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Google Discover — a highly potent platform for driving qualified website traffic — is not yet leveraged by most marketers today. So it’s a relatively untapped opportunity for your business to grow and retain a bigger, more engaged audience by publishing relevant and optimised content.

If you need help with optimising for Google Discover get in touch with our SEO agency. We offer multiple SEO services including optimisation for Google Discover.

In this post, you’ll learn what Google Discover is and why it’s worth your time. We’ll also discuss seven actionable ways to optimise your content for a better chance of showing up on Discover.

What is Google Discover and Why Should You Bother?

Google Discover mobile

Discover is essentially Google’s take on a personalised mobile feed. You’ll find content and news that’s relevant to your interests and location. It could be topics such as search engine optimization, federal elections in Australia, sports in Melbourne, etc.

Discover is a user-centric melting pot of content that provides easy access to topics you’re likely to find engaging without having to search. The platform brings up content based on what Google’s automated systems believe to be a good match with a user’s interests, which in turn is based on past search activity and history.

With well over 800 million monthly active users, Discover is an excellent source of traffic for many websites, especially news and media outlets. And with Google Search Console adding a dedicated report for site performance in the Discover feed, brands can now understand what content is working best to drive Discover traffic. The new report in GSC helps answer questions like:

  • How often is your site shown in users’ Discover feed?
  • What’s the traffic volume?
  • Which pieces of content are doing well in Discover?
  • How does your content perform differently in Discover compared to the usual organic search results?

This way, you can update your existing content strategy, optimise it to make it more relevant and engaging for your audience, and ultimately drive even more traffic from both Discover and conventional search.

Google Discover vs. Google News

Launched way back in 2002, Google News is a news aggregator service that provides comprehensive, up-to-date news coverage, aggregated from online news publications around the world. It includes coverage on top stories (local and global) and weather updates.

Google Discover, on the other hand, rolled out in late 2017 (then known as “Feed”) and then updated in 2018 to add cards, along with the ability to follow specific topics. Discover also offers more visual content including videos, as well as evergreen content. It is more customizable based on user preferences and isn’t limited to news or trends-based content.

Customize feed and interests on Google Discover

So the Discover content is curated automatically using other user behaviours across Google to determine what the user might find interesting. Plus, users have the ability to share their interests and follow topics and brands in order to get a more engaging and relevant feed.

7 Ways to Optimise Your Content and Rank on Google Discover

Now let’s see how you can optimise your website for Google Discover. As with all things SEO, you can’t guarantee if your content will rank on Discover, even if you follow all the guidelines outlined below. Still, following these tactics will ensure you stand the best chance to do so.

Also — and as you’d probably expect — many of the conventional SEO best practices are in line with Google Discover optimisation. Note that your content must adhere to Google’s content policies to be eligible to appear in Discover. No special tags or structured data are required.

Without further ado, here are seven actionable ways to optimise your content for Google Discover.

#1 – Ensure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly

Google Discover is a mobile-only feed, and so the first thing you need to do is ensure your site’s mobile experience is impeccable.

At the very least, your website needs to be responsive (i.e. your content adjusts automatically to the screen size) and fast-loading with limited or ideally no ads, pop-ups, or intrusive interstitials.

Also, thanks to Google’s mobile-first indexing, the mobile — not the desktop — version of your website is the benchmark for how Google indexes and ranks your site.

Thus, your website’s mobile-friendliness is a deciding factor for both Discover and overall SEO rankings.

Mobile design best practices to make your website more mobile-friendly:

  • Optimise the content layout for single-handed use: 75% of users touch the screen only with one thumb, and 10% of users hold their phone in one hand and tap with a finger of the other hand. So, put primary interactions in the front and easy-to-reach areas of the screen, and less important ones at the edges.
  • Ditch the navbar: A navbar can take up a lot of precious real estate that could otherwise be used for showing important content. Consider opting for a hamburger menu that turns your space-hungry navbar into an expandable menu.
  • Avoid making the users type: Mobile-friendliness means minimal touch-screen typing. Have minimum possible form fields on the mobile version of your site, enable autofill wherever possible, and give the option to connect existing accounts (such as Facebook or Google) instead of asking users to sign up from scratch.
  • Say goodbye to popups: Popups on mobile can seriously hurt the user experience. Google may even penalise you for “intrusive interstitials” that make the content less accessible, so disable such popups without delay.

