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Unlocking the Power of Google Tabs to Determine Keyword Intent

Have you ever noticed how the ordering of the tabs at the top of the search results changes based on the query?

You can use the ordering to understand what Google thinks the intent of the query is. For instance, if “Shopping” is first, this tells you the query has purchase intent in Google’s eyes. Consider creating content to rank for this query that is targeted toward the bottom of the funnel.  Are you seeing “Video” or “Images” first? This tells us that Google thinks the user is in research mode and will likely want to see some images or watch a video when searching that query. Make sure the page has quality images and a video.

To see how drastically the ordering of the tabs changes, check out these examples below.

The query “easy divorce in Arizona,” shows “News” first.


The query “How to file for divorce in Arizona,” shows “Images” first.


The query “garage door repair near me” shows “Maps” first.

The query “how to repair a broken garage door spring” shows “Video” first.

So What?

Paying attention to the ordering of the tabs Google shows at the top of the SERP can help you understand what Google thinks the intent of a query is. This is especially useful as more and more search results seem to be steering users toward images and videos. I would bake this tactic into your keyword research, onsite optimization, and content creation workflows.

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Colan Nielsen

Colan started in the local SEO world back in 2010 and is also deemed a product expert by Google as a Top Contributor on the Google My Business Forum. He is a contributor to Moz’s famous Local Search Ranking Factors survey and is a former Google MapMaker Regional Lead. Read Colan's full bio here.

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