With the dawn of Google Discover (previously Google Feed), the popular search engine no longer needs users to type in a search query in order to show them content.
This new form of content feed – available on mobile only – takes learned information about a user and shows results based on that data, without them ever having to even think of a search query. It’s an exciting option for both users and content creators, and today we’ll take a look at Google Discover in more detail, and how you can show up in the feed.
What is Google Discover and How Does it Work?
When you open a browser on your mobile device (either Android and Apple), log in to your Google account, and navigate to the Google homepage, you will be presented with a selection of articles that the search engine thinks will be of interest to you. These results are based on your search activity, app activity, location history, location settings, and selected preferences. The more Google can learn from your activity, the more content it can show you.
As the name suggests, the feed mainly focuses on discovery, so much of the served content is newly published or updated, with some evergreen content also showing up at times. It aims to make it easier for users to delve deeper into their personal interests, finding highly relevant content that will keep them engaged.
Another feature of Google Discover is the visual aspect. While Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) have, in recent years, been presenting more visually appealing content such as product images and videos, Google Discover focuses much more on this side of things. Images and video play a big part in the feed, and Web Stories have recently been added as an extra element.
Discover learns quickly, too, so your changing activity is continuously catered for. If you usually enjoy searching for the most recent film news, chances are that you’ll see a lot of related information in your feed. However, if you’re planning a holiday and for a week or two are doing your research on luxury hotels in the Bahamas, the you’ll see a switch in the content shown to you.
An additional interesting feature is that Google even considers your expertise in a topic. My Google Discover feed, for example, may show articles about more advanced search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques, because I have a lot of experience and knowledge of the topic already. If, on the other hand, you’re a small business owner who dips into SEO now and again, but only has a basic understanding of the topic, you’ll probably see articles about SEO basics, and easily-actionable tips.
Whatever you see in the feed, you have the option to follow or unfollow topic and to see more or less of certain brands, depending on how they interest. Google also remembers your preferences in terms of stores and restaurants, while still serving you new content.
How to Appear in Google Discover
Like with many new features, posts in Google Discover overall see higher click-through rates than organic searches. Although impressions are measured differently, so the figures can’t be compared directly, it still gives a good indication that optimising for the newer feed is worth your time. So how do you do it?
Fortunately, many of the usual SEO best-practices are relevant here, so if you have a well optimised site, you have a good chance of doing well in Discover. However, it’s important to understand that, for Discover, your focus should be on understanding the individual user, rather than understanding a single search query. Search intent is important on a much more personal level, so it helps to really know your customers and ideal audience. Remember, what one person sees is completely different to what another person sees.
To really do well in Discover, drill down into your content, making it highly specific and relevant to a small audience.
Write a Blog
News sites receive most clicks on Discover, possibly because their content is shown to a broader audience because Google wants everyone to have access to the same news information. After that, blog content on specific interests and hobbies sees the most traffic.
So, if it suits your SEO strategy, niche, and resource availability, set up a highly relevant blog on your site. If you’ve already got one, keep creating strong content regularly.
Read my 4 Vital SEO Tips for Your Blog Content to get started.
When it comes to creating blog posts, target those who are most passionate about your subject. Remember that Discover is about specific interests, not a broad audience. A blog such as 10 Rock Climbing Routes in Cumbria if You Love a Challenging Overhang is likely to do better in Discover than one entitled 10 Rock Climbing Routes in Cumbria.
Schedule Publication Dates Cleverly
As we’ve already discussed, Discover content is generally time-sensitive, so publishing content that fits in with trending topics, relevant events, or news can help you find your place in the feed.
Are there big (or small) events that are relevant to your industry that you could connect a post to? Do you keep an eye on industry news so that you can jump on any big topics? You can even utilise Google Trends to see what’s currently popular in your niche.
Alternatively, evergreen content is content that stays relevant no matter how old it is. That doesn’t mean that you can write it and then leave it forever, though. Keep updating the same post on a semi-regular basis to make sure all the content remains up-to-date and you’ll have more chance of showing up, even though it’s not a brand new post.
Create Good Content
It doesn’t matter how regular and up-to-the-minute your posts are, if they’re uninteresting, too short, or badly written, then they won’t show up anywhere. Keep in mind that Discover content aims to engage users and help them find out more information about their interests, so you want to think about this when creating content. Can you offer some new knowledge? Where does your expertise lie and what can you bring to the table? Have you spell-checked and sense-checked your piece?
The aim is to provide something better than anything else already out there (or that will be out there in the future). Digging down into really niche topics is a great way to create unique and interesting content – even if you don’t reach as many people that way, you’re more likely to come out on top, gain interest from a highly engaged audience, and ultimately make sales.
Use and Optimise Visual Elements
Google Discover is heavily focused on an attractive look with plenty of visuals in the feed. People swipe through the content fairly quickly, so you want to catch their eye and encourage them to click. Images should be optimised and be at least 1,200px wide, with the max-image-preview:large setting utilised.
Consider creating videos to share your content and tell a story. Again, they should be of a good quality and engaging.
One visual element that is less commonly utilised – and therefore offers a lot of opportunity – is Web Stories. This is another Google product and is their own take on social media stories. They present your topic in bite-sized chunks of visual content that are easy to digest and visually pleasing.
Optimise for Mobile
As Google Discover is only available on mobile, it really goes without saying that your website should be fully mobile optimised. Make sure your site loads quickly on a mobile device, elements are all well-spaced and tappable, and the site presents an overall positive user experience. Read some of my tips for mobile optimisation.
Analyse, Test and Improve
Once you’ve implemented your Discover SEO strategy, you need to make sure that it’s working. Google Search Console has a dedicated report (you will need enough website traffic to be able to view this) to help you analyse your results. It will help you identify popular pages, spikes in traffic, and overall trends.
By keeping an eye on your results, you can identify well-performing content and user behaviour that will help you continue to create great posts that your users want to read.
Google Discover has already seen some very positive results in terms of click-throughs and user engagement, and it can provide a boost in traffic to your website if you show up successfully. Good SEO practices that are relevant across the board are helpful here, but a focus on individual users and small audience sizes, rather than search queries, are the key to doing well.