Just one year ago, Google introduced their “In-depth articles.”  I first read about this on Search Engine Land.  In that report, they said, “It’s not yet clear whether all publishers and sites will have equal access to this area via structured content markup or whether there’s some sort of internal white list of approved publishers.”

One year later it’s becoming quite clear that all publishers are not equal in Google’s In-depth algorithm.

In my own research, it’s now painfully obvious that Google has made this change to give traditional media (print and broadcast) a way to compete against Internet-only media.

As evidence, here is a wide range of samples I typed in and what popped up in the SERPs –

google in-depth example“Population Growth”
National Geographic
Mother Jones

“Secret Societies”
New York Magazine

“Taylor Swift”
The New Yorker
Vanity Fair

National Geographic
Public Broadcasting Service

“Global Warming”
The Atlantic – June 2014
Rolling Stone – July 2012
The New York Review of Books – March 2012


London Review of Books – March 2007 (oldie but goodie?)
The Guardian –  Nov 2013
The New Republic –  Sept 2013

Harvard Business Review – Aug 2012
The New York Times – Feb 2012
Harvard Business Review – ?

Clearly, Marketing Week has no good In-depth articles worthy of Google’s top 3. In fact, if you click the “More” link to see more In-depth articles, we find The New York Times not only in position 2, but also in positions 4, and 7 out of the 10 available positions.

Just to be very clear. Here’s the full list of expert “In-depth” resources if you’re interesting in marketing. Let’s see if any of them have the word “marketing” in their titles, shall we?

Harvard Business Review
The New York Times
Harvard Business Review
The New York Times (once again, sigh)
The New York Times (wow)

“Digital Advertising”
The Atlantic – Feb 2012
TechCrunch – Sept 2013
Fast Company – Nov 2010

The New York Times – April 2010
Vanity Fair – Sept 2011
Bloomberg Businessweek – April 2011

This one really bothers me. The economy has changed drastically over the last few years, yet Google features an In-depth Article from 2010. Clearly timeliness is irrelevant in these results.

The Verge – March 2013
British Broadcasting Corporation – Feb 2011
Public Broadcasting Service – ?

Discovery – Nov 2006
National Geographic – ?
Time – Sept 2012

The New York Times – May 2014
Marie Claire – Sept 2011
Forbes – May 2014

“Breast Cancer”
Marie Clair – Sept 2011
The New York Times – April 2013
Mother Jones – ?

“New York City”
The Guardian – Oct 2013
Vanity Fair –  May 2014
Pitchfork Media – March 2012

Nothing from The New York Times? Wow!

Wired – Sept 2013
The New York Times… sigh… again – Dec 2013
Academy of American Poets – ?

The New York Times made the cut for Chicago, but not for New York!

“San Antonio”
The New York Times – March 2010
Travel + Leisure – ?
Grantland.com – June 2014

The New York Times also made the cut for San Antonio. But a Texas Monthly article “San Antonio Rose” from Feb 2013 did not make the cut.

You’ll note that in my little test, The New York Times shows up to a disproportionate degree. Moz.com found the same thing in their extensive test from August 2013.   In their survey, Moz ranked the top 10 of 352 searches. All but one were big media and print companies. The one exception was TheDailyBeast.com.

Blog writers get no such assistance

Over the years, as the Internet slowly killed traditional media, I thought Google would extend a hand to them. I wrote about this back when Google Authorrank started to take off. It was clear authors at big traditional publications would have an unfair advantage there, and now with In-depth.

Over at the real Internet, blog writers are competing on who can write the most-loved content. As long as you also make proper use of key phrases, your website will rank higher for those phrases, regardless of your writing pedigree. To me, that seems like a more fair approach.

May the best blog writers win.

Further Reading –

Google page on how to get yourself on an In-depth articles page.
Don’t hold your breath. They neglect to mention the sure-fire way to get in an In-depth article section – become a traditional print publication struggling for relevance in an Internet world.

Tagged with →  
Share →