The Great “In-Depth Articles” Disappearing Trick

Aaron Friedman, March 31, 2015

On multiple occasions, (here, here, here, and here) we have covered the inclusion of In-depth articles in search results.

On March 26th, 2015, when we looked across nearly 6,000 terms we are tracking, we noticed a sudden decline in the amount of in-depth articles appearing in search results. In the graph below, you can see the percentage of terms within a given peer set, and the day our data indicated they stopped appearing.

In_depth_articles_peer_group_break_down

Are They Really Gone?

The odd part about these numbers was that in-depth articles didn’t actually vanish. They just started displaying differently. When you look side by side, it becomes clear that the only real change was the loss of the tag indicating that these are in-depth articles.

IDA Chevron Result

This change likely indicates that Google’s own research has shown them users are more likely to click on in-depth articles when they believe them to be part of the normal search results. It could be that the title “In-depth articles” may have been distracting or off putting because “in-depth” would imply a greater investment of time.

Future of In-Depth Articles

Regardless, the message is clear. Google still considers in-depth articles an important part of a brand’s search story. One could argue that this step to further blend in-depth articles into more traditional results, rather than keeping them as a stand alone element, indicates just how committed Google is to their continued existence. Whether they are identified as in-depth articles or not, they are still prominently displayed and stand out.

Given Google’s commitment to testing and refining their search algorithm to provide the most value to searchers, we may soon see this evolve further. Having in-depth articles more deeply integrated within a set of results, could be the direction they are going, and this move is the first step.


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