How, When & Why to use

In 2013 Google introduced in-depth articles as a type of search result that is often included in queries that indicate the user is looking for either a broad overview of a topic. Therefore these results tend to show up most often for very general queries. When these results do show up, they typically appear in a block of three articles within the organic search results. While this can give publishers an opportunity to gain exposure for longer and more in-depth content, this particular type of search result seems to be (at least at this time) very difficult to achieve. However, creating content that could be seen by Google to qualify as “in-depth” could add significant credibility to your site. In numerous studies conducted on this type of content so far, some very strong correlations have been drawn and can be used as guidelines to having success with in-depth articles. Also, the majority of in-depth articles tend to be between 1-4 years old. This shows that in-depth articles may be exempt from Google’s freshness update, instead opting for content that stands the test of time. Therefore, this is not a strategy that one should use expecting immediate results, but rather as a way to continue building upon a solid SEO foundation that will reverberate for years to come.

Features and Functions

The following guidelines have been taken from what Google has stated as recommended practices for achieving in-depth content rankings, along with factors that have demonstrated strong correlation to in-depth content results.

  • Use Schema Article Markup
  • Use Google Authorship and Publisher markup
  • Use proper coding for paginated pages (have content that is paginated)
  • Word count can range from 2,000 – 5,000 words
  • Content should be compelling
  • Encourage Social Sharing
  • Articles that have demonstrated that they continue to be relevant 1-4 years after being published seem to dominate the in-depth article results.

SEO Checklist

Everything we reviewed at the beginning of this course in the lessons on the basics of content optimization should be applied.

  • Have an article of between 2,000 – 5,000 words.
  • Use proper pagination markup including rel=”previous” and rel=”next”
  • Make sure the content is optimized according to the static content optimization checklist.
  • Use the following Article Markup
    • Headline
    • Alternative Headline ( a secondary headline, or subheading)
    • Image (the URL of the image must be crawlable and indexable)
    • Description
    • Date Published
    • Article Body
    • Organization Logo
  • Sites with a Page Rank of 7 or more have a much stronger chance of getting “in-depth” results. Sites with a Page Rank of 5 or less are rarely if ever featured.
  • Strong Brand signals.
  • Strong social sharing helps.
  • Build Links from highly authoritative sources.
  • Build co-citation from highly authoritative sources.

Marketing, Syndication, Distribution, Social Engagement

Once you have created and posted your in-depth article it is critically important to help it gain notoriety and do create off-site signals that it is an important and authoritative piece. Use each of the following steps to help demonstrate that your in-depth article is seen as relevant and important by the online community, and repeat these activities several times per year for 2-3 years for each in-depth article.

  • Post to all of your social profiles with a compelling headline that calls out just one important, incredible or controversial fact that encourages people to click, read and share.
  • Ask people within your company to share the in-depth article on their social profiles.
  • Post to groups and ask for feedback, thoughts and discussion.
  • Put some small budget, even just $15-$20 toward promoting your in-depth article on Facebook and/or LinkedIn.
  • Update your article with new information whenever any is found and re-release/promote it with the updated info.
  • Seek bloggers, journalists and key influencers who write/share about information relevant to your in-depth article. Ask for their feedback/thoughts. If they give you good information, incorporate it into the article, give them credit within the article and let them know that you have added their info and that you are promoting the piece again. They are likely to feel complimented by this and are more likely to share your piece, drawing the attention of their audience to your site. This is a great way to build a relationship with key influencers.
  • Keep a list of the top questions and answers that are covered in your in-depth article and occasionally search for related questions on Q&A sites like Yahoo Answers, Quora and WikiHow. Contribute answers and include links back to your content.

In-Depth Articles Are Not Easy

But They Can Be Worth The Effort!

Next In the next lesson we will take a look at