How To Use “In-Depth Article” Feature To Improve Site Traffic

By Joydeep Bhattacharya. Filed in Web 2.0

Google launched the "In-Depth Articles" feature in August 2013 in order to help users find information focused around broad topics like search engines, SEO, happiness, goals, love, life etc. This feature is great to get your content highlighted in search result pages, which ultimately helps to drive more traffic to your site.

In-depth articles allow you to target broader queries that have large search volume thereby increasing the chances of getting noticeable amounts of visits to your site. You are targeting the long tail queries to drive traffic because they are easier to rank for as opposed to the broader ones. But, what will happen if you start getting traffic from the fat head keywords as well! Visits will just start to explode.

In-depth articles are an invitation by Google to showcase your articles if it meets the criteria. This article will provide you with all the information you need for rebranding your articles and site for in-depth mode.

A Look at "In-Depth Articles"

The screenshot below displays the in-depth articles for the query "Love". It contains a title, site name, snippet, an image from the article and its date of publishing. The articles that get featured here are of high quality and lets you explore more about any subject.

Google generally returns evergreen resources not only from news sites but from other general sites as well. However, sites featured under in-depth articles are of high authority, having lots of backlinks, citations, comments and social love.

Criteria For "In-Depth Articles"

So, what are the criteria that determine which results Google displays under this feature? The section below explores some of the vital factors that are used by Google to rank any site under the in-depth articles feature.

The decision to display content from any site under in-depth articles is computed algorithmically. However, Google has provided certain guidelines for optimizing a site for this feature. Let us discuss these guidelines one by one.

1. Schema.org Article Mark Up

The Schema.org article mark up covers all sorts of articles and their meta data which must be supplied to Google in order to enable it to process the information contained in your web pages accurately, and present the search results in a better way.

But, in reality, you are not only helping Google to display better search results but also helping your site to be optimized for a better search experience, increasing the chances of getting your web page featured under the in-depth articles section.

The following six attributes are the most important:

Property

Type

Description

Used On

headline

Text

Headline of the article

CreativeWork

alternativeHeadline

Text

A secondary title of the CreativeWork

CreativeWork

Image

URL

URL of an image of the item

Thing

description

Text

A short description of the item

Thing

datePublished

Date

Date of first broadcast/publication

CreativeWork

articleBody

Text

The actual body of the article

Article

2. Google Authorship Markup

Authorship allows Google to move from anonymous to known web. Articles written by trusted and reputed authors are more likely to get included under the in-depth articles feature. You can add authorship markup to any web page by linking the content written by you with your Google Plus profile.

In order to set up authorship for your written articles, follow the steps given below:

  1. Create a Google Plus profile.
  2. Upload the profile picture you want to display in the search results.
  3. Visit https://plus.google.com/authorship and verify your email.

[For more info, read this.]

After you have verified yourself as an author, all your published content affiliated with that email id would be displayed in Google results under your authorship.

As an example, the screenshot below displays an in-depth article showing authorship markup when searched for the query: Barack Obama.

 

Here, the authorship markup for The Daily Beast writer, Niall Ferguson gets highlighted under in-depth articles. Content by renowned authors can amazingly increase the clickthrough rate of any site. This is the reason Google prefers the use of authorship to a great extent.

3. Pagination Using Rel=next and Rel=prev links

There may be times when in-depth articles that are "too long" are divided into several pages for easy reading. If this is the case, then Google recommends the use of pagination using rel=next and rel=prev links.

The rel=next and rel=prev HTML tags are used to indicate a relationship between different URLs having continued content. Suppose if a long article is divided into 3 parts displayed on 3 different URLs as shown below:-

Domain.com/part1.html
Domain.com/part2.html
Domain.com/part3.html

Then, the rel=next tag should be added in the head section of the first page as follows:

<link rel="next" href="http://www.domain.com/part2.html"> 

This will tell Google that the article is continued to the next page that is located in the part2.html URL.

Similarly, on part2.html, the rel=prev tags need to be added in the head section:

<link rel="prev" href="http://www.domain.com/part1.html">
<link rel="next" href="http://www.domain.com/part3.html">

And on part3.html, following tags need to be added:-

<link rel="prev" href="http://www.example.com/article-part3.html">

These tags will clearly indicate Google that the article is divided into 3 pages and hence enable it to compete for the in-depth search space.

Similarly, canonical tags should be added on every individual page instead of only the first page in the series.

