Digital marketers know that they must stay one step ahead of the rest in understanding Google algorithms, core updates, and new features to succeed in this highly competitive industry.
To best serve your clients or your business, you need to know how every single aspect of the search engine crawler operates, how it indexes information, and how it serves it back to the user.
While most of your SEO efforts are typically spent researching keywords, building high-quality backlinks, and creating E.A.T. (Expert, Authoritative, Trusted) content, there is an entirely new approach on the horizon that you need to take note of.
Google Discover has changed the game from query-driven search results to overall user prediction and serving up content to individual users before entering a question to search.
“How does Discover on Google work?” you may be asking right about now?
Let’s dive in and find out:
- What is Google Discover?
- How does Google Discover work?
- Why should you care about Google Discover?
- How to get on Google Discover?
- How to optimize for Google Discover?
What is Google Discover?
If you’re asking: “What is Google Discover, and how is it different from Search?” you’re on the right page. Read on, and we will share as much info as is needed for you to be ‘Discovered.’
Google’s Discover feed is a mobile feature for smartphones and tablets that narrows down individual user’s potential interests using intriguing artificial intelligence algorithms. It then offers relevant, highly personalised, and ‘fresh’ content to them at the top of their feed that could potentially be what they’re looking for.
As a highly personalized feed, Discover actively tunes itself to a user’s interests and displays content that aligns with those interests. The content in Discover is automatically refreshed as new content is published, however Discover is designed to show all types of helpful content from across the web, not just newly published content.
—Google Search Central.
The exciting—albeit nerve-wracking—thing about the Google Discover feed is that it is not keyword-driven and thus leaves marketers with a new set of tricks and know-how to master.
As a feature, Google Discover has been around since 2018 and was previously known as Google Feed. It essentially resembles social media feeds where the user’s preferred interest is brought to the top of their screen in blocks providing exciting content relating to:
- Live sports results
- YouTube videos
Although the Google Discover feed is not a new feature on our mobile SEO landscape, it does mark a critical new approach to search engine optimization eloquently dubbed ‘the query-less search era.’
It is pivotal for marketers to fully comprehend how Google Discover works to yield optimal results and ensure your clients land here organically.
One can only imagine that with Google’s AI (more about this further down) playing a more prominent role in search engine efficiency daily, this will soon become your new normal as they aim to make each user’s online journey as hassle-free, relevant, and trustworthy as possible.
How does Google Discover Work?
Discover on Google is not keyword-driven; thus, the origin can’t be pinpointed, reverse-engineered, and used to create a path back to your user’s screen via your typical SEO best practices.
Google’s automated systems (AI) show users content related to their search history that they might find relevant and exciting. It’s done with the end-user in mind—to quickly provide them with accurate and relevant content according to their interests.
With Search, users enter a search term to find helpful information related to their query, but Discover takes a different approach. Instead of showing results in response to a query, Discover surfaces content primarily based on what Google’s automated systems believe to be a good match with a user’s interests.
—Google Search Central.
It’s safe to say that you need a good understanding of Google’s AI (automated systems) to analyse and put to good use the knowledge gained to let your client’s—or your own—content feature in Discover. It’s also imperative for marketers to understand their client’s customer profiles. Only by using these two knowledge sets in unison will you succeed in landing on the perfect Discover feed.
What is Google AI?
Although we are convinced that you already understand the principles of how AI is used in search engines, we’d like to give a short background summary for our newcomers to the industry.
Since Google rolled out RankBrain back in 2015, deep learning systems have improved dramatically and now influence every sphere of a user’s online journey. Google is at the forefront of ‘building responsible AI for everybody.’ They offer open-source platforms, like TensorFlow, on which you can learn and contribute as their machine learning progresses. It is an excellent and collaborative way to stay informed and educated on new developments that directly influence your work as a digital marketer.
We believe that these technologies will promote innovation and further our mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
How is AI used in Discover on Google?
