SEO News Published: 18 April 2024 Update: 18 April 2024

Google Discover optimization: A complete guide

SEO news
Google Discover optimization: A complete guide

Google Discover is an especially important source of organic traffic for publishers. This personalized feed, available within Google’s mobile app and mobile search homepage, offers users an engaging experience by recommending relevant content, even before they know exactly what they want to search for. 

Google Discover is one of the fastest-growing sources of traffic for news websites, with some publishers reporting Discover traffic as higher than organic search traffic. 

By tailoring your content to meet Google’s recommendations and user preferences, you can boost your website’s chances of enhancing its presence on the platform and growing your audience.

This article serves as a comprehensive guide to optimizing content for Google Discover – how the feature works, the importance of optimization and actionable strategies to improve the chances of your content being featured. 

What is Google Discover?

Google Discover is a personalized feed of content that appears on mobile devices. It displays news stories, videos and images tailored to each user’s interests and online behavior. 

This feature is meant to emulate the personalized feeds found on social networks. It is a proactive method of delivering fresh, relevant content directly to users based on personalized data collected by the platform. 

Just like the AI-powered recommendations served to users on a TikTok or Instagram Reels feed, Google Discover uses machine learning algorithms to analyze user data and determine which topics and the best types of content a user is likely to engage with. The platform then selects and displays content from various publishers and creators that align with these interests. 

Information used to create a user’s Discover feed includes their browsing history, location, search history, app usage and other data points. Users can customize their feed by selecting topics of interest or adjusting their preferences directly in Google Discover.

The diverse range of content displayed by Google Discover includes: 

  • News articles: Fresh, timely news stories from reputable sources. 
  • Video content from various platforms, most notably YouTube and YouTube Shorts, on subjects aligned with user interests.
  • Blog posts and articles: Evergreen or timely articles covering various topics in sectors like lifestyle, technology, travel and health.
  • Images and infographics that provide valuable information.
  • Product recommendations: Reviews and suggestions for products in categories such as tech, fashion and home goods.
  • Paid Discovery ads also appear throughout user feeds as they scroll. 

Ultimately, a user’s Google Discover feed reflects their interests and historical activity, with a heavier emphasis on entertainment, sports, hobbies and activities.

Users can directly shape their feed by following or unfollowing specific topics, adjusting their preferences with “show more” or “show less” options and opting to hide content from specific publishers.

Dig deeper: The rise of Google followership: Unlocking visibility on Google’s surfaces

Why optimize for Google Discover?

Optimizing your content for Google Discover can have a significant impact on your online presence and overall success. 

Increased visibility and traffic potential

  • Google Discover reaches millions of users daily, offering substantial visibility and exposure to a broader audience. 
  • Featuring your content can drive significant traffic to your website.

Enhanced user engagement and experience

  • Since content in Google Discover is personalized, it’s more likely to resonate with users, leading to higher engagement and meaningful interactions with your site. 
  • Plus, with the option to follow specific publications, it can lead to more loyal return visitors. 

Potential impact on branding and audience growth

  • Prominent placement on Google Discover enhances brand visibility and credibility. 
  • As users repeatedly encounter your content, you build trust, loyalty and a growing audience that can help expand your brand.

Optimizing content for Google Discover

To optimize your content for Google Discover, focus on producing high-quality, engaging content that aligns with your target audience’s interests.

The biggest shift in thinking between traditional search engine optimization and optimizing for Google Discover involves moving from targeting queries to focusing on user interests.

Google Discover emphasizes providing content that matches users’ interests without necessarily being provided their explicit search query or intent. Here are some tips for optimizing your content.

Focus on quality and relevance

Tailor your content to match the interests and preferences of your target audience, using historical data to refine your strategy. Analyze user behavior and trends to understand what topics resonate the most.

Your content should be up-to-date and relevant, and it should also capture users’ attention. Aim to provide valuable insights, solve problems or entertain your audience.

Create helpful, reliable, people-first content

Google’s Discover guidelines explicitly define the type of content likeliest to appear in users’ Discover feeds. Helpful, reliable, people-first content refers to pages “primarily created to benefit people, not to gain search engine rankings,” and will follow E-E-A-T principles.

When self-assessing your content, some questions Google recommends asking include:

  • Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
  • Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?

Dig deeper: Writing people-first content: A process and template

Optimize headlines

Write compelling headlines that entice users to click and explore your content further.

