- What is search intent
- How to use search intent to guide your website design
- Competitive advantages of search-driven website architecture
- Tactics to streamline your site architecture
Building big-time websites requires big-time planning. You always want to be thinking about how a great website architecture can boost your visibility online.
Website architecture refers to how information is organised and structured on your site, from navigation to sitemaps, URLs, internal linking structure, etc.
While web designers are usually responsible for the design element, various individuals such as stakeholders, search engine optimisation (SEO) specialists, and content writers can be heavily involved in the planning process, which is when things can start to get messy.
Avoid chaos by practising good communication and effectively managing stakeholder expectations, which will help you ensure the respective parties understand the reasons behind any decisions or recommendations proposed.
Remember, SEO is just as important to the website architecture as the user experience (UX), so don’t compromise one for the other.
Before we delve into the importance of search intent-driven website architecture, let’s briefly explore search intent.
Types of search: What is search intent?
Search intent is a term used to describe the purpose of queries users submit to search engines. It essentially represents the primary goal in the user’s online journey.
According to past research, 75% of search queries can be arranged into a single category of search intent, with the remaining 25% of queries said to be multifaceted or vague.
There are four main types of search intent, these being:
- Informational Intent – These are search queries made by people that want to find information. Approximately 80% of all search queries have informational intent. Search engines like Google not only return results but show what it perceives to be the most reliable information in an Answer Box to provide value to users.
- Navigational Intent – These searches refer to when a person is looking for a specific location or website. For example, a search for Birmingham would be navigational because they are looking for a particular destination.
- Transactional Intent – Demonstrates a desire to purchase a product or service and will usually contain words such as “buy”, “purchase”, and “cheap”.
- Commercial Intent – While similar to transactional intent, the user is more brand-aware and will use the company name in the search to make a purchase or learn more information about a product or service the particular brand sells.
Localised intent is another prominent type of search intent, especially where SEO is concerned.
Search engines assume a user has local intent when performing a geographical search, e.g. “fast-food restaurants in Birmingham” or “Birmingham SEO Company“. It might also reflect an intention to find ways to contact a business, see whether a brand has a brick-and-mortar shop or source directions to a physical store.
There’s a clear relationship between search intent and conversion. So understanding user intent and how to target it can boost your website’s online presence, resulting in more desirable results for your business.
Plan Your Website Structure Using Search Intent
When building a website that aligns with user goals and personas, web owners should follow a continuous improvement approach to keep up with evolving search intent.
Here are five steps you could take to develop an intent-driven continuous improvement process for your site:
Define Website Architecture KPIs
Before you get started, it’s crucial to understand how you want to benchmark your website.
One pattern you will notice across all websites, irrespective of their size or authority, is that the primary characteristic of their high-performing pages is search intent match.
What do we mean by search intent match?
The characteristics of search intent match can be evidenced by an increase in organic sessions, clicks and dwelling time, which will lead to various benefits such as:
- Higher keyword ranking positions
- More qualified traffic
- Increased visibility in SERPs
Search engines reward websites that provide valuable, relevant content to users by promoting their website in SERPs.
Understanding the intent behind user searches can help you create content that they want to read. For example, content with short-tail, high-volume keywords are best suited for informational queries as they don’t engage users for long periods.
On the other hand, transactional pages, where you want to hold users for a long time, should include long-tail keywords and some of those shorter phrases to reduce bounce rate and increase the average time spent on a page, which could lead to higher conversion rates.
It’s important to recognise the difference between KPIs based on different intent match categories to help you achieve the right goals on your web pages.
How to Build Website User or Buyer Personas
A marketing persona refers to characteristics that act as stand-ins for real people to help marketers make informed decisions about the functionality and design of a website to ensure it meets the target audience’s needs.
When creating user personas, you should consider demographics, how your target audience behaves in SERPs, the terminology they may use and what motivates them.
You mustn’t neglect search characteristics and intent – recognise patterns and use segmentation to identify your audience based on shared commonalities, which will help you understand the emotional and behavioural triggers.
