Why is Search Intent Modeling Crucial for Boosting SEO? | Varn


13 March 2024

What is Search Keyword Intent Modelling and Why is it Important?

We all know by now the importance of identifying the best, most relevant keywords used by people when searching online for what your business offers. Many sites do a very thin analysis of keywords but when keyword research and the corresponding landing pages can make or break a sale, it shows the value of diving a little deeper.

This is where search intent comes in, and it’s one of the most important aspects of keyword research and is indeed a foundational part of SEO. Here we cover search intent, its different forms, and what we at Varn call ‘search intent modelling’ plus how this will all be impacted by AI and SGE.

What is search intent?

Search intent encapsulates the real motivation behind a user’s search query on search engines. It’s a critical concept in SEO, as understanding and catering to the specific reason a user has for searching ensures content is relevant, satisfies user needs, and enhances the likelihood of achieving higher rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).

This video from Ahrefs summarises the importance of search intent: 

What are the different types of search intent? 

Different users will have many different intentions when searching the web and sometimes the intent can change fairly rapidly, but they can broadly be categorised in the following sections: 

Informational Intent: Users are looking for information or answers to questions. They might be searching for the weather forecast, tips on baking a cake, or details about a historical event.

Transactional Intent: This intent signifies a readiness to buy or perform another specific online transaction. Users might be looking for a specific product to purchase or a service booking site.

Navigational Intent: When users have a particular website in mind and use a search engine to find it, they’re exhibiting navigational intent. For example, typing “Facebook login” into a search engine.

Commercial Investigation: Users with this intent are in the decision-making process, comparing products, services, or providers before making a purchase. They’re looking for the best option available.

What is search intent modelling?

Search intent modelling is a unique service to provide more accuracy in linking keywords in search to your most relevant content.

Respond to user intentions

Understanding the user’s intent behind keywords used in search will empower your business to deliver the sought-after content on the right landing pages of your website. With similarities to consumer behaviour modelling, the concept is in developing a full understanding of human and technical processes involved in searching for content.

An in-depth analysis of how and why those keywords are used, should influence the design, content and structure of your website’s web pages – and how to offer and present your products or services and supporting information in the most intuitive, relevant way at the correct point in the buying process.

It’s important to make sure the user does not have to work hard to locate the information they need or the right part of a page that is relevant to their needs – as if they do, what should be the stages of a sales funnel, can falter and fail. The extra research and understanding about how searches are conducted will be useful for creating an effective presentation of the offers, so they exactly match the user’s expectations – their ‘search intent’.

Design websites around search research

Search intent modelling makes use of research on user personas, keyword research, data analysis, usability testing, paid search keyword testing, traffic and research trends.

The combination of all these lines of research culminates in a more complete understanding of why a search was conducted. This information then can be used in the design of your pages and your information architecture, as well as the way you categorise items for sale or services you are promoting. It’s also helpful for pinpointing the right kind of terminology to use and for defining your SEO marketing campaign strategy.

Every page on your website should be considered a landing page and every page needs to be ordered in a way to answer key questions for a user navigating the site for the first time. In turn, this kind of approach will ensure your website is in tune with your clients or customers when they search, which will lead to better search rankings and improved website performance.

Search intent and SGE (Search Generative Experience)

With SGE now in beta, many have started to test it out and what the SERPs may look like in the near future, from Varn’s analysis 55% of SGE results overlap with what is shown in the standard organic SERPs, which raises the question of repetition and whether text results are best for the search intent of the user. 

If you want to find out more about how Google SGE works, check out our blog. 

If for example, you are looking for a how-to video to draw the perfect circle, you will get video results similar to the below:

To rank for this snippet, you would need your search intent modelling to match what the user is likely to want, in this case, a video. 

If we test this same term with the beta test of SGE, we get a much text-heavier result:

Whilst still useful, it feels like a step backwards when it comes to content display and it may well be the case that users prefer videos in the long run which may impact the results. 

For more informational based searches where written text is optimal, we are likely to see more AI search results pulling through from content from the web, so ensuring your content is optimised for SGE and users will help you get this coverage so that if a searcher is not satisfied with the AI answer, they will be more likely to seek out your content. 

Search intent across informational, navigational and commercial based queries will also likely vary across SGE results; with informational likely garnering more AI results whilst navigational and commercial search intent queries will likely remain consistent with the current search results. 

Get in touch to discuss search intent modelling

If you would like to know more about how search intent modelling can work for your business, then get in touch with our Bristol-based SEO team today.

Article by: David, SEO Account Manager More articles by David

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