What is Google Discover?

Google Discover is a personalized, news-based feed that shows you the most relevant and important information based on your online activity. It is automatically generated, but highly personalized and tailored to your interests.

When it comes to content discovery Google is really a social network in disguise, but your search activity and history are incredibly important when it comes to providing a relevant and timely results feed. Millions of people are seeing Google Discover on their mobile devices every day, which has become an important source of traffic for many websites.

Many people used to find media and news articles for their daily news fix by searching Google News. It was a reliable way of finding an interesting article you may not have found otherwise. However, Discover changed that. Not many people know that they can search Google’s Discover feed. But the fact is, it provides deep content with trending news topics.

How Google Discover Generates Your Feed

Google first looks at your activity across all Google products (your search activity, watched YouTube videos, and engagement with Discover results). They also look at where you’ve been and what topics you engage in. This data tells them who you are and what you like to do.

Do you see the similarity between social networks and a feed? Your feed is personalized, reflecting your hobbies, topics that interest you, and everything in the world relevant to you. It’s so personalized that it also looks at how knowledgeable or interested you are in a given topic and displays things accordingly.

For example, half of my feed is almost always on the topic of cybersecurity given that I often interact with the community around it. As you can see, you can even “follow” the topic of cybersecurity if you wanted.

Driving Google Discover Traffic To Your Website

Once your SEO efforts are advanced, and you are getting a lot of regular organic traffic, then you can start proactively trying to get clicks from Discover. If you just started a blog or have a few posts, most of the time it will be better to prioritize standard organic traffic.

Optimizing for Google Discover is a question that is full of uncertainty. There’s not much you can do in terms of research, as the only data you have is in your Google Search Console. You also cannot analyze your competitors because there is no data. You’ve got to trust what you know about your website or product and test it.

As with any content, it’s hard to predict how it will perform in Google Discover. Especially as this is still a new initiative for us. Speaking from our own experience, you’ll usually see a traffic spike when first publishing your content. Some content will have a steady stream of traffic. Occasionally, the two will overlap and generate traffic.

It’s important to know that you can’t guarantee that X will do Y. There is no surefire way to do SEO and I don’t believe in any magic formulas, but there are some things you can do to significantly increase the chances of the desired outcome.

There are a few official tips for getting your content into Discover, which I’ll cover below. If you want to get featured in Discover, you need to follow the content policies. Below is a list of ways to increase your chances of being featured in Discover.

Mobile-friendly Website

Discover is a mobile-only feed, and your mobile experience is hugely important. At the very least, make sure your site loads quickly and has limited ads, popups, or interstitials. Know that as of May 2021, Core Web Vitals will become a factor in the algorithm; it’s not just about page speed.

When you’re ready to push your content as far as you can, you’ll want to use AMP. According to researchers, more than 60% of all Discover articles are running on AMP. This number is heavily skewed by news websites, and the SEO impact of implementing it is mixed. But the Discover trend is clear.

You can use The Google Mobile-Friendly Test to check if your website is Mobile-friendly.

Web Stories

Here’s something new from Google — Web Stories! They’re kind of like Instagram Stories or stories from Facebook or Snapchat. They look a lot like a normal article in the feed, but there’s no back button, just ‘next’ and ‘previous.’ Even cooler, you can add polls or quizzes to your stories! You can try it out for English articles in the US at the time of writing.

Align your content and metadata

The title tag and meta description should summarize the page’s content and entice users to click on it. They should be truthful, not clickbait-y, and in alignment with Google’s various policies.

Use high-quality images

Discover is just the latest in the feed-driven consumption of content. Like many other social feeds, the images are what get the most attention and so it’s important to use good quality images for all your content. Google recommends large images should be 1200px wide at minimum for both Discover and on your site as a whole. Plugins like Yoast add these automatically.

Evergreen Content

Discover tends to surface lots of timely and evergreen content. Why? News websites dominate the feed with their timely content, but there’s also a good dose of evergreen posts.

