Google Search adds subtopics to filter results, Activity cards, and stories




To mark its 20th anniversary, Google today announced a number of changes to advance its marquee product. Focusing on AI and more visual content, Google Search is adding Activity cards to surface past searches, while subtopics allow for dynamic organization of results. Today’s new features are powered by a Topic Layer for the Knowledge Graph.

Just last week, we spotted AMP stories in the Google Feed on Android. Google is planning to surface more from publications in Discover and Google Images, while also creating their own. AI will be leveraged to generate stories about notable celebrities and athletes that dive into lives and careers.

Meanwhile, more video results will appear thanks to computer vision that can understand the content of a video and surfacing useful “featured videos.” For example, when searching about a national park, Google Search might surface a playlist of major attractions.

Search results will be better grouped with dynamic organization and “subtopics” that are unique to each term. Appearing as a carousel of tabs, a search for “Pugs” will surface subtopics like breed characteristics and names, while a query for “Yorkshire Terriers” might suggest grooming tips for the high maintenance dog.

Rather than presenting information within a set of predetermined categories, we can intelligently show the subtopics that are most relevant to what you’re searching for and make it easy to explore information from the web, all with a single search.

Dynamic page organization is already live for a number of topics, with more coming in the future. Google notes that as new information comes in, subtopics will be updated to reflect what’s relevant.

Google is improving the search experience by surfacing your past queries with Activity cards that appear right on the results page. These cards appear “intelligently” when deemed useful by Google, and will not be visible for every search.

When you revisit a query related to a task you’ve started in the past, we’ll show you a card with relevant pages you’ve already visited and previous queries you’ve done on this topic. This helps you retrace your steps when you might not remember which sites had that useful information you’d found earlier.

Launching later this year, Activity cards integrate with Collections. Previously called Saved, content from an activity card can be added directly to a grouping of websites, articles, and images.

Powering today’s Google Search updates is a new Topic Layer for the Knowledge Graph. It works by understanding a topic and how a user’s interests can advance over time with familiarity and expertise.

The Topic Layer is built by analyzing all the content that exists on the web for a given topic and develops hundreds and thousands of subtopics. For these subtopics, we can identify the most relevant articles and videos—the ones that have shown themselves to be evergreen and continually useful, as well as fresh content on the topic. We then look at patterns to understand how these subtopics relate to each other, so we can more intelligently surface the type of content you might want to explore next.


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