Use intriguing language, numbers/statistics or pose questions to capture users’ interest. Avoid clickbait, as this goes against Google Discover guidelines

Incorporate visual elements and follow image guidelines

Include visually appealing media to enhance the presentation of your content. High-resolution images and engaging videos can significantly increase user engagement and retention and are very important for appearing within Discover’s card-based UI. 

Large images at least 1,200 pixels wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting are more likely to generate visits from Discover. Avoid using a site logo as your image.

Dig deeper: Advanced image SEO: A secret manual

Balance evergreen and timely content

Evergreen content offers long-lasting relevance and can remain valuable over time if refreshed regularly.

However, with its algorithmically powered feed, Discover tends to favor up-to-date news stories, trends and event-related pieces that tap into current events and popular topics. 

Showcase expertise and build on topical authority

Demonstrate your knowledge and authority in your field and stand out on Google Discover by providing in-depth analysis beyond surface-level information to encompass expert commentary. 

Offer an original perspective or research that differentiates your content from others and establish credibility by showcasing your credentials, experience or industry affiliations.

Dig deeper: Authority management: A new discipline in the era of SGE and E-E-A-T

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Technical optimizations for Google Discover

To maximize your chances of appearing in Google Discover, don’t forget to pay close attention to technical SEO aspects that can enhance your visibility and performance. Here are some key strategies to consider:

Implement structured data

Utilize schema markup to provide additional context and information about your content. Structured data types such as Article, NewsArticle, VideoObject and Breadcrumb can help Google better understand your content and demonstrate your topical authority.

Follow Google’s guidelines for structured data implementation to ensure your markup is correctly formatted, and use schema testing tools to validate your markup and fix any errors.

Optimize for mobile users

Since Google Discover is still mostly exclusive to mobile devices, optimizing your content and website for mobile browsing is essential.

A responsive website design is best practice for providing a seamless experience across different devices, especially mobile, which encompasses the majority of web traffic. Optimize images, code and resources to reduce loading times and ensure your site performs well on mobile devices.

Design your content with mobile users in mind. Use clear headings, bullet points and concise paragraphs for easier readability on smaller screens and prioritize user experience with intuitive navigation and layout.

Dig deeper: SEO and website design: How to build search engine-friendly sites

Improve page load speed

Large image files can slow down your page load speed. To improve performance, optimize images by compressing them while maintaining quality and using modern image formats such as WebP.

Additionally, conduct regular website audits to identify and resolve performance issues. Check for outdated plugins, unnecessary scripts or other elements that might hinder your site’s speed and efficiency.

Measuring performance and analytics

The most effective way to monitor your Google Discover traffic is by using Google Search Console (GSC). Within the Search Console, you can view the daily traffic your website receives from Google Discover and compare it with the traffic generated from Google Search.

You can also use GSC to:

  • Access the Discover performance report: In Google Search Console, navigate to the Discover performance report to review how your content is performing on Google Discover. Here, you can group, filter and compare your data as you see fit. Keep in mind that your property must receive a minimum number of impressions in Discover to appear.
  • Monitor key metrics: Review metrics such as clicks, impressions, average click-through rate (CTR) and the content types driving the most engagement.
  • Track traffic trends: Observe traffic fluctuations over time to see how your content performs in Discover and identify patterns of interest.

Ensure your data is actionable by identifying which types of content, topics or formats perform best on Google Discover and leverage that insight to shape your future content strategy.

Analyze your data regularly for recurring patterns and seasonal trends that can inform your content calendar and publishing schedule.

Assess audience behavior by evaluating how users interact with your content, such as which articles receive the most engagement on Discover, to refine your approach and provide more relevant material.

Leveraging Google Discover for brand visibility

Google Discover presents an invaluable avenue for publishers and creators to amplify their reach. 

Through thoughtful optimization and an emphasis on creating engaging and relevant content, you can capture the attention of an expanding user base. 

Staying ahead of trends, adhering to Discover’s guidelines and maintaining a strong focus on user experience will position your content for success. 

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Flavius Trica Creatif Agency Flavius Trica

Web designer and Co-Founder of Creatif.Agency, with more than 8 years in the design industry and a strong passion for digital art, has successfully managed to deliver one of the most creative web design agencies in San Francisco, California. Valuing quality, creativity, and customer satisfaction, always strive to improve!

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