Also, be sure to avoid common mobile usability and SEO mistakes, such as:

  • Blocked JavaScript, CSS, and image files
  • Unplayable video content due to Flash
  • Font size too small
  • Touch elements too close to each other

You can check how mobile-friendly your website is with Google’s mobile-friendly test. Run your website through our free SEO audit tool to get many additional insights you can implement.

#2 – Focus on Having High-Quality Visuals

Pages with high-quality images and videos typically perform better — not just in Discover but overall search results. So if you focus on having more and better quality visuals embedded in your content, you stand a much greater chance of being picked up by Google Discover.

“Include compelling, high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover. Large images need to be at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting, or by using AMP. Avoid using a site logo as your image,” according to Google’s Discover guidelines.

Make sure to include a relevant caption and alt text to help visitors (and Google’s crawlers) understand the image or video’s meaning. You can also consider using the schema image property to provide more data to Google.

Moreover, you’ll often find YouTube videos in your Discover feed.

Videos are the most in-demand content format today. Cisco predicts videos will drive 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2022. This is fifteen times higher than what it was in 2017. It’s generally considered  that videos boost brand awareness. People also say that videos help them connect with brands more effectively especially on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Google understands this and Discover feed is one of the places where they promote video content.

If you embed them into your content, it could happen that the videos will show up in Discover on their own and eclipse the content itself.

That is, you may have some blog posts that only get a few hundred Discover clicks, but their embedded videos get thousands. So it’s a good idea to repurpose your best-performing or trend-based textual content in video format in order to potentially boost traffic from Discover.

Ideas for your video marketing strategy:

Understandably, creating quality videos consistently is trickier than putting out blog content. Here are a few low-investment, high-return ideas for your video marketing strategy:

  • Screencast tutorials and educational presentations.
  • Video success stories of happy customers.
  • Behind the curtains of your brand’s workings, such as an office tour or your employees in action.
  • DIY animated explainer videos.
  • Thought-leader or expert interviews.

Just keep in mind that video traffic doesn’t go to your website, but rather to YouTube (a Google-owned property).

#3 – Use Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

The need for speed on mobile is real. Mobile users won’t wait for your site to load and it doesn’t take long for them to bounce if your content doesn’t finish loading.

So it’s vital to minimise your content’s load times on mobile devices if you wish to boost your user retention and odds of ranking on Discover.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), is an open-source framework initially developed by Google. It’s designed to render lightning-fast user-first experiences on mobile devices. In essence, it enables you to build better mobile browsing experiences by simplifying the HTML code and following streamlined CSS rules.

While AMP itself isn’t a ranking factor, speed is a ranking factor for both mobile and desktop Google search.

Speed is a ranking factor for mobile search

In fact, for many mobile searches, Google shows AMP-powered content in a special slot above organic results. So, using AMP can be key to achieve not just a spot in Google Discover but also to boost your overall SEO.

Besides, in the Google Search Console, you’ll find there’s an option to compare AMP vs. non-AMP data. As Google Discover relies a lot on user’s preferences and data to continually improve the feed, comparing both reports can help you determine just how well your AMPed up pages are doing.

With clear documentation available (tutorials, templates, tools, etc.), setting up AMP is pretty straightforward. Especially if you’re using WordPress, getting that lightning bolt next to your mobile search listings is simply a matter of installing a plugin.

Note that Google recently stopped prioritising AMP for Top News and Stories. It is no longer required to get in Google’s coveted Top News carousel. But given how AMP pages load near-instantly, it still doesn’t hurt to have them for a better mobile experience.

#4 – Optimise Your Content’s Metadata

This tactic is geared towards not just showing up on Discover but also getting more click-throughs once you do.

Simply put, your content’s title and meta description should “capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion,” according to Google’s Discover guidelines.

Furthermore, “avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.”

Long story short, use your title and description to neatly summarize your content and encourage click-throughs. But, never clickbait or manipulate users to click by showing false information.

#5 – Publish Timely Content (But Don’t Ignore Evergreen Content)

To increase the likelihood of your content appearing in Discover, Google recommends “provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”

You’ve likely seen yourself how a good chunk of your Discover feed shows recently published content on news, trends, and current events, along with some how-to blog posts and listicles from brands.

