Google launched subtopics last year without announcement
Last weekend, Google’s Danny Sullivan confirmed a ranking change had taken place in Google mid-November that was never officially announced.
The change in question is the subtopics ranking feature. Back in October, Google touched upon subtopics during its Search On event and indicated its plans to roll out the feature, although it did not provide a specific date. The search giant said:
“We’ve applied neural nets to understand subtopics around an interest, which helps deliver a greater diversity of content when you search for something broad.”
Google gave the example of someone making a search for “home exercise equipment”. With the new feature, the search engine is now able to understand several relevant subtopics, like “budget equipment” or “small space ideas”, and provide the searcher with a wider variety of content.
Sullivan also confirmed on Twitter that subtopics have no impact on the appearance of search results – they only “broaden the diversity of content”.
This is a feature to help users find related Interesting Finds. It's not using the subtopics system. That is live now, but subtopics don't change the look of search results, only broaden the diversity of content, when useful.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) January 8, 2021
From a user perspective, this change is one of many Google has been implementing over the past few months to enhance user experience, with subtopics helping out users by providing them with a wider range of relevant content.
From a search engine optimisation (SEO) perspective, however, seeing as subtopics doesn’t change the look of Search and Google didn’t see fit to officially announce its rollout at the time of its launch, it isn’t a major change in the grand scheme of things. However, this change could explain any changes to rankings seen around the middle of November, and when making use of SEO, it’s advisable to keep up to date on all the latest changes to Google in order to implement an effective strategy.
Here at Engage Web, we keep a sharp eye on all changes to Google Search that could have an impact on our clients’ rankings. If you’re interested in investing in an SEO strategy and boosting your online presence, give our team a call today.