On August 2013, Google rolled out the in-depth articles feature for its SERPs. This update came to facilitate users with the discovery of new material and content that will help them learn more about a broad topic. It prioritizes websites with long-form content for general subjects.
Google’s algorithm automatically ranks results according to the hundreds of signals it uses to determine high-quality and in-depth content. The search engine has always put its users’ needs first, and this update is no different.
Essentially, the update suggests additional resources that users may enjoy reading to find out more about the query they typed in. The content can range from the latest news to pages with related keywords. When the in-depth articles section in the SERPs first rolled out, it came with a label to inform users of these supplementary materials which were three links initially. The search engine also displayed thumbnails to complement the title and snippet.
Over time, this section of the search engine has seamlessly blended into the standard organic results lending it nearly indistinguishable. Today, the SERP is so information-rich with the Knowledge Graph and Top Stories prominently displayed on the screen.
In the 10,000 queries that Moz monitored after the update rolled out, the team found that 352 searches showed in-depth articles which makes up about 3.5 percent of the sample. With Google’s global volume metric, the search terms were credited for 6.9 percent of total volume for the data set which implied that these keywords generated high traffic volume.
At the time, examples of high-volume searches included “jobs,” “ancestry,” “wedding dresses,” and “smartphone.” As you can see, these search terms were relatively vague unlike well-performing long-tail queries such as “post-traumatic stress disorder” and “department of homeland security.”
News publications did well after the update since their content generally included useful and time-relevant information to most general searches. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New Yorker, and Guardian were some of the prominent winners of the in-depth articles update.
Google has shared tips to improve the chances that your content pops up in the in-depth articles block. Their quality guidelines encouraged site operators to create posts for users first and search bots second. Moreover, the developers will never tolerate tricks and tactics meant to deceive searchers and manipulate the search engine, so it’s best to stay away from black hat techniques altogether.
Aside from following the search engine’s quality guidelines, these are the specific ways to help search bots navigate through your site better and boost the probability of your content being displayed as an additional resource in the SERPs:
Now, the search engine no longer displays thumbnails for each result. Nonetheless, it’s still best to specify a logo using the Schema.org markup and use it on your social media profiles consistently.
It’s crucial to note that the authorship markup was once recommended as a best practice for in-depth articles, but it has since been rendered ineffective since the feature has been retired. The idea behind Google Authorship was that author reputations influenced page rankings through digital signatures.