Assessing User Intent for SEO at Scale with Suganthan Mohanadasan and Andy Chadwick

Feature title image for blog of suganthan mohanadasan and andy chadwick who discuss seo at scale on the agency ahead podcast

Whatever you do, don’t call Snippet Digital an agency.

Suganthan and Andy will be the first to tell you they are SEO Consultants, not an SEO agency – and that many SEO agencies are among their client base.

Right now, though, it’s not their consultancy that’s getting all the buzz and attention. It’s their new SaaS product: Keyword Insights.

keywords insights

While Keyword Insights is still in beta and actively courting testers, this product can supercharge your SEO strategy by helping you research over 100,000 keywords at a time. You can then group them by intent and rank them, allowing you to create a more efficient, modern approach to SEO and content creation.

Want to learn more about this awesome tool and all the problems it solves? Tune in! 

The highlights:

  • [1:32] Why Suganthan and Andy are so adamant that Snippet Digital is no agency.
  • [5:15] How their private tool, Keyword Decipher, aids categorization of search intent.
  • [10:26] Solving the problems of keyword intent and context at scale.
  • [16:16] Using Keyword Insights to generate a content strategy.
  • [19:06] Beta test feedback.
  • [25:41] Keyword Insights: the main value prop.
  • [27:52] Andy’s cause.
  • [30:01] Suganthan’s cause. 

The insights: 

Snippet Digital: We're No Agency

Why are Andy and Suganthan so adamant that Snippet Digital is not an agency, and never will be?

Andy says that in part it’s because they do a lot of work with agencies. 

“We’ll work with you just as much as we’ll work with our own clients.”

Andy also ran a 17 to 20 employee business in the past, and didn’t like being responsible for so many people. Now Snippet Digital uses freelancers, but Suganthan and Andy remain hands-on.

Suganthan adds: 

“We like to stay small. I personally feel we can add a lot more value to customers. When customers come to us personally, we work on the project. It’s not like we onboard a client and have ten other people deal with the client. We deal with the client. We actually look at the nitty-gritty of that client’s SEO.”

They get in there and do most of the work themselves. This has resulted in them having to spend zero dollars on marketing, as they’ve been bringing in clients through word-of-mouth and referrals only.

Cracking the Code to Categorizing Queries for Search Intent with Keyword Decipher

Andy explains how he had begun to approach the problem of taking a large number of search queries and using machine learning to filter them into different buckets. Suganthan was excited to work with Andy to build on some of those initial strategies.

“I came from a global agency. We were doing keyword research on 50K to 60K keywords at a time. Keyword categorization would be done manually by someone with some clever Excel logic. It still took weeks, 50-60 hours maybe.”

While he was still at this agency, Andy programmed a PHP tool to do the job a lot quicker, cutting the time down to about 20-30 hours. 

“When Suganthan and I got together I showed him what I was doing he got excited and we started bringing machine learning into it, which was the next stage.”

Andy admits currently the tool still is not as automated as he might like, but 60 hours of work have now been cut down to 7 or 8 hours.  

This collaboration resulted in Suganthan and Andy creating a tool that hasn’t been released to the public yet called Keyword Decipher (and might not necessarily go public). 

“We categorize and load all that data in. It’s built on Panda’s framework. It’s a really nice UI. It’s not Google Sheets. It allows us to do keyword research that’s massive and works a lot better than Google Sheets, and you can pivot the data any way you want.”

Suganthan notes that they also practice over time.

“For our Keyword Decipher platform clients can choose their keywords, and can go back 6 months. 6 months ago, this intent was fragmented, but now after 6 months, Google has changed the Top 10 results. 

It’s widely considered that they use behavior analysis to figure out how people use the search results. It seems like after 6 months Google has decided to show the product page over the blog post. They find more users engaging with that better. 

That’s an actionable insight for the client.”  

Leveling Up Keyword Intent Categorization and Actionable SEO Strategy at Scale with Keyword Insights

Suganthan explained how they could take the power of Keyword Decipher and add a complementary layer of actionable context with Keyword Insights.

“We realized when we looked online at the way everyone is trying to solve the intent problem, everyone is pretty much using the same sort of formula. A basic formula to say: hey, if the keyword asks why or how it’s informational. This is a very rudimentary way at looking at intent.”

Suganthan says they realized quickly that what they thought the term implied would often generate unexpected results when one actually plugged those terms into Google.

“Often Google’s understanding of a keyword is very different from what we think it is. Most people are doing guesswork. We went and said: we’re going to just look at what Google is thinking, and we’re going to literally copy that idea, what Google is saying.”

