On the final day of 2013, Google was granted a patent that immediately created a buzz in the SEO world. The patent in question was titled, “Search Query Results Based Upon Topic” – which is enough to give you a good idea as to what it was about.
The idea of providing search results based on a more general topic rather than more specific keywords is not new, but often misunderstood.
For example, a search with the keyword ‘wrecking ball’ could be considered to be part of a topic dealing with demolition and construction. At the same time, it is a new song by Miley Cyrus from her album Bangerz and so could be part of a topic dealing with the artist or album too. Where a conventional search engine would online return results that had the keyword ‘wrecking ball’, a topic-based search engine would return results that were part of the topic and may include words such as ‘demolition’, ‘Miley Cyrus’ or ‘Bangerz’.
How Soon Will Topics Be Rolled Out?
Although many SEO experts have already started to notice that Google’s results often don’t match all the keywords in a query ever since the Hummingbird update – it doesn’t look like it is using topics as yet.
The technical scale of being able to link keywords to topics is massive and would require a constantly-updated database. Of course, it is well within Google’s means to accomplish this, but it is safe to say that it will take time for them to do so.
What many suspect is that topics may even be rolled out gradually over the course of 2014. Perhaps Google will even decide to use a combination of topics and keywords to slowly phase it in.
On the other hand, it may also be that a topic-based search is simply one of the many ideas that Google is toying with and they won’t act on it in the near future at all. Suffice to say, until Google actually announces a change or more topic-based results that exclude keywords completely start appearing – it could happen at any time, or not at all!
The brunt of the impact that topic-based searches may have is that they could possibly eliminate keyword-targeting entirely. Again, the details will only be known when Google makes them available or makes the shift.