Creating personas from the perspective of search intent and aligning these personas with KPIs will help you streamline the SEO efforts needed to reach your overall business goals.
Once you understand the intent behind each of these personas, you’ll be able to recognise the value your website can provide that sets you apart from competitors.
Competitive Advantages of Intent-Driven SEO and SERP Analysis
Intent-driven SEO and SERP analysis are essential in building a valuable website architecture.
Your online competition can significantly vary from your brick-and-mortar competitors, so knowing your search competitors’ strengths and weaknesses will help you identify a gap in the market to serve your target audience better.
Online competition increased post-pandemic, and the global trend towards digitisation continues to surge ahead at lightning speed. Failure to research what your target audience is searching for and what brands are showing up on results pages could be the difference between success and failure amid increasing competition.
As search engines such as Google are constantly updating their algorithms to serve the most relevant results to users, the best place to start your research is SERPs.
Even when the intent is uncertain, Google presents various information in the form of rich results and cards that vary in interpretation to cover all bases.
When conducting a SERP analysis, start by defining the primary phrases in your niche and persona for the main intent categories – transactional, commercial, navigational and informational.
Pay particular attention to keywords used in the metadata, e.g. “guide”, “how-to”, and “popular”, as they can signal the type of resources users are looking for and their level of knowledge on a topic.
Align your research with the user personas and KPIs you’ve outlined and build your web pages accordingly, considering what information is best suited to what page within your website architecture.
As a general rule of thumb, there are three primary types of pages:
These pages focus on targeting informational intent to increase traffic but can be optimised to support other initiatives and, as a result, can serve multiple intents.
Resource pages tend to come in the form of blogs, guides and other content-rich sources of information.
These web pages serve transactional and commercial intent and are highly competitive as it’s where conversion tends to take place. These could be your subscription or solution pages if you’re a service provider.
Company pages can be informational and navigational as they usually offer information about the business, such as “Contact Us” and “About Us” pages.
While they have a place in the website architecture, they have little impact in attracting new audiences via SERPs.
Once you’ve built your website pages, optimise them per results page performance and bridge gaps between what users want and the pages you want to serve them.
How to Streamline Site Architecture to Improve Search-Intent Discoverability
Call-to-action elements can come in text, images, or button format and should be utilised across your site to clarify what action potential customers can take next.
These buttons directly impact your conversion rates and reduce friction in moving users down the sales funnel. If your website allows, experiment with different types of CTA based on the relative user personas you’ve created.
Anchor links take users further up or down to another section of the web page.
One of the primary benefits of anchor links is an increase in the average time spent on a page, as it provides users with an easy way to navigate between different sections of the web page.
All this sends a positive signal to crawl bots and could lead to a higher ranking in SERPs for relevant key phrases.
Mega Menu: What are they?
While mega menus can be tricky to implement on mobile, they are a great asset to the website as all of your pages can be accessed from within the navigation menu.
The primary focus of a mega menu is to enhance bottom-funnel content such as product pages, and it does so by reducing your crawl budget and allowing users to access what they want quickly.
When building a mega menu, organise pages based on your personas and create silos to support your SEO efforts.
A well-designed footer is a valuable asset for improving UX by giving users the ability to find the information they are seeking quickly.
Suppose you want to include a web page in your navigation menu or homepage, but it doesn’t cohesively fit with the design; you can link it in the footer.
However, we advise against making your footer too cramped as this is bad UX.
Internal linking helps Google better understand and rank your website better while enhancing the intent by providing users with additional resources to visit on the topic they are exploring.
It helps spread “link juice” to other pages within your site, thus improving your overall search visibility and ranking performance.
So, we’ve covered a few methods on how to streamline your site architecture to boost discoverability – here are the things you should avoid:
- Assuming all users land on your home page
- Giving equal importance to all your web pages
- Using carousels as they pose issues accessibility issues
- Cramming your website with above-the-fold content
- Making the footer too crowded
- Neglecting site updates
It’s essential to stay on top of your site updates and embrace continuous improvement of your website architecture to keep pace with evolving intent and modify your website accordingly.