Andy explains how intent can go wrong with the basic method.

“There are actually two ways people classify intent. The first is what Suganthan said, looking at the root word and if it had certain modifiers. If it said buy iPhone, they put it as transactional. If it was what is iPhone they put it as informational. The tricky part came if the keyword was just iPhone. Most people put it as transactional thinking there’s not a modifier.”

They get a mix of transactional and informational results on page one:

informational and transactional SERP
SERP example 2

Given the huge variety of results and result types, it becomes hard, for certain keywords, to figure out what type of page you might be able to create that might actually help your client.

“We basically wanted to know just three things. Do I need a blog post, do I need an informational page, or do I need a transactional page? Or is it some other type?”

Keyword Insights is designed to deliver this simplicity, to help people decide what kind of page to create for their clients.

Andy also adds this is a way to confidently ensure that opportunities don’t end up getting wasted.

“You can pull through a page by rank and by URL rather than by keyword. You start to see what should be broken out into multiple topics. If there are two massive clusters a page is ranking for this content needs to be broken out in two.”

Suganthan agrees. 

“I’ve got a good use case. Cluster Volume. Instead of just going for search volume, here’s the keyword, x keyword, here’s the cluster volume. For this page, there’s this much potential of cluster volume you can rank for, but you can rank for all those terms on the same page.

Instead of looking at the same volume, we can have the cluster volume that gives users, even clients, a bit more than they have on a single keyword.”

Using Keyword Insights to Generate a Content Strategy

Andy uses Keyword Insights to generate content strategies.

“I use it two ways. Sometimes when I’m struggling for content ideas, I’ve got 50K keywords, rather than going and looking at other people’s content, I filter by the clusters with the most volume.”

He doesn’t focus on the keyword with the most volume. He focuses on the cluster with the most volume.

“Clusters are all the keywords you can realistically target on one page. Sometimes you’ll see a cluster with three keywords with a volume of 2,000. You’re thinking: I’m going to go for them. Then you see a cluster of 2000 keywords, each with a volume of 100. That one is a lot easier to go for. You get a lot more.”

He says when he clusters he gets left with all the pages that can be content, and often with many ideas he would not have thought about on his own.

Beta Test Feedback

Andy and Suganthan are getting a ton of feedback about their tool. They’re still nailing down the finer points of user intent by the industry or site type that’s attempting to use the tool. Suganthan says:
“We’ll hopefully soon be able to say it’s an eCommerce site or a lead gen site and be able to train different models for different industries like automotive. We can already do insurance. We have a specific set of scraped data which we can train and label for our machine learning model. Then it would offer a better prediction on those keywords.”
Andy adds: 
“For transactional pages, we want to be able to tell you the category level or product level pages that rank.”

What's your right now cause?

Andy’s right now cause Be the Match.

amnesty international statement on belarus
His aunt has leukemia and had a 13% chance to live, but is now in remission.
“Some random bone donor in Germany is giving his bone marrow. Never met the kid. He’s doing this during Covid as well.”
Be the Match takes a little bit of your DNA via a cheek swab and uses it to match bone marrow and stem cell donors to patients.
“He was an 100% match. My aunt’s from Scotland, he’s from Germany, but somewhere down the line they share genes.”
He says it’s a great thing to do.
“Not asking for money. Sign up if you’re happy to give bone marrow. It could save someone’s life.”
Suganthan says he doesn’t really have a cause other than trying to help SEO newcomers.
“You’ve probably often seen newcomers ask a question, and they get shut down really quickly by people saying, look, this is a basic question, you shouldn’t be asking. I think every question is a valid question. One thing I do a lot, actually, is help newcomers. I’ve spent hours and hours. I’m more than happy to get a call with anyone on any part of the world. Just contact me, say you want to talk for an hour. I’m more than happy to take some time.”
Andy says he’s evidence of that.
“When I met Suganthan, no joke, it was a year and a half ago. I had 50 followers a year and a half ago. I met Suganthan, and everything that’s happened to me has been through his help.”

Connect with Suganthan Mohanadasan and Andy Chadwick

Want to learn more about Andy and Suganthan and connect with them online? 

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Garrett Sussman

Garrett Sussman

Garrett is the head of content at Traject , a suite of digital marketing tools, and host of the Agency Ahead podcast. When he's not crafting content, he's scouting the perfect ice coffee, devouring the newest graphic novels, and concocting a new recipe in the kitchen.

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