Twitter and Facebook have been a flurry the last few days in the UK with the introduction of “In-depth Articles” into Google’s search results. However this isn’t a new piece of technology it was actually released in the US almost 12 months ago.
Why have In-depth Articles?
If we look from a Search Perspective you may be familiar with the long-tail theory this is where a user has a search journey, for example:
- A generic search for ‘used cars’ may be carried out from someone who is interested in looking at whats available on the market – Research Phase
- Higher Search volume / Low Conversion
- A Semi generic search for “used ford cars” may be a second stage search – this is both Research / Enquiry Phase
- Medium Search volume / medium conversion
- A long tail search for “Used ford fiesta black” is a specific search – Buying Phase
- Low Search volume / high conversion
Next, lets look at Google’s aim:
Our goal is to have people leave our website as quickly as possible.
With Google’s aim in mind, the introduction of “in-depth articles” makes sense to provide search results which 10% of users are looking for at the first search. This is one of the reasons why Google introduced “instant” (Completely nothing to do with ad revenue 🙂
However not every search is for commerce! – This is an important point people use Google to find information, the majority of time this is not to make a purchase so Google’s aim is to allow searches to discover great in-depth articles.
Users often turn to Google to answer a quick question, but research suggests that up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic. That’s why today we’re introducing new search results to help users find in-depth articles.
They also mention:
To understand a broad topic, sometimes you need more than a quick answer. Our research indicates perhaps 10% of people’s daily information needs fit this category.
What is Google Looking for in an In-Depth Article?
In-depth articles like organic search or Google News are ranked algorithmically specifically looking at “high quality, in-depth content” – Duh! However Google likes a helping hand in understanding if your site produces content like this and so they recommend the following:
- use schema.org “article” markup
- provide authorship markup
- rel=next and rel=prev for paginated articles (also watch out for common rel=canonical mistakes)
- provide information about your organization’s logo,
In-Depth Article Schema Markup
So firstly ensure that you have marked up your blog / news with ‘Article Markup. If this is done properly you should be able to see the results in Google Webmaster tools.
The key parts are:
- Alternative Headline (SEO title tag)
- Image (crawlable and indexable)
- Date published
- Article body
Next we need to use our Google Authorship and link that to the Article. – If your unsure how to do this please read this article by Jeroen van Eck.
Then provide information about the organization or publications Logo.
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Organization"> <a itemprop="url" href="http://www.example.com/">Home</a> <img itemprop="logo" src="http://www.example.com/logo.png" /> </div>
This is done again using Schema Mark up.
What’s clear is that articles between 2,000 and 5,000 words in length and written by big brands dominate these new search results.
So we are talking about “Long Form Content”; you may have changed your posts from 300 words to 800 words because of ‘Panda’ but they are not going to scratch the surface.
@dr_pete wrote a great article about in-depth articles soon after the release in the US last year. He correlated data from Mozcast (which tracks a set of 10,000 queries and their features) and he picked up on the following:
- All in-depth article blocks we’re currently tracking have three results
- Some in-depth articles appeared in the middle of search results, but the majority at the bottom.
- His research suggested 6.9% of queries could contain in-depth articles.
One oddity – in-depth article blocks seem to appear on pages with nine organic results, suggesting that the in-depth block itself may be treated as result #10.
You can see a universal search result for martial arts showing:
- Top site with site links (1)
- News Result (2 & 3)
- Image Results (4)
- Organic Serp result (5)
- Video Result (6)
- Organic Serp result (7,8,9)
- In-Depth Articles (10+)
The Affect on Big Brands:
You can see below the new SERP for “Coca Cola” in the UK containing:
- PPC Ads
- Organic Serps
- Knowledge Graph
- In-depth Articles
- Local Results
The main parts I would be interested to know are:
- What CTR is like?
- How age affects the ranking of the articles?
Conspiracy theorist in me
I tend to think that Google are highly motivated in making SERP changes for Monetary value, with this and Google Looking to push Native ads at some point could this be the roll out to analyse success of indepth articles which they can later use for “sponsored stories”?
That’s my final prediction 🙂
What do you think?