If you’re creating your SEO plan for the year, make sure to keep an eye on Google Discover. Although it has existed in different versions for a while now, it has gone unnoticed by many marketers.
For creators, Google Discover presents a valuable opportunity to drive website traffic and get fresh prospects for SEO, especially if they’re digital journalists running professional news portals.
To assist you in staying ahead of the game in 2023 and beyond, we will reveal our advice on how you can optimize your content for the Google Discover feed.
In this post we’ll cover:
- What is Google Discover
- Why Google Discover matters for SEO
- Google Discover’s Content Eligibility
- How to analyze Discover data in Google Search Console
- 12 ways to optimize your content for Google Discover
- Key Takeaways
What Is Google Discover?
Google Discover is a powerful section of the Chrome browser and the Google app.
It provides a customized news stream designed specifically for mobile devices, delivering articles and videos oriented to its users. The content displayed on the Google Discover feed:
- Is based on the user’s searches and the content they interact with
- Updates regularly and depends on recently published content
- Can be further personalized by the user.
Google Discover’s UX
Before its rebranding, the app had a text-heavy layout that mainly included headlines, meta descriptions, and an occasional photo.
Now, Discover feeds usually feature a combination of news articles and timeless content, with a strong emphasis on multimedia elements such as photography and videos.
Getting access to Google Discover is straightforward. In most Android phones, it’s even incorporated as a screen. When not, it can be found in the Google app or the Chrome browser.
The Google app comes pre-installed on almost every Android phone, while many iPhone users choose Chrome as their main browser. Both apps can be easily downloaded for free from either Google Play or App Store.
Once installed, users will need to sign in using their Google account, and then navigate to the ‘Discover’ tab on Android devices or the ‘Home’ tab on iOS devices, which can be found below the search bar.
When users are scrolling through the Google Discover feed, they can further personalize the displayed content by:
- Indicating they either “like” a piece of news or that they’re not interested in it
- Indicating they’re not interested in the news topic
- Telling Google not to show them news from that specific media anymore
All these settings can be changed later in a section called “Administrate interests”.
Google Discover is not Google News
It’s not surprising many people confuse Google Discover with Google News. They have a similar look, but they’re not the same. In fact, Google News is a different app from the Google and Chrome app, where the Google Discover feed is located.
Google News allows consumers to discover trending stories and relevant material about what’s happening around the world. The main function of Google News is to present search engine results for news topics based on the user’s search query.
Google Discover, on the other hand, shows users interesting information that attracts them without having to search. However, for your marketing content to appear on Google Discover, it must be high quality with web pages indexed by Google. We’ll get into that in the following sections.
Even though they’re not the same, some websites can benefit from both platforms. For instance, news portals can improve their traffic by optimizing their content for both Google Discover and Google News. Here’s why:
- Google Discover allows them to grow their audience by having their content displayed and readily available on the smartphones of potential new readers.
- Google News helps them build loyalty among their returning audience by letting them select their platform as a preferred news source.
Does Google Discover really matter for SEO?
While most people understand that creating valuable content is an essential aspect of SEO, many businesses fail to recognize the potential of Google Discover. As Google Discover enables users to stay updated on their favorite topics, it presents a significant opportunity for businesses to appear in front of their target audience. This is why it matters for SEO.
Some benefits of integrating Google Discover into your content marketing strategy are:
- Users can explore a wide range of content types, including blogs and videos.
- Discover is not limited to only displaying new content. Any article can be featured, regardless of its publish date.
Although still considered a new feature, Google Discover has already proven it has the potential to drive more traffic than Google Search. By the end of 2018, the year Google Discover was launched, Vogue noted that over 75% of its traffic from Google properties came from it.
Of course, you shouldn’t only rely on Google Discover as the only means to drive traffic to your site. But, due to its emphasis on delivering relevant and personalized content, it’s a good idea to incorporate it into your content marketing strategy.
Google Discover vs Google’s traditional search engine
Google’s traditional search function and Discover are complementary to each other. Nonetheless, they are distinct concepts that rely on the same technical principles.
Theoretically, Google Discover takes into account all content available on websites that are indexed by the Google search engine. Both Google’s search engine and Discover focus on delivering user benefits by presenting the most relevant content for them.
Google’s search engine relies on users actively entering one or more search terms, while Google Discover operates the opposite way. Google Discover proactively suggests content that may be of interest to users. Essentially, it works similarly to other news channels, such as social media, except that Google’s algorithm decisively determines the content of the feed, and the user’s active input is unnecessary.
