How to Optimize for Google Discover

Even if you have never heard of Google Discover, chances are, you have probably used it before. Google Discover is a mobile experience feature available on the Google Search app on smartphones and tablets.

Launched in 2017, Google Discover is a feed that tries to eliminate the need for searching by suggesting new content based on a user’s existing search history. Basically, web users are being profiled as Google uses their machine learning algorithms to keep suggesting content to keep people on their app.

The idea of a “queryless” search has been around for a while with social media platforms. Still, Google’s Discover feature has flipped traditional SEO on its head in some ways by forcing content creators to focus on quality instead of SEO techniques on their own.

Although content featured in Discover feeds usually see momentary traffic jumps, people who click on your content are more likely to have it recommended again, providing more conversion opportunities.

how to optimize for google discover

As such, if you run a website, you should be optimizing your content for Google Discover to give yourself the best chance of reaching the widest possible audience. Below we look at how you can optimize your content and website for this feature in five steps.

1.      Get Yourself a Google Knowledge Graph Entity

If you want to appear in Google Discover results, you need to get your business, product, etc., in Google’s Knowledge Graph. This may seem like an arduous task, but you can start the process by listing your business on Google My Business.

Google will need to verify your listing with a verification code that will be mailed to you before your listing appears online. Once you have been approved, you should see a knowledge panel you can edit when you search your business. You can add links to your website and social media profiles, among other things, to the panel.

Essentially, you need Google to recognize your business or product as an entity. Without a Knowledge Graph, you are never going to appear on the Discover feed. The Knowledge Graph itself will add authority to your website.

2.      Focus on Making the Best Content You Can

Webmasters have identified two types of content that get regularly recommended on the Discover:

  • Continually updated evergreen pieces
  • News (this is not limited to current affairs – it could be news in any industry)

Content can also be in any format, including an article, video, or one of Google’s widgets. Examples of Google’s widgets include the worldwide COVID-19 case counter (if you’re into daily trauma), sports scores, and election counters.

how to get featured on google discover

Surprisingly, age isn’t always a factor in what appears on Discover. Articles as old as three or four years have appeared in feeds as the content still met some web searchers’ needs.

The common denominator among the content featured on Google Discover is that it focuses on meeting user intent. The content exists for more reasons than to act as a click farm for ad revenue.

This is where some SEO webmasters need to adjust their content strategy. While you could get your work to rank by simply writing out a non-sensical long-tail keyword as your title on SERPs, this isn’t going to work with Discover. (Also, this isn’t just a random example; writing an engaging title is extremely important for getting featured.)

So, we cannot stress enough; you need to create content for users and not for robots if you want to see your work featured in Discover feeds. Theoretically, you should even see better results on SERPs, too.

If you would like to find out how to write better SEO content, we have covered this topic several times before. (We recommend checking our advice black hat SEO techniques you need to drop from your writing portfolio).

3.      Make Sure Your Site is Technically Sound

Many webmasters are tired of hearing this, but if your website doesn’t run well on mobile, it’s like it doesn’t exist. Google has been moving to a mobile-focused search approach for many years now. So, if your site takes 10 seconds to load on a smartphone or tablet, you will not feature in a Discover feed – most likely because your bounce rate is terrible.

google discover mobile

Studies have shown that images are also vital in getting featured on the Discover feed. It goes without saying you need to use striking images that make people want to click on your stuff. But you also need to focus on hitting all the marks concerning image compression, image name, alt text, and caption.

All-in-all, you need to make sure that your website runs well and doesn’t have factors inhibiting user experience. However, this is true of optimizing for SERPs as well.

4.      Structured Data is a Must

If you aren’t using structured data in your content already, you need to start using it now. While using schema is not a hard requirement to be featured in Google Discover feeds, it helps tell Google what your content is about. That in itself is already an SEO hack that should improve your rankings.

Using schema effectively to improve your traffic is another topic we have covered. So, if you are looking for more information on how structured data works, we recommend checking our dedicated guide.

5.      Use Google Web Stories

Practically, every application seems to have a “Stories” feature nowadays (even Microsoft Visual Studio.) Google launched its Web Stories WordPress plugin in 2020 to give searching the web a greater visual appeal.

If you’re on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or YouTube, then you’ve probably seen how Stories work. The small snippets of content are easily digestible and are more likely to garner clicks. By creating stories with your content, you also increase your chances of being featured in Google’s Discover feed.

google web stories

Is Appearing on Google Discover Worth It?

Getting your site featured on Google Discover is difficult, just as it ranks first for a high-volume search term. However, if you are featured on a Discover feed, you will likely see a big boost in traffic.

As mentioned above, the traffic you get from Discover feeds is not steady. You’ll see high numbers of visitors for a two to three-day period, and then it will drop afterward. It’s not the stable growth we’re all encouraged to aim for as SEO webmasters.

But there are reasons you should want to appear in a Google Discover feed. On a base level, your site is getting exposure to users who may have never come across it before.

But probably the most important reason is that the Discover feed has a tool in Search Console (creatively named “Discover”) that allows you to see what content is being featured in the feed. You can also compare the performance of content featured on a Discover feed to how it is doing on SERPs.

As such, you can take what you did on your best-performing pages in the feed and try to replicate it on upcoming content to keep getting featured. Remember that the traffic you get from being featured in a Discover feed should also increase your SERPs ranking.

So, there really are many reasons why you should be focusing on optimizing your content for Google Discover.

Download a slide show on this topic: How to Optimize for Google Discover