Do you know, I nearly gave this the headline ‘How to target women online’, but I thought I might be misleading the reader…

Women outnumber men online, according to eMarketer research, and the proportion is growing. The number of female internet users has been gradually overtaking the number of men online since 2008.

This changing online demographic means new challenges for marketers.

Now, it’s not the intention of this post to be a sort of
1950s: ‘Gosh, look! Women buy things too!’

However, I think it’s safe to say that the majority of
people working in search engine optimisation (SEO) are men, although there are
many notable women.

So I think there’s a danger that, as SEO becomes less about
technicalities and more about the challenges of online marketing, some of these
men may fail to recognise that what works for them will not necessarily work
for a female audience.

A quick disclaimer before I begin: There are generalisations
in this post because it’s general. Not all these comments apply to every
sector, every man, every woman or every SEO exec. So, how do you target women
with online marketing?

Be clear on your target audience

Who’s your female target audience online? Is it mums,
16-24s, racing car fans? Obviously women will belong to more than demographic
and you need to bear that in mind, but it will help your budget work as hard as
possible if you’re very clear who you’re targeting.

Of course, if you’re marketing something like Mumsnet or
Heat magazine, then your audience is relatively straightforward.

However, if you’re promoting hair care products or cars or
myriad other products, the demographic will be less easy to identify and you
will need guidance from the sales office.

Women use the web differently

It’s not just that women are using different content online;
they tend to prefer different kinds of content to men. For example, women tend
to place a much greater value on socialising online than men.

Creating an online community encourages women to bookmark
your pages and revisit regularly. Building habit builds loyalty and that will
help you capture the female market share.

Women research

According to the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IABUK),
women are increasingly turning to the web to research important household
purchases.

That means they are reading reviews – so it’s important to
encourage your satisfied customers to leave them. It’s also a good idea to
provide space for reviews on your own website so that potential customers don’t
have to leave your pages to see what other customers think.

But popular content remains popular whatever your
gender

Whatever differences there may be in how men and women
interact, browse and shop online, the most popular websites among women are identical
to the most popular sites with men.

Just like their male counterparts, Google, MSN, Facebook,
Yahoo! and the BBC remain hugely popular.

So, while your tactics may change depending on the audience
you’re trying to attract, you don’t necessarily need to ditch the platforms
you’re using.

Organic search really matters

Research shows that 95% of women consider organic search
results to be more relevant than paid links and will click through as many as
three pages of results. That makes your organic SEO vital.

Having said that, the same study by the IABUK shows women
are more likely to use a search engine to find the website of a company they
already know than to try and guess the address.

That gives you a chance to bid on competitors’ names and
whisk a good 5% of customers away from other retailers.

Women shop for the family

Even if you’re selling a product specifically geared towards
a male or child audience, keep in mind that mothers tend to shop for the whole
family.

So, whatever your audience, making your websites accessible
and appealing to women will amply repay the investment.