Google’s AI consists of deep neural networks. It’s a massive network that includes hardware and software that replicates the complex web of neurons of the human brain. These neural nets can automatically learn various tasks while analysing the large amount of data provided to them (in this case, a user’s search history on Google.)
Every time you browse Google, the automated systems build a database of your movements – where you click a button, where you spend time on a page, what you watch on YouTube, and what you buy online. Your activity on Google leaves a trail that teaches the machines who you are and what you enjoy. Based on this data accumulation, it can now predict what you might enjoy reading, watching, or following—and this is what Discover on Google serves you.
Imagine your brain could remember every detail you have ever seen or heard since birth and can use it to analyse, adapt and respond to daily problems? Imagine you could use this same information from millions of people and separate what’s true from what’s not. That is AI in a nutshell.
Now, it is up to you to ensure your work for your clients, or your site includes your best efforts to incorporate a solid understanding of Google’s AI to get results on Discover.
Why should you care about Google Discover?
It’s a mobile-specific feature. Why should that make you sit up and take notice?
Well, to start with:
- Google has announced recently that Chrome’s mobile browser has surpassed ONE BILLION active users per month.
- These active Android and IOS users cumulatively load 771 billion pages per month.
- Autocomplete (Google’s predictive software for search) saves users from typing 500 billion characters per month (no wonder predictive software is Google’s focus for Discover too).
- Google users can set up their Discover feed. So, suppose you’re consistently publishing relevant and trustworthy industry content. In that case, your followers can add you to their automatic Discover updates, which in turn can add a nice chunk of organic traffic while increasing your CTR on analytics.
- It is a great way to build online brand authority.
As a marketer, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you see your pages featured at the top of the Discover feed—knowing you’ve nailed the machine learning algorithms by publishing great content that is optimized for speed and accuracy.
Page performance on Discover is also measurable via Search Console’s Discover Report, and it tracks and reports:
- How often a site is shown in the user’s Discover and the amount of traffic.
- The website’s best performing content in Discover.
- How the website’s content performs differently in Discover compared to traditional search results.
So, even though the report previously measured mostly your Discover traffic, it now includes vital data from Chrome browsers. It allows you insight into new origin referrer data crucial to your analytics and measurement capabilities. Since February 2021, Google started with a small percentage of traffic and rolled out gradually.
Discover traffic from Chrome will be using a new origin referrer https://www.google.com/ so it is consistent with what’s used for Discover on the Google app. This will replace the previous www.googleapis.com/auth/chrome-content-suggestions referrer.
How to succeed on Google Discover?
Understanding how Google’s automated systems choose what to show users will help you develop clear strategies to land on your target audience’s screens.
The basic principles to ensure you’re eligible to appear in Google Discover is to make sure your content is indexed and that it complies with its content policies. You don’t need specific structured data or special tags.
Just keep in mind that meeting these requirements are in no way a guarantee that you will be featured in Discover. Instead, you can look at it as the pillars of HOW to be found by Discover crawlers, with the strategies we discuss next as your KPIs for being featured there.
Let’s break down the individual strategies you can apply to increase the probability of landing your pages on the Discover feed.
How to get on Google Discover: strategies
PRO TIP: Ensure you follow E-A-T principles and guidelines in ALL content creation to build authority as a publisher. It is increasingly permeating into every aspect of how Google (and other leading SERPs) evaluate where you’ll rank or if you’ll feature on Discover. Their machines will outsmart even your cleverest click-bait attempt, and you’ll never see the top of a Discover or Search feed.
- Good quality content is critical to get the attention of Google’s automated systems searching for Discover-worthy articles, videos, and ads. They prefer websites that offer multiple high-quality pages that display E-A-T content. Here you can follow the same principles you do for Search content optimization as Google’s content requirements for Discover are very similar.
- I can imagine at this point you’re wondering to yourself: “What’s up with these MGWW bloggers for mentioning the same thing in every article?” Right? Our reason is simple: Topical Authority can best be described as the depth of expertise. Organisations covering a topic with the most depth (following the E-A-T principles) will own the future traffic flow for related queries.