4. Source Identification Using a Logo

A logo is a great way for the users to identify the brand associated with the article. Google recommends the display of your logo under the in-depth articles column. You can add a logo of your brand by either linking your Google Plus page to your website or by using organizational mark up as given below:-

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Organization">
	<a itemprop="url" href="http://www.domain.com/">Home</a>
	<img itemprop="logo" src="http://www.domain.com/companylogo.png" />
</div>

The screenshot below shows posts bearing site logos like the New York Times, The Guardian and the Wall Street journal.

5. First Click Free (FCF)

Google also recommends implementing FCF feature if your site displays high quality content to the users only after they have registered for the site. Content access for registered users restricts Google from crawling the content of the site. If Google is not able to crawl the content then it cannot display it under the in-depth articles feature.

Hence, you need to allow users to access content on your site from the Google search results itself. Under first click free, users are able to see the full content of the webpage in their first click to the site. However, when they further click to the original link, there are required to register to the site (more info here).

The Current Winners

Top sites that publish high quality content on a regular basis, like Wired, New Yorker, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are clearly reaping the maximum benefits of in-depth articles. Here are some of the features that were found in most of the articles shown under in-depth articles:

1. Content

The number of words presented in the articles was found to be between 1500-5000 or more. Content presented were really comprehensive using extensive resources.

2. Comments

Interestingly, sites continuously ranked under in-depth articles displayed positive user comments. Comments were found in the range of 50-1000 or more. Hence, user engagement is the main signal for ranking documents under this feature. The more the comments, the better are the chances of ranking.

3. Social Shares

Another major factor for measuring user engagement is the number of social shares. Ranked documents were full of social shares having thousands of Likes, tweets and +1. A search for "cat" returns a March 2012 article from theatlantic.com as displayed in the image below:

The amount of social shares that this article received was simply awesome. Most importantly, the article had over 1000 comments. These are great signals for Google to determine and rate in-depth articles.

4. Date of Publishing

This was a slight twist. Google mostly presented two fresh results and one old result depending on the type of search query. Recently published articles (more than 3-4 months old) that have a good number of comments were given priority but evergreen articles published years ago with tremendous number of social shares and comments rank easiest.

5. Domain Authority

Only trusted sites with high domain authority in the range of 90+ were shown under in-depth articles. DA is a metric provided by Moz that helps us to judge the importance of a web page after scrutinizing several factors like age of the domain, quality of links pointing to the domain, Page Rank of the domain, TrustRank of the domain etc. This metric is great in quickly identifying the top quality sites.

6. Tf-Idf Score

Term frequency and inverse document frequency calculation, collectively called as Tf-Idf score is one of the important metrics for judging the quality of content present in a document. The presence of uncommon words within the text body is a great signal for evaluating the relative importance of a web page.

Tf-Idf is a score based on the relative importance of words present in a set of documents and this score is used to provide weightage in data fetching. Hence, presence of unique words is a great identification for Google that the page is relevant enough to get displayed under in-depth articles.

7. Other factors

Page Rank. When it comes to ranking older documents, Page Rank is also a signal. But, this is a relatively weak factor that is not given much priority while fetching the final results.

Image. Article must have an image that is craw-lable and it must be specified using schema mark up. This enables Google to identify primary image and helps it to display it as a snippet in the in-depth articles section.

Backlinks. This is the most obvious part of the ranking algorithm. Articles that have numerous (hundreds or thousands of) natural backlinks pointing to them will secure a place under in-depth articles.

Trusted Seeds. Sites that are most favored by Google and used as a standard for judging the quality of other sites are known as trusted seeds. Under the in-depth articles feature, these small niches of "trusted seeds" seem to rank for most of the queries. This clearly means, just having quality content is not enough. Your entire domain and the quality of articles presented to the users should be trusted enough to make Google judge the overall reputation of the site while evaluating the metrics associated with your domain.

Conclusion

Google says more than 10% of users’ daily information needs is focused around broad topics which require deep research and comprehensive articles. In-depth articles acts as refinement for the big G and presents documents that have research-worthy materials in them. Getting your article featured under in-depth articles section is a great way to capture a high percentage of additional clicks related to your industry.

You just have to make sure to create articles that are of high quality which serves the users well. Google prefers to display "evergreen content" that remain important for years to come. Also, work towards increasing the authority of your site because trusted, reputed and authoritative domains are always given a preference.

Please share your comments about this new feature of in-depth articles and let me know any additional factors which you might have noticed in the articles displayed under the in-depth articles section.

Editor’s note: This post is written by Joydeep Bhattacharya for Hongkiat.com. Joydeep Bhattacharya is an inbound marketer and author of seo blog seosandwitch.com. He has been associated with the field of internet marketing since 2009. Besides serving his passion for SEO, SMO and PPC marketing he loves to read books and spend time on social media sites. You can find him on G+.

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