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Long-Form Content Finds a New Home on Google

long-form content on GoogleCertain Internet users may be specifically looking for long-form content when performing a Google search, but not as many as you might think. In fact, many Internet users do a quick scan of their environment when making a purchasing decision. The average Internet user reads 2-6 reviews before forming an opinion. Only 22 percent read more than 7 reviews. What statistics show about these habits might have a noted impact on your online reputation management efforts.

Furthermore, a Google study in the summer of 2013 showed that only 10 percent of users are typically searching for long-form, detailed information when performing a Google search. 

For business owners and content marketers, writing compelling and high-quality content is always a vital element of their strategy – but length may not be the most significant concern. The tide, though, may be turning. As a way to accentuate the steady amount of long-form content online, Google has built a platform that’s easily visible for the user. In early August, Google unveiled a new search feature highlighting long-form content. These in-depth articles are currently for popular search terms such as “cheese,” “football” and “investment.”

Google has been slowly moving towards this concept for several months, most notably with the search engine’s Panda updates. Unsurprisingly, this new search feature was developed by Pandu Nayak, who also created the Panda algorithm. In press releases, he expressed appreciation for those who develop in-depth content that remains relevant to the audience for months and years after the publication date.

Additionally, the new search feature is said to improve the visibility of lesser-known blogs and publications. A passel of articles appear that include a title, short description, source, thumbnail image and logo.

Early results of in-depth content feature mixed

A few issues still occur that prevent the new content feature from reaching full potential. When you search for certain terms, you still receive no in-depth articles. 

Even more troubling for the underdog: So far, organizations such as New York Times, Washington Monthly, Fast Company, The Daily Beast and Mashable have been prominently displayed in early searches. This stands in sharp contrast with the original message from Google that all sources will be considered equal as long as they offer high-quality content. As the system works out some kinks, Google developers have asked for patience.

What happens right now when you perform a search and access the In-Depth Content feature? Articles that range from about 2,000 to 5,000 words are dominating the list at first glance, with those written by major sites and businesses also holding significant weight. Still, Google promises that the range of source will expand going forward, yielding a few offbeat choices for these popular terms. Their state goals suggest that the element of surprise is an important factor in future determinations. Google will continue to tweak the system so that in-depth articles eventually rank in lockstep with the user’s intentions.

As part of a solid online marketing strategy, high-quality content is paramount. Furthermore, your online reputation is shaped by the complete portrait of you and your business. Not every piece of content that you create needs to be thousands of words in length. Your online reputation involves much more than devoting ample space to your thoughts. It’s also about providing fresh, relevant information to attract your audience while managing a positive identity. Here are some simple tools that will give Google the capability of finding and showcasing your in-depth articles.

Optimize your articles

In order to be included in this exciting new search feature, it’s recommended that you optimize your articles for placement through the in-depth search. Google uses optimized metadata to discover and index your content. This microdata includes:

  • Headline
  • SEO title tag
  • An indexable and crawlable image
  • Description
  • Date published
  • Article body 

Authorship Markup

Claim your content by using Authorship Markup. Anything that you publish online – through your site or through someone else’s – should be linked to your author profile. The benefits that an author received include increased click-through-rates for each search, as well as higher visibility for their posts. Google has now begun using Authorship markup to discover relevant authorities on certain subjects.

First Click Free (FCF) for restricted content

If your content is located behind a registration, subscription or paywall, then you must implement the FCF protocol. The FCF allows Google to seek out hidden content, and then index it so that it appears in search queries. When users access your site, they will be able to read the whole article. Keep in mind that the moment that users click on any link that leads to restricted content, they are required to register.

Paginate lengthy content

In some cases, online publishers will divide your article into multiple pages. The practice is designed to formulate a more convenient user experience, but article depth can be compromised. To assist Google’s algorithms in correctly identifying in-depth articles, use proper pagination markup.

Optimize your logo

Google posts logos along with this in-depth content to provide users an idea about the article source. Connect your Google+ profile with your website, and then choose your business’s logo. You must also specify your logo by using organizational markup. 

The above tips will assist in your efforts to establish a visible and positive online reputation. By putting your best foot forward, you pave the way for more sales and customer retention.

(Long-form content / shutterstock)

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