Google Discover is not something new. It has been around for about four years now, however, for many SEOs, it’s been an untapped resource. Those that have been paying more attention are starting to see the real benefits, in some cases driving more traffic than from organic.
Of course, Google Discover is not for every business. Google Discover is for articles only. There is no e-commerce aspect to it, so if you’re not writing articles – whether that’s news or blogs – you are not going to get “discovered”. If you are looking for new ways to drive organic traffic to your website and you’re not writing content right now, Google Discover could be the exact opportunity you are looking for.
What is Google Discover?
For those that are not sure about what Google Discover is, here’s a quick rundown. When you open the Google app on either Android or iOS, you will not only get the Google search bar but you will also be served a bunch of news articles underneath the search bar.
These articles are heavily personalised and based on the interests you indicated when you set up the Google app and then adjusted based on your search habits over time. If you engage with articles on a particular topic, for example, it is likely you will be served more of these over time.
Apple has a similar feature called Apple News, however, this is less measurable for SEOs. Google Discover data can be extracted from Google Search Console (GSC) where you can find out about impressions and clicks on articles that have been featured in Google Discover.
As we have already mentioned, there are no e-commerce results in Google Discover. No SERP features. Just a bunch of articles personalised to your interests. What’s not to like about that?
How do you get featured in Google Discover?
Knowing how valuable it can be to feature in Google Discover, there are some things you should be doing to give yourself a better chance of ranking, however, these are no different to the things you should be doing to appear in Google search.
Google Discover is also different to Google News. You don’t need to be an established news publisher to feature in Google Discover, however, there are a few things you should be paying attention to if you want to maximise your opportunity to rank in Google Discover. Here are some of the things to focus on:
All sites should be using schema markup to give maximum visibility in the search engine results. For those that don’t know, schema markup is additional code that is used to provide more clear information to search engines about the nature of your content. There are hundreds of types of schema markup and it’s important to use the ones that are relevant to the content on your pages.
For Google Discover, the key schema markup that you will need is article or news schema. Given that we have already discussed that Google Discover focuses on serving personalised articles, this makes complete sense.
If you have a blog or news section and you are not using schema markup, this is the first step you should take towards getting your content discovered.
One thing that Google Discover seems to do is deliver content that is based around very clear topics. For me, I read a lot of articles about golf. This can be anything from the latest club reviews to tips to improve my game and Google Discover doesn’t seem to care too much about the type of article I read – just that I am interested in golf – so I get served more golf content from a wide range of sources that are very clearly focussed on golf.
We have clients that do very well in Google Discover and they too have a very clear focus in their blogs. Whether this is travel in New Zealand or biometrics, we keep the content in their blogs very focussed and this helps with discovery as Google will find lots of other related articles in the blog when they crawl the site.
Using topics (sometimes called categories) or tags in your blog can help to curate all your content on a particular topic into one place so this could be helpful, especially if you write about a variety of topics on your blog. Typically, we might recommend no-indexing your tag pages and this will be the case if you have lots of tags, however, category pages can be different, especially if these are focussed on a handful of topics that are highly relevant.
Try to be very clear with the categories you set up and consider the topics you would want to be discovered for in Google Discover.
One thing I have definitely noticed about articles that appear in my own Google Discover is that I see a lot of AMP pages. This is definitely not a requirement, however, it does go a long way in indicating that page speed is a factor in whether or not your content is featured in Google Discover.
We manage a number of sites that do not have AMP and they still feature, however, those sites and the specific pages, in particular, are the ones that have fast loading pages and excellent scores in Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
If you want to get your content featured in Google Discover, we highly recommend that you focus on page speed, ideally across your entire site, but if not, definitely on the content pages you are hoping to get discovered.
We know how important title tags are when it comes to organic performance and Google Discover seems to be no different. The titles you optimise for Google Discover, however, are not your title tags or even the open graph tags that are used for social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The headline copy is taken from the schema markup and has a character count limit of 110. Many sites simply pull the title tag from the page into the headline setting within the schema markup, however, you can (and possibly should) be optimising this specifically for Google Discover. Of course, it won’t differ too much from your title tag, however, it does allow you to be a little more creative and make it more “clickable”.
It seems like CTR is important when it comes to getting featured in Google Discover so creating headlines that are click-worthy is a great way to drive more clicks. Of course, your content has got to deliver once people click through so don’t pick click-bait style headlines if your content does not deliver on the promise made in the headline.
Images are also an important element of improving the CTR and whilst articles with smaller images do get featured, you should include images that are at least 1,200px in your schema markup if you want to maximise the opportunity.
Measuring your Google Discover Traffic
One of the biggest problems when it comes to measuring the impact of your content appearing in Google Discover is the inconsistent way traffic from Google Discover is reported.
In a recent Whiteboard Friday, Tom Capper, Head of the Search Science team at Moz, reported that his experience of measuring Google Discover traffic in Google Analytics was very inconsistent. According to Capper, Discover traffic was blended in with other organic data, with a further 15-20% reported as direct and maybe 2-3% reported as Google API referral. This blending of data obviously makes it very difficult to report on.
We mentioned at the start of the post that you can use Google Search Console to report on performance metrics in Google Discover and whilst this is true, as we all know, GSC data is not that reliable and whilst it will give you an indication, it should never be relied upon as the most accurate data.
It will, however, provide you with an indication of how your content is performing and will show you the content pages that are appearing in Google Discover which can then help to inform your future strategies if you see a pattern when it comes to the type of content that is appearing.
If you are already creating content in a blog or news section of your website, it’s an absolute no brainer to optimise that content for Google Discover as well. Following a few simple guidelines, you should be able to get your content surfaced in Google Discover, as long as you are focussed on creating high-quality content that adds value to your visitors. Google Discover can become an important part of your SEO strategy, helping you to drive more organic traffic and gain more brand exposure.
If you are looking for opportunities to drive more traffic to your website, speak to the team at Digital Hothouse today and we would be more than happy to talk to you about the opportunities you might be missing out on.