In-depth articles are a recent Google creation that favor deeper, longer, more information and value-driven articles when people use the Google search engine. Chances are good that you have seen some of these in-depth articles pop up when conducting general searches of your own. They appear at the top of the search list and are given more room for descriptions and graphics, with a clear notice on where the article originated.
This is an attempt by Google to enable users who are looking for high-quality, informative posts that they can rely on. It can save the right users a lot of time, but it is also growing into a new way to achieve better search rankings. Here is the key information you need to know about in-depth articles and how they can benefit your SEO tactics.
The in-depth article box does not always appear. Typically, it is associated with very broad topic searches where people are looking for general information. One-word or extra-simple topics are more likely to end up with in-depth article options. Search for something like “optimization” or “SEO” and a few are likely to pop up. Search for “dolphins off the coast of Hawaii” and it is unlikely any articles will appear. Of course, Google will continue to evolve the in-depth box and it is likely that more specific content will eventually appear there, but for now the focus is on very high-level topics. Article lengths tend to range between 2,000 and 5,000 words or so.
There’s a definite brand bias in in-depth articles, and from Google’s point of view this makes a lot of sense for the first rollout of this new feature. The focus is placed on quality and dependability of information, so a lot of weight is placed on major brands. Almost every search result you see here will come from a major publisher like The Washington Post, The New York Times, TechCrunch and other familiar names. Does this mean you should give up on ever winning a spot in the in-depth box? No! Google wants to make the in-depth section available to as many small-time publishers as possible, and further adaptations of the feature will probably be friendlier to smaller companies and blogs.
Taking Advantage of the Trend:
The key to getting an article placed in this premium in-depth spot is to match what Google is looking for. First, make sure you cover the basics. Write articles that offer a close look at specific trends or a lot of high-quality information on a certain topic. Match the word count requirements, and remember that Google wants these articles to quickly educate and inform users that are looking for value, not necessarily entertainment or the latest news. In addition to aiming for the best research and information, there are a few other tricks you can use to encourage your chances.
The Schema.org markup language is currently favored by major search engines. If you are not using it to add in key search engine information for your articles, make sure Schema is a regular part of your work. This helps Google identify your post as an official article in the proper format for the in-depth section.
What does the right Scheme format look like? Make sure you have a headline, an alternative headline, the date you published the article, the article body, and an associated high-quality image, all clearly identified with the Schema markup. This will make Google happy.
Google is also placing increasing emphasis on authorship and author rank. Author rank increases the more you connect publications to your Google+ profile, and the more you clearly identify yourself as the author in Schema and other necessary markup. Connect all your high-quality articles to build your ranking…or work to recruit those with high authorship rankings.
Jason Bayless is a professional blogger who gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice. He writes for BestSEOCompanies.com, a nationally recognized comparison website of the best SEO services in the United States.