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In August last year, shortly before the Hummingbird algorithm update, Google introduced a new function to its search engine results pages (SERP’s) in the United States that now displays three related in-depth articles at the bottom of the search results page accompanied by images.
For those of us elsewhere in the world, we can expect to see these articles hit our results pages soon in 2014.
In short, in-depth articles are detailed write-ups on a particular topic, generally by industry leading sources. These might include whitepapers, case studies or published business reports.
Since its inception, Google has added new search functionalities that are specific to articles; allowing its users to explore more content (an additional 10), discover articles that are of a related subject and make use of a new keyword search to find even more material.
Google’s reasoning behind the update is to assist the 10% or so of its users that are seeking more than just a speedy answer that only brushes over a topic. Instead, they want to focus on material that allows their searchers to not just dig deeper but to also push their understanding of a subject even further.
This addition to Google’s SERP’s could not have come at a better time, as soon after they released Google Hummingbird.
Hummingbird has placed even more emphasis on producing rich, quality content. In-depth articles are a great way to achieve this.
To ensure that your in-depth content is crawled, indexed and actually shows up in the SERPs the following tips have been put forward on Google’s webmaster page.
Schema.org is a site that assists webmasters in optimising the coding and pages of their site in a way that will be recognised by all of the major search engines.
To provide search engines with more information, Schema suggests adding micro data to your website’s coding to give specific reference to the various elements of your pages and content.
To make sure that your material is considered for ranking Google recommends implementing the Schema mark-up to the following aspects of your site’s HTML structure:
A great tool to use is the Schema mark-up generator which makes the mark-up process much simpler.
Authorship mark-up helps Google’s algorithm to find and attach relevant authors and experts to particular search queries and in-depth topics.
If you want to link yourself to the material you publish you will need to set up a Google+ account with an easily recognisable headshot.
Once this has been set up, you then need to make sure that you always include a by-line that appears on each page of your content. The name in the by-line must also match the name on your Google+ profile.
When you set a piece live on your website, it is also recommended that you add the link below to the page’s coding in the author bio section.
<a href=”[profile_url]?rel=author”>Your Name</a>
The section of the code that says ‘profile URL’ should be replaced with the link to your Google+ profile page like so:
The link you add must contain the ?rel=author section otherwise Google will not be able to pull across your profile and associate it with your content.
To finish up you will want to establish a reciprocal link back to the site you just added your Google+ profile to. Go to your Google+ page and edit the contributor to section, from there click the “add custom link” text, enter your site’s URL and hey presto, your authorship mark-up is complete.
If you have content that is paginated on your site and would like for it to appear in search results it is advised that you add rel=”next” and rel=”prev” HTML attributes to indicate to Google the relationship that the various pages of your article have with one another (more info).
By using this code, Google will then be able to understand that you wish for these pages to be indexed as part of a flowing sequence.
So let’s take a look at this in practice, say that the URL’s below constitute your paginated article.
The first page will only need to point to the next page in the sequence by adding the link tag below to the head section of your page one code.
<link rel=”next” href=”http://www.example.com/article-part2.html”>
To link the middle page (page 2) you will need to add rel=”prev” and rel=”next” that directs readers to both the first page and the last page. It should look something like this:
<link rel=”prev” href=”http://www.koozai-example.com/article-part1.html”>
<link rel=”next” href=”http://www.koozai-example.com/article-part3.html”>
Once you reach the last page in the sequence you will only need to add a rel=”prev” link tag that directs to the middle page as there is nothing to link on to further.
It goes without saying, but one of the key steps to ensure that your in-depth articles are picked up by Google is to have rich, informative and detailed text within them.
All of the information, data and statistics need to be kept up to date if your work is going to have any authority over the competition.
Currently content producers writing in-depth articles that are successfully indexed by Google mainly include reputable news sources like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and The Huffington Post. However, this is likely to change as the articles become more commonplace.
So now we know what in-depth articles are and how to tweak them to increase their chances of being noticed by Google, let’s take a look at the advantages of creating richer content:
Please, feel free to share your thoughts on in-depth articles and how you feel they will benefit content marketing and SEO in the near future in the comments section below.