You may be a little confused after reading that sub-heading above. Just what the heck am I talking about? What is an in-depth article series? What is an information-dense multi-chapter book? Even though those terms are sort of self-explanatory, most people won’t have a crystal-clear idea of what I mean. An in-depth article series is a whole lot of content, sub-divided into sections or chapters, with links to the chapters from a table of contents.
An in-depth article series is very similar to an information-dense multi-chapter book, and they can be used to refer to the same thing. However, sometimes a multi-chapter book can be used to refer to a proper eBook, so it is best to call it an in-depth article series. There is no real difference between saying “in-depth” and “information-dense”. Now, that we’re clear on what it is, let’s talk about how it can be useful to getting higher search engine rankings.
Imagine you were strategizing at Google about what kind of content the users wanted to see and what kind of content they didn’t want to see, or would rather see. You would probably think that users would want to see more in-depth information about a topic. But, you might say, “Won’t users get bogged down in so much information?” The fact is that they won’t get weighed down with a ton of information, if it is organized in an intelligent way.
If you format and sub-divide your content into succinct, well-written chapters, and users a broad overview from a single table of contents page, they will be much happier. Users want a broad overview of subject matter. They can always click on the links they want to explore a single chapter in greater detail. It’s not like they have to go through each chapter in succession. They can also go back or forward and look at other chapters to put the chapter they’re reading into context or to get some clarification about points they’re unsure of.
Google likes in-depth article series for the same reason that users like in-depth article series. Users want to learn about a topic, and the in-depth article series is the best way to get across information.
You might be tempted to offer up short articles that are easy to read and digest, but ultimately, this will look like thin, information-poor content. Google is used to seeing spam content, and you don’t want anything that could look like that. Show Google that you’re serious and produce an in-depth article series about a topic.
Wikipedia can teach us a whole lot about how valuable in-depth article series are. Have you ever noticed that Wikipedia pages are consistently ranked near the top for one-word keyword phrases? You could learn a lesson or two from them.
Why do they rank so highly? There are lots of reasons for it, e.g., the authority of the site, the number of inbound links, the trustworthiness of the site, the speed of the site, etc. but for the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on the way that they format their entries. Each entry on the Wikipedia site is formatted almost exactly like an in-depth article series. The only difference is that the table of contents doesn’t link out to pages. The table of contents has links to different sections of the same page. The principle is the same, though. Google likes in-depth overviews of topics, and you will have a much better chance of ranking completely for competitive one-word keyword phrases.