- Discover favours engaging and relevant content, and it covers the whole spectrum of media such as videos, blogs, and pillar page articles. The more informative and relevant (time-sensitive) your content is, the more likely you will appear on Discover. Google focuses on quality when crawling for Discover content. You must make every single sentence count and offer the user accurate and unique insight into the topic.
- Make sure your titles are informative and that you answer the question raised in your title early on in your article. You can expand after you have responded to the question. Avoid clickbait and keyword stuffing. Also, ensure that your content is evergreen. You can do a quick scan of all your pages and update any time-stamped content to make it relevant again—only if it is still relevant!
- Respond to specific industry-related news on time while it’s still ‘hot off the press.’ Content creators are starting to fulfil the purpose of journalists more than marketers. If your copywriters understand how to react to news-worthy industry-related topics promptly— while answering the user’s potential questions with unique and accurate insight—you’ll be well on your way to featuring on somebody’s Discover feed.
- Tell your stories with good quality images and YouTube videos. Discover favours storytelling, and if you’re optimizing specifically for Discover, you can use more and larger images.
- Avoid sensation-driven tactics or misleading information in your titles, images, or snippets to lure readers to your content.
- Ensure your content hits the search intent (user intent) and provides valuable insight and answers on the topic.
- If you can say it in a video, do it! Discover is more about storytelling and engaging mediums. So, it will be a fruitful endeavour to transcript some of your would-be blogs into captivating video content.
In Google’s own words:
To deliver a good user experience, Discover seeks to present content that’s suitable for interest-based feeds, such as articles and videos, as well as filter out content that’s not desired or that might confuse readers. For example, Discover might not recommend job applications, petitions, forms, code repositories, or satirical content without any context.
What can you do from a technical perspective to optimize for Discover?
- Do a thorough competitor analysis of any of their Discover features regularly. You can gain valuable insight in an in-depth analysis of what they are doing to shine.
- Ensure that product pages are robust and accompanied by intelligent content and meta descriptions. +- 49% of clickthrough’s from Discover originates from product pages.
- Optimize your pages for mobile screens.
- Latch onto Google’s semantic organisation by tagging relevant niche ‘entities’ that complement your own.
- Optimize all your titles and ensure that it ‘captures the essence of the content in a non- clickbait fashion.’
- Optimize images and use only large, high-quality images that are at least 1,200 pixels wide. Also, ensure they’re set to the ‘max-image-preview: large setting,’ or you can use AMP. Your images should be compelling to generate visits from Discover. We know you’re proud of your brand and want to display your logo, but refrain from using it as an image in your articles or media.
- Furthermore, ensure your image has a well-described caption in the Alt text and an apt description of your image in the file name. Focus on lossless compression to speed up the image load time.
- Focus on optimizing for Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs). AMP is a very effective tool for enhancing your site’s UX (user experience), which is a significant ranking factor (especially after the latest Core Web Vitals update.
So, in a nutshell:
Discover Do’s and Don’ts
|Discover Do’s||Discover Don’ts|
|Comply with Discover’s content policies: Aka E-A-T
Create concise Titles that give an honest description of the content to follow.
Use large images: 1,200 px wide
Optimize all images for speed
Keep your content evergreen
Stay ahead of the news and publish timely content
Publish more video content
|Avoid thin content
Avoid ‘clickbait’ titles
Don’t use your logo as the primary image
Avoid sensation-driven tactics in your titles, snippets, or images.
Ready to be discovered?
We trust you’ve realised the value of optimizing for Google’s Discover. It’s aligned with what should be your overall approach to content currently and beyond: quality, quality, and quality.
We understand that you want to spend your time building your core business and not necessarily spend days or weeks making sure you stay up to date with what Google wants. We have a global team of experts who thrive on making your business a recognized and trusted brand.
Contact us, and one of our senior team members will gladly chat with you and find solutions for optimizing for Google Discover and getting your website discovered.
Author: Estelle Slabbert