One of the more interesting upcoming changes to Google’s search engine is the promise of more diversity in results through the use of sub-topics.
Google has been building a knowledge graph, connecting together related terms and items to improve their understanding of how different topics relate for some time now. One of the easiest ways to see this in action is to search for the name of a film – thanks to the knowledge graph, Google will not only show you results for the film but also its cast, local showing times, etc. You can actually dig into Google’s Knowledge Graph through the Knowledge Graph API.
Google are now expanding their use of connected information to improve search engine results by using sub-topics. For quite a while, Google has talked about trying to understand “search intent” – their attempts to predict why someone is searching for whatever they are searching for.
For example, if you search for “kitchen equipment” there might be range of reasons why you are doing this. There are also a range of different types of kitchen equipment depending on whether you are looking for equipment for a home kitchen, a commercial kitchen, an outdoor kitchen etc.
At the moment, Google shows you the sites that rank highest for the broad term of “kitchen equipment”. Moving forward, Google will instead show a smaller number of high ranking sites for that search terms and then top sites for the most likely sub-topics.
Will sub-topics increase or decrease my organic traffic?
If you are running a niche website and you are not currently appearing on the first page of Google for broader search terms then you may find that your organic reach and traffic improve because you could be picked to be a first page result for your sub-topic.
However, if you are currently ranking well for a broad term then you may find that you are squeezed off the front page in favour of a niche competitor.
What should you do to be ready for Google’s sub-topics?
It is inevitably going to get harder to rank for a broad search term, so the safest course of action is to choose a niche and double-down on your efforts to dominate in that space. If you can fortify your position on a more narrow search term, you are more likely to be selected as a top-ranking site if your niche is selected as a sub-topic for a broad search.
For more information on Google’s upcoming changes, check out Search Engine Journal’s coverage of the whole set of changes – https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-ai-updates-to-search-results-impact-analysis/384176/