The Discover feed is personalized, so it shows new posts to you and not just those that were published last week. For example, say you’re about to start investing in the cryptocurrency market and you need to do a lot of research. You’ll probably encounter articles in your Discover feed that are written specifically for beginners. This means they’ll have tips and advice, descriptions of cryptocurrency exchanges, and all sorts of beginner-specific things.

Where do you find evergreen topics? You start with keyword research. Fact: People love to read about what they’re interested in. So, if you enter a few broad topics into a popular keyword research tool like Keywords Explorer, then you can find what’s popular.

If you want to find popular topics, use tools like Google Trends or Exploding Topics. Just know that merely writing about a popular topic probably isn’t enough. You should provide valuable insights instead of just rehashing what other content creators have said before.

Become a Knowledge Graph entity

In the Knowledge Graph, users can only follow companies that are a part of the Knowledge Panel. To see if your company is in the Knowledge Panel, you can take a look by Googling your brand. If there is a Knowledge Graph panel in the search results, it’s in the Knowledge Panel.

Surprisingly, even if someone follows your brand, you may not show up in their Discover Feed. This is because Google’s Knowledge Graph algorithm tracks what you publish on the web and not what you share in a social media post. So how does being a Knowledge Graph entity help improve your visibility in the Discover Feed?

Being in the Knowledge Graph means Google is deeming your brand “strong enough” for people to find you online. If Google knows what entities and interests are associated with your brand, it may show related content in the search results, like your content.

Heres a good example of a knowledge graph from a popular brand that you likely know. Procter & Gamble, if we search the phrase ‘P and G’ in Google Search you will notice that a knowledge graph containing an overview of the P&G brand will be the first result shown above organic search.

Create a buzz with your content distribution

Discover wants to show the most interesting and engaging content. If you’ve noticed, it seems that posts with a lot of engagement in Discover also tend to do better in the CTR (click-through-rate) in Discover. What may be more surprising, is that we’ve found there’s a strong correlation between social media engagement and your performance in Discover.

Periodically refresh your content

I know how hard it can be to make your work show up on Discover. But don’t worry, it might just be that because your page isn’t showing up in discover doesn’t mean it never will. Have some faith in your content. If you want to reach more people, write better articles. At the same time, republish your past articles if you feel like they need a refresh.

Embed your YouTube videos into articles

Videos in YouTube feeds show up relatively often. Embedding them in your content could lead to Discover showing the videos automatically, not just on the videos’ platform. This can be a way for you to get video views on your content without even using schema markup!

E‑A-T

Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines help webmasters understand Google’s guidelines and expectations for good, quality search results. The document defines E‑A-T as expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. It was written to help human quality raters assess web pages, and it was published online by Google in 2013.

Google says you need to show expertise, authority, and trustworthiness in order to rank higher in the search engine. There are many ways to support your E-A-T—the first is to provide clear dates and bylines on the content you are sharing. You may also want to consider information about the author, publication, and contact information to build more transparency.

One way to make sure your site has the right content is to use structured data. This means connecting the dots between your site’s content and web pages. Google’s Affinity categories are a good place to start because they link different kinds of topics. The easiest way to find these categories is in the Affinity Categories report in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics > Audience > Interests > Affinity Categories

Focus on entities

Entities play a vital role in the topic layer. For example, user interests and expertise grow and develop over time for any topic. However, you have to build this knowledge graph or Topic Layer by analyzing content about that topic and all its subtopics.

It appears that some of the topics can be added to Discover as interests even if they aren’t entities in the Knowledge Graph. For example, when querying “meta description”, Knowledge Graph API returns no results, but Discover lists it as an interest to follow

Conclusion 

While there are plenty of options to get traffic on Google’s Discover platform, SEO is not one of them. Unless you have a news website, it won’t be a priority for you. But the optimization tips likely aren’t anything you wouldn’t normally do anyway in everyday SEO work. And the benefits don’t stop with just getting more traffic from Discover. Optimizing your content leads to better SEO and a more diverse stream of traffic in general.

“Google Discover” can increase the number of clicks, even if the primary keywords don’t have much search volume. That’s why it helps to write about interesting topics, even ones that are unrelated to the desired keywords.