Whenever Google introduces a new feature to search results, smart businesses will sit up and take note of the new opportunities they might take advantage of. In August, Google announced a new inclusion to their already diverse results page: In-Depth Articles.
What is the In-Depth Articles feature?
According to Google, in-depth articles are an answer for when Googlers are looking for “a person or organizational name, or other broad topic”. The goal is to show high-quality, detailed content to help searchers learn about a subject.
How the In-Depth Articles result look?
In-Depth articles appear in their own box in search results, usually for very broad, generic queries. For example, some of the keyword phrases that result in in-depth articles include: “economics”, “farming”, “search engine optimization”, “physics” and “celebrities” – all very broad keywords where user intent is harder to pin down.
How do I get my business in there?
There seems to be heavy favoritism for major brands (articles from The New York Times account for nearly a fifth of all results tested in an excellent Moz study) but this may be because those brands have serious online authority, link profiles, and quality signals that indicate their content is worth reading and trustworthy.
Still, the In-Depth Results area is not exclusive. Pandu Nayakw, a member of Google’s technical staff, claims that searchers will also see “lesser-known authors, blogs, and publications” in these results, even if this remains to be seen.
Thankfully, Google has shared guidelines for getting published in the in-depth articles section to help smaller businesses out:
1. Use Schema.org Markup
Search engines aren’t like people – they can’t inherently tell if a string of numbers is an address, or if Happy Gilmore is the title of a movie. To help search engines understand your content, you can add schema.org markup language to tell a search engine more information about the things you’re mentioning, whether people, places, things, recipes, or reviews. That language is called Schema, and it’s used by Bing, Google, and Yahoo! as well.
If you want to land in the in-depth articles section, make sure you use the following schema:
2. Implement Google+ Authorship
If you’ve ever seen a search result with the author’s photo next to it, you’ve come into contact with authorship.
Implementing authorship is easier than ever – but you’ll need a Google+ profile. Authorship is a good idea even if you don’t hope to show up in in-depth articles, as studies show that results with authorship see a greater amount of attention from searchers.
3. Use Proper Pagination & Canonicalization
Long, in-depth content often spans several pages of a website; but Google can’t always tell which pages are related. Using the proper “rel=next” and “rel=prev” can assist search engines in understanding that all those separate pages are actually just one piece of content.
You’ll also need to use “rel=canonical” to point the pages of your piece to either a “View All” page, or to each individual page of the piece. Don’t point “rel=canonical” to the first page of your article.
4. Specify Your Preferred Logo
Google asks publishers to share their preferred logo as part of helping them decide to feature your content. Once again, you’ll need a Google+ profile that has been linked back to your website. You’ll then need to implement organization markup on the logo image on your website.
5. Content must be Crawlable: No Restricted Content
First Click Free, which will make sure Google can crawl your content and serve up your results.
But Doing That Isn’t Enough!
Just marking up your content correctly won’t be sufficient to get you listed. Google has said their choice in display is algorithmic, meaning factors like domain authority, trust, content quality, links, and many other ranking factors we already take into account for websites will apply.
Length may also be a factor, given that in-depth pieces tend to correlate with longer content. The speculation out of Hubspot is 2,000 – 5,000 words, but be careful not to get hung up on a word count instead of focusing on quality.
Are In-Depth Articles Really Worth Your Attention?
Of course, the question should be asked: Is devoting time and energy to trying to rank in the In-Depth Articles worth it for businesses?
Given that these kinds of results are triggered on very broad queries where user intent may have nothing to do with a purchase, the value in showing up here is questionable.
Lots of traffic doesn’t mean lots of conversions – and though the visibility may be good for your brand, the real benefit from content creation and marketing is meeting targeted customers when they’re at a stage in your buying cycle where the content helps move them along.
My advice? Go ahead and mark up your pieces the right way, and invest the time in getting schema and authorship right. These things are valuable for your business no matter what the goals of your content may be.
But instead of bending over backward to show up here, keep your focus on creating and promoting excellent, customer-focused content. Doing this will have the greatest impact on your bottom line.