Recently, Google introduced a new search feature called “in-depth articles” The idea behind this feature is that mid-way down on the first page of search results for more popular keywords, you’ll find older, but extremely relevant, content that serves as a “guide” to the topic at hand.
Google wants good content, not necessarily new content. When you hear bloggers talk about “pillar” evergreen posts, this is what they mean.
Learning More about In-Depth Articles
Ana from Traffic Generation Cafe wrote a really great piece about this announcement, which you can find here. I really recommend giving it a read if you want to get started writing content for Google’s new in-depth article feature. In this post, she also points to another interesting and extremely helpful post on the topic, from Mark Traphagen. In one of the comments, he writes,
We tend to think of Google as being really, really smart and almost omniscient. And compared to other data retrieval systems, it is leaps and bounds ahead. But the reality is that properly indexing, evaluating, and ranking the billions upon billions of pages on the web is more enormous than most people think. And at the end of the day, even Google ends up taking easy short cuts.
We have to face the reality that Google doesn’t care about “surfacing the little guy” or “reduced access to legacy content.” Their business model is built upon getting something useful to the searcher withing the top few results or ads. They may say they want to rank the “best,” but at the end of the day, how can they even successfully judge that, and if users are happy with what they are getting in the top few positions, then it works for Google.
What really struck me about this statement was how right Mark is about Google not caring about “surfacing the little guy.” In fact, I would go as far as saying that Google doesn’t care about your content at all, even if it is awesome. They aren’t some altruistic being whose job it is to find great content and make sure the world sees it. They’re a business performing a service, and that service is giving people answers to their questions based on whatever keywords they type into that little box.
Google doesn’t care if your piece was more well-written or insightful if the search results are already full of relevant, quality content. Their aim is to consistently show good results, even great results, but they don’t care about showing the best results.
This post sounds a little bitter, but I promise it’s not. What I’m trying to get across is this:
Awesome content is not enough.
At least, it isn’t for Google, especially for their new in-depth articles. Awesome content will make readers love you, but search engines care about relevant more than awesome.
So, What Can A Blogger Do to Get Some Google In-Depth Article Love?
Actually, it isn’t as hard as it sounds. Google might always cater to large sites they know and trust, but just because you’re not The New Yorker doesn’t mean you’re doomed to live on page two or three of the search results.
I’ve never given much thought to SEO. I always thought that writing great content was always the best SEO tactic I could use. And I still think that’s the case. But recently, some SEO experts taught me a little about basic keyword research (shout-out to the team at DragonSearch!) and it has made all the difference. In addition, here are a few tips Google has given us about getting your content flagged as an in-depth article:
Google Authorship matters. Here’s a tutorial on how to add this markup to your blog if you haven’t already.
- If your posts include multiple pages, the tags rel=next, rel=prev and rel=canonical matter. Use them.
- Link your brand logo to your Google+ page.
- Learn more about Schema.org markup for articles
And ALWAYS write awesome content, even if Google doesn’t give a rat’s patootie. At the end of the day, people matter more than Google. Google will help you get found initially if you cater toward their algorithm, but people will share your in-depth content if it is the best they’ve seen.