What are In-depth articles?

First introduced in 2013, In-depth articles is a set of search results that appears in line with Google’s normal organic results. They aim to draw attention to more comprehensive (usually long-form) content pertaining to a specific topic. Signified by two faint grey lines bordering the results, in-depth articles typically appear in groups of three within the lower half of the first page of search results for a given query.

These results don’t appear for every query, but are typically found among results for general searches where more detail is needed to satisfy a wide range of user search intent. Examples of query types where in-depth articles can be found include public figures and entertainers, popular brands, and broad topics (i.e. “birds” or “cars”. )

Long-form, authoritative content appears in in-depth section

Content that appears in-depth is considered to be of the highest quality and has been published on well-known, trusted sources. Sources that frequently appear within this section include The New York Times, The Atlantic and The Wall Street Journal, just to name a few.  While news content appears most often, trusted blogs are also considered for inclusion within the in-depth section if the content is relevant and well-written. Compared to article content that appears within the organic search results, in-depth articles are typically longer in length, and contain multiple pages of content.

In-depth articles can impact your online reputation

Search results for major brands, public figures, entertainers, and politicians are among some of the most likely to include a set of in-depth articles on the first page. As such, these groups are some of the most susceptible to having an in-depth article negatively impact their online reputation.

Compared with organic or ‘In the News’ search results, in-depth article results fluctuate less frequently. An article pulled into this section is likely to remain there for the long term, even as news cycles shift. This is especially true if there are few long-form articles to choose from for a given topic. In some cases, this could mean that a potentially damaging interview or exposé can consistently appear on page one of a brand or individual’s search results despite more recent, positive news. In order to prevent this from happening, marketers and public relations professionals must focus on getting high-quality content published on trusted domains that have been known to rank highly within the in-depth article section. Additionally, proper article setup and use of key technical elements will help ensure that Google clearly understands what the article is about, and make it more likely to be pulled into the in-depth results.

The search landscape is always changing

In-depth articles temporarily disappeared from the search results in April 2016, before returning again two weeks later. Some industry experts speculated this was because of an algorithm bug, but this has not been confirmed. Search features like this one are regularly introduced, tested and updated, and marketers must remain vigilant and up-to-date on the latest trends in order to ensure that brand and individual reputations are secure. Reputation management firms that specifically deal with search results can assist in developing positive content that is likely to rank within the in-depth article results, as well as the organic search results for a particular term.