Following on from last week’s blog on Google and the uncertainties surrounding SEO, Google has announced a new feature in its search results – In-Depth Articles.
Google explains that for around 10% of its searches, users are looking for more than a quick answer to a query. So it has rolled out a new feature that highlights longer, more detailed, ‘in-depth’ articles in the main search results (only on google.com in English for now).
For example, if you’d seen the recent developments in the Apple v Samsung patent saga (Obama overturns Apple import ban and Apple scores another victory), a search for ‘patents’ would return up an interesting article from The New York Times about software patents being used as destructive weapons.
Quality not Quantity, but still Quantitative
This focus on ‘quality’ as opposed to those who’ve been able to game the algorithm presents publishers with a new way to rise to the top of the rankings, and Google has indicated that lesser-known publications and blogs will also feature in these In-Depth Articles results. Although this sounds more subjective than the algorithm, assessments of ‘quality’ will no doubt have a significant quantitative element, building on Google’s work in natural language processing and its acquisition of Wavii earlier this year.
It is the continual tweaking and updates like this which have kept Google ahead of rivals. In a typical year, Google will manually evaluate tens of thousands of search results and conduct thousands of side-by-side and live traffic experiments, culminating in the launch of over 500 improvements to its search algorithms.
(Clearly, Google’s incumbency position is hugely valuable here, as it has enormous volumes of real-time data to be able to test these often relatively small incremental enhancements. Those coming from behind, like Bing, simply don’t have access to the same level of data, although the volumes they do collect are still relatively large.)
For website owners and publishers reliant on the rankings, it can be a challenge to keep on top of all of these changes to ensure your position isn’t detrimentally affected. So if you don’t have the time or budget to spend on significant SEO, make sure you focus on the basics (see here for some suggestions) and, needless to say, create compelling, in-depth content.