Now, you may wonder what criteria Google uses to match content to users, and at what time. Since Google keeps its algorithms secret and constantly adjusts the number, type, and weighting of individual parameters, there is no answer to this question. Regardless, Google’s evaluation of user interests in Discover is mainly determined by search data, location, and user-provided information.
Google Discover’s Content Eligibility
Content that adheres to Google Discover’s content policies and is indexed by Google has the potential to be featured in Google Discover feeds. However, it’s worth noting that eligibility doesn’t guarantee that the content will be displayed.
Similar to Google Search, Discover tends to favor sites that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) when selecting content. (Spoiler: this is one of the 12 steps in which we’ll dive deeper into the last section).
On the other hand, posts that include the following things will be considered ineligible for display in both SERPs and feeds:
- Dangerous content
- Deceptive practices
- Harassing content
- Hateful content
- Manipulated media
- Medical content
- Sexually explicit content
- Terrorist content
- Violence and gore
- Vulgar language and profanity
Does Headline Length and Word Count Matter to Post Eligibility?
SEO experts, editors, and webmasters often ponder over the ideal word count and headline length for an article that can generate maximum traffic. But, if they want their posts to be displayed in the Google Discover feed, they may also worry about eligibility.
The truth is, word count does not influence eligibility or SEO ranking.
However, considering stats from 2021 of top-performing articles on Google Discover:
- The average headline consists of 15 words
- The average article length is 778 words.
How to analyze Discover data in Google Search Console?
Google has also named the reports “Discover” within Google Search Console. This section allows you to view and measure web traffic that comes from Google Discover. In this way, the data helps you define the content that performs best. In other words, the content that generates the most traffic and the content that does not.
When analyzing your Discover data, you will see the following metrics:
- Traffic volume from Google Discover to your website
- The content that performs best in Discover
- How often your website appears in Discover
- The difference in performance between your content on Discover and traditional searches.
With this information, you can better optimize your content and create similar new content that performs better.
12 ways to optimize your content for Google Discover
Optimizing for Google Discover can be quite challenging due to various factors. The highly personalized nature of content within Google Discover, combined with the lack of publicly available performance data, makes it difficult for SEO professionals to determine what it takes to rank well on this platform.
However, there are some basic good practices that can help you optimize your website to benefit from traffic and conversion acceleration offered by Google Discover.
Here are 12 simple ways to improve your success rate:
- Following Google standard rules
- Avoid Clickbait headlines
- Creating high-quality content
- Data journalism resources
- Using quality images
- Optimize for EAT
- Ensure mobile compatibility
- Generate trending and evergreen content
- Plan a link-building strategy
- Invite users to follow you
- Research competitors
- Social media interaction
Let’s explore each tip.
Follow Google standard rules
First things first. It is important to keep in mind that Google Discover is a property of Google. As such, it adheres to the standard rules and regulations of search engines. Essentially, this means following organic SEO and page ranking practices.
Although keeping up with Google’s periodic algorithm updates can sometimes seem like a full-time job, it is still necessary. To optimize Discover’s potential, you need to maintain standard white hat SEO protocols. If your dedication to improving page ranking and quality score decreases, it is less likely that your content will be selected by Discover.
Avoid Clickbait headlines
Google will naturally reject anything that looks like clickbait or spam. A good headline is honest and conveys what the article is about without promising too much or exaggerating.
More than 14% of all text searches on Google include a question. Take advantage of this circumstance when creating your headlines. If you ask a question, your content is more likely to be selected by Discovery and attract the audience’s attention.
Generate high-quality content
Content is the essence of digital marketing. But this does not mean that you should publish any material.
Google Discover does not randomly choose content to show users. Instead, it looks for quality and meaningful material that improves the user experience. Whether it’s articles, blog posts, videos, and more. Your posts must be highly informative.
So, when creating new content or updating old blog entries, we recommend that you:
- Utilize trend data and current statistics
- Choose long-tail keywords (The average number of keywords that any digital journalist should include in an SEO news article should be 2 to 3 keywords per each line of text)
- Use semantic key phrases
- Incorporate high-quality images and illustrative graphics
- Incorporate the search terms that your marketing personas are likely to search for on Google
- Make a list of related keyword terms and use them to reinforce your content.
Implement data journalism resources
The rapid processing of large databases has opened up new opportunities for data journalism, providing editors, journalists, and writers with a range of exciting possibilities.
By analyzing vast amounts of information on audience behavior, market trends, and other key indicators, news media professionals can:
- Identify gaps in their content and explore them in future articles
- Discover new topics that will interest readers
- Determine the optimal publication schedules and days
- Assess which news stories to follow up on and update based on audience interest.