What this means is that to rank on Discover, it makes sense to publish trends-based content. However, evergreen educational content shouldn’t be ignored. The latter can continue to show up long after you’ve hit “publish”.

For example, Ahrefs, the popular SEO tool, doesn’t write about trending topics and their blog is filled with evergreen how-to content. But they’re still getting tens of thousands of clicks from Discover each month.

Ahrefs blog Google Discover traffic

This is because Discover is a personalised feed. It provides you with content that’s new to you, not just new on the internet.

For instance, you’re about to start investing in cryptocurrencies — an activity that requires a ton of research. You’ll start seeing content in your Discover feed about investing tips, platform comparisons, and other beginner-friendly content that could have been published months ago.

Frequently updating your content can also improve your odds of showing up on Discover. Taking Ahrefs’ example again, one of their blog post’s first published in 2017 never received a Discover click until they refreshed and republished it.

Ahrefs republished content performance on Google Discover

#6 – Try to Get Your Business on Google’s Knowledge Graph

You can follow topics and brands on Google Discover to get a more personalised and relevant feed.

Manage interests on Google Discover
Follow topics and brands on Google Discover

So if you have already built an audience (in terms of repeat visitors and subscribers) for your blog, this feature means you can encourage them to follow your brand for notifications and content updates.

This way, when you publish a new post or when Discover selects content from your blog, your audience will get notified and you have an opportunity to boost traction with existing readers.

But your audience can only follow your business on Google Discover if you have a Knowledge Graph (the detailed company profile as shown in the H&M screenshot above). If you’ve already attained your branded Knowledge Graph, then you’re all set to let your audience know they can follow you on Google.

If not, you’ll first have to work to get your brand in the Knowledge Graph. While there’s no definitive process to get your Knowledge Graph, here are a few things you can do to improve your odds:

  • Earn as many mentions and backlinks as you can from major publications such as Forbes, TechCrunch, etc.
  • Use schema markup on your site. Tools like InLinks can help.
  • Have a complete Google My Business profile if you’re running a local physical business.
  • Create a wikidata.org entry.
  • Get a Wikipedia page.
  • Be consistent with your content.

So how does a Knowledge Graph help boost your visibility in Google Discover?

Besides allowing people to follow your brand, being in the Knowledge Graph gives a signal to the algorithm that your online presence is authoritative enough for Google to contextually promote your brand on Discover. It lets the algorithm better tie the interests associated with your brand. This may consequently show your content to people interested in those topics.

#7 – Analyse and Improve Upon Competitor Content

How exactly Google’s algorithm picks up content to display on Discover is still a big mystery.

If you follow all the Google Discover optimisation best practices described till now and still don’t realise fruitful results, it’s helpful to conduct competitor research to find out why their content is ranking on Google Discover.

Here are a few ways to look at your competitors’ content:

  • What are they doing differently within their posts?
  • Are their pages using AMP?
  • What type of content is ranking the most — enticing listicles, comprehensive how-tos, or trend-based content?
  • What is the content format — blog posts, infographics, or videos?

In essence, try and find patterns in competitor content that you can emulate and improve upon. Follow relevant topics and brands on Google Discover.

Let this research guide your content strategy and you’ll stand a much better chance of showing up in Google Discover.

#8 – Improve Your E-A-T

“Our automated systems surface content in Discover from sites that have many individual pages that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T),” as per the Google Search Central blog.

To improve your E-A-T, here are a few things to work on:

  • Provide accurate and up-to-date information in your content. Try to have subject matter experts help with content creation.
  • Prove your authority with links and mentions from high-quality websites in your niche.
  • Establish credibility by providing clear dates, bylines, and information about the authors and the team behind your website. Build transparency with clear contact information, and showcase reviews, awards, testimonials, endorsements, etc. whenever possible.

Wrapping Up

Once you have your content on Discover, it’s a good idea to track your performance using the Performance report for Discover. It shows key metrics like impressions, clicks, and average CTR for all your content that appeared on Discover in the last 16 months (as long as your data crosses the minimum threshold of impressions).

While you don’t really need to separately prioritise Google Discover unless you’re a news or journalism website, working on the optimisation tips outlined above would be beneficial not just for Discover but also for your overall SEO and content marketing.

So go ahead and work on these best practices to boost your chances of showing up in Discover and reinforce your SEO efforts.

 

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