SEO guide on Google Discover optimization

by | Apr 2, 2024 | Information and content

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Search engine turns into a discovery engine. Google Discover is the app for Android and iOS smartphones that allows users to receive news, by push mode, based on current trends and interests. It can be a great opportunity to increase organic traffic to your website and reach new users.

For online publishers and sites with a lot of news stories, Google Discover is one of the biggest sources of traffic. For companies and brands that set up a content marketing strategy linked to current trends, or for bloggers, it can be an excellent opportunity to expand user base and online exposure.

Having worked for several years on large online magazines and national news publishers, I has been able to study how the algorithm works. Below, I’ll break down details, considerations, and tips for getting a lot of traffic from Google Discover.

How Google Discover works

Almost all of the traffic coming from Google Discover is to large news publishers, but there can also be room for smaller websites and industry blogs with a well-defined niche.

Entities and interests

Google Discover’s algorithm is primarily based on entities and trends. Indeed, it is able to identify the most read current topics in real time, isolating main entities (e.g. names of people, places, events) and getting related entities. For each set of entities, it collects a list of recent articles published on the web. It then ranks them, based on relevance and E-A-T parameters of experience, authority, and credibility.

On the other hand, it uses clusters of users, categorized on the basis of their interests. It compares them with current trends to create personalized and unique lists of items.

Exponential growth on Google Discover

Usually, on macro-topics the algorithm favors larger websites, and a big signal for the algorithm is incoming traffic. Because of this, articles that receive a lot of direct, social, paid, or referral traffic from other sources have a better chance of entering the first wave. However, Google Discover tries to stimulate curiosity. Thus, it expands content selection, based on secondary entities. This is where even the smallest websites have the opportunity to get into Google Discover feeds.

During the first wave, Google Discover’s algorithm learns from traffic data and CTR on feeds. Depending on its performance, an item could leave Discover, or it can gain more momentum. In this way, it is re-proposed in subsequent waves to an increasingly wide audience, until interest in the topic is exhausted.

Lifecycle of an article on Google Discover

The life cycle of an article on Google Discover is therefore short-lived because it is linked to current events and trends. But it could have an exponential growth in organic visits, thanks to the growth of audience with each wave.

Google Discover vs Google News

Google Discover and Google News are often confused because they both operate in the realm of current affairs and are based on the concept of entities. Instead, these are two tools with very different features and ways of distributing content.

If Google Discover is push and serves news to users, Google News is pull and users search for the news. Articles are in fact linked on channel’s home page and divided into categories. They appear in Google Serp snippet, following specific searches for queries related to current news.

Google Discover and Google News
Google Discover and Google News

Both platforms are open to all publishers, but Google News is very much tied to news industry. Entry threshold is higher and increases even more for Google News Showcase, the section with advanced features that gathers a few selected publishers.

However, the same article can appear on both Google News and Discover. By the way, it can remain in Google’s organic search and be used on other platforms as well. The same article must therefore be optimized for each channel.

Requirements to get into Google Discover

The first requirement to enter Google Discover is to have a website indexed on Google and fast on mobile devices. Then, you need to create a sitemap of your articles and upload it to Google Search Console (in addition to reporting the website to Google, you can get additional information about performance fom here).

Once indexed on Google, you have to abide by rules, carefully following Google’s policies. Basically, you should not post dangerous, violent, and deceptive content. Also, you have to be clear. This means that you need to clearly state information about authors and company, as well as how to get in touch.

Finally, as we said, websites with more traffic have a better chance of getting into Google Discover from the first wave. So, it could help a lot to have an additional source tbringing in a lot of traffic in the very short term, right after the article is published. This is not a basic requirement, but it can help tremendously.

SEO Optimization for Google Discover

As previously written, we need to write with all distribution channels of our article in mind . Basically, rules for writing SEO for a journalistic article apply. But we need to pay more attention to a few details that can make a difference on Google Discover.

Heading

The title (associated with the Open Graph og:title meta tag) is one of the two most important aspects. To enter the first wave, we must pay attention to the main entity, which has to be placed at the beginning or at least between the first words, and the secondary ones, which should appear within the first 65 characters. This part appears on organic SERP, as well as on Google news, so it should make sense and be comprehensive.

However, title length on Google Discover is up to 110 characters, so we have room to add a call to action. You should write somethig amazing fot the reader or give them a real reason to click and read. This way, we could increase CTR and give the item momentum in subsequent waves. Many people say that click-bait is punished by Google, but looking at the garbage that appears in the feed, it doesn’t seem that way. However, try not to use misleading titles out of professional ethics, for the sake of online information and to safeguard your credibility in front of readers.

Image

Featured image is the other important element. It must be light and at least 1200 pixels wide, preferably in a 16:9 landscape format. Technically, we need to implement it with max-image-preview:large meta tag setting (it specifies the image preview maximum size), or served via AMP page. The image should be original and of good quality. Its task, along with the title, is to draw attention among other content in the feed and to get people clicking.

No click-bait

Finally, I’d like to ask a favor to those who have read this guide on optimizing content for Google Discover. We are trying to make the web a better place. It’s easy to win with deception and click-bait headlines, but this is for losers. It is much more satisfying winning by posting quality content.

Luigi Nervo

Luigi Nervo

Digital Marketing Manager

Marketing, Seo and content expert (read the bio).

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Luigi Nervo

Luigi Nervo

Digital Marketing Manager

Marketing, Seo and content expert (read the bio).