Additionally, the advanced functionalities of Big Data systems enable media outlets to produce large, high-quality news stories that offer lasting value, generating significant traffic in the process.
Use quality images
One of Google Discover’s goals is to offer users more visual content. This means that to increase your chances of appearing on the platform, you should create more quality graphic content and optimize it properly.
Don’t limit yourself to using images, you can include videos, graphics, and infographics that meet the user’s interests and help amplify your posts.
Some of the criteria that you must take into account in your images if you want to appear on Google Discover are:
- They should be at least 1200 pixels wide
- Fixed size by using max-image-preview setting: large or AMP.
- Avoid using your brand logo as an image.
Optimize for E-A-T
Although Search and Discover are different products, the general principles of E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust) that apply to content are similar.
E-A-T is part of Google’s algorithm included in the Google search quality evaluator guidelines. It stands for:
- Experience, having a high level of knowledge about the topic, demonstrated in the quality of the content
- Authority, the reputation of the website
- Trust, the legitimacy, and transparency of the content information.
Ensure mobile compatibility
We already know that mobile optimization is an important ranking factor in searches. The arrival of Google Discover puts additional emphasis on this component since it is an exclusive feature for mobile.
So it’s important to make sure your website works optimally for mobile. You can use Google’s Mobile Usability Report to check how your site is doing in terms of loading speed and user experience. If not, its chances of ranking in search engines and being chosen by Discover decrease.
Publish both trending and evergreen content
News media often produce more news content than evergreen content, resulting in a short lifespan for their pieces.
Therefore, an SEO opportunity for news media is to take a timeless approach to content creation and attract a recurring traffic base. This can be achieved through hybrid content.
Hybrid content combines current and perennial information, allowing blog posts to be updated over time and positioned in Featured News.
This type of content addresses topics with a constant search volume and explores new formats such as:
- Interactive content pages
- Multiformat content
- Live interviews
Having a content creation and publication strategy that focuses on trending and evergreen topics is crucial, as it can significantly increase your chances of being featured in the Google Discover feed.
Create a link-building strategy
Link building is a critical component of SEO for news media, playing a major role in building trust with Google and increasing domain authority.
This strategy aims to create backlinks, or external links that enhance visibility and drive traffic to your website from various sources.
In line with the previous tip, to boost your authority and spread your content to a wider audience, your link-building strategy should involve creating hybrid content. In other words:
- Cover timely topics
- Dive deeply into evergreen content
Invite your users to follow you
In some countries, the Google Discover app allows users to determine which brands and content topics to follow.
This option is available in countries like the United States, New Zealand, the UK, Canada, and Australia on Android devices.
But even if this feature is available in your country, keep in mind your current audience may not follow you in Google Discover yet. Hence, it’s important that you actively promote your blog and encourage them to add it to their Google Discover feed.
This way, Google will notify them every time the app chooses new content from your blog. It doesn’t have to be a new blog entry, but any quality content that is relevant to users’ queries and meets Google’s content publishing policy.
Research your competitors
Have you tried everything above and still haven’t ranked in Google Discover? Assess the competition to gain insights. Conduct a competitive analysis by observing:
- What they are doing differently than you
- Why their contents stand out
- Does my website meet all the technical and content requirements to be competitive?
This way, you can analyze your own content marketing strategy and:
- See if you need to change the way you’re generating content
- Extract content ideas from the competition that can help you improve and position in Discover.
Additionally, you can check which relevant topics are trending within Google and generate or update content about them.
The information you collect will:
- Provide valuable insights into user behavior
- Let you know what it takes to have your content chosen by Google Discover.
Look for social media interaction
Discover loves engagement. Just like with organic SEO, Discover is likely to select and promote content that attracts comments and shares on social media.
So, if you produce content that’s likely to be shared and interacted with on social media, you will be benefiting both channels. In other words: if your content goes viral on social media, Google may promote it on Discover. And the same happens the other way around: if you have interesting content on Discover, it may start to rank better on social media. The order of events doesn’t really matter.
Discover works best alongside these social media platforms:
Take advantage of it to promote your content and accumulate a new army of followers.
Focus on Your Content and Let SEORadar Handle Technical SEO
In summary, today we’ve explored Google Discover as a valuable source of organic traffic and strategies to optimize your content for this platform.
And, as you probably can guess from all we saw, managing your content to make it rank and appear in the Google Discover feed is not a one-day job. For a website to get traffic, technical SEO is as essential as having good content.
This is where SEORadar can help.
SEORadar is a technical SEO monitoring tool that tracks your code and helps you prevent SEO emergencies. This way, you don’t waste time on technicalities and can focus on what matters to you: generating a multi-front content strategy.