If you're refreshing your SEO strategy for the new year, Google Discover is one to watch. While it has been around in various forms for a few years, it's fallen under the radar for many marketers, but could actually open up brand-new opportunities for SEO. To help you get ahead in 2023, we'll share our tips for making the most of Google Discover in the new year and beyond.
What is Google Discover?
To know how to use Google Discover to your advantage, you'll first need to know what Google Discover actually is. Previously called Google Feed, this innovative feature uses Google's powerful AI to suggest content that may be of interest to a user based on previous search behaviour. For example, news stories related to their local area or evergreen guides related to a specific hobby. It goes beyond search to show relevant content before a search is even made.
What's new with Google Discover?
Since its original launch in 2018, Google Discover has gone through a few changes and updates. The first is the expansion of the content shown under Discover. Originally, the majority of suggestions were news content, but the feature has been improved to show relevant evergreen content too. Users also have the option to control what they see in Discover by selecting whether they want to see more or less of a particular topic, or more or less content from a certain site.
However, most importantly, Google has improved its reporting system in Search Console to include data from Discover. The Discover Performance Report will show:
How often your site is shown in Discover
How much traffic you're getting from Discover
Which pieces of content are performing well in Discover
How your Discover performance compares to your Search performance
So how is this relevant to SEO? Our Search Director Marc Swann explained it best:
"Google is always looking for ways to make search more intuitive and Discover is really the next step up from that. It's given marketers even more opportunities to generate traffic.
"SEO isn't just about ranking on the front page anymore. If you're dealing with a highly competitive industry or a niche topic, there's still the possibility of appearing in someone's Discover feed, which means you can reach a whole new audience of people who might be interested in your content but may never have found it organically.
"Like Search, Discover will be looking for high-quality content and well-performing sites so, if you're doing things according to Google guidelines, you shouldn't need to alter your strategy too much. That being said, it's definitely something you should be tracking and targeting to make the most of your SEO efforts. If you notice something is performing well in Discover, you can use this insight to optimise other pieces of content."
How to appear on discover
It's important to note that Google won't choose content at random to display on Discover, but it won't just pick pages from the top of the SERP either. Not much is known about how Google's algorithm chooses Discover content, but we do know how we can optimise our content to stand the best chance of being shown.
While optimising for Discover also won't guarantee you a spot in the feed, a few simple updates can give you a fighting chance. Plus, many of these tips will boost the overall quality of your content, which could just help improve rankings in the main search results, too.
1. Focus on quality
Google itself states that "content is automatically eligible to appear in Discover if it is indexed by Google and meets Discover's content policies. No special tags or structured data are required." That being said, quality is still a major factor when it comes to optimising for the feature. Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness will still reign supreme, so writing people-first content may improve your chances of appearing in Discover. This includes optimising for relevant search terms, adding links to data and sources, and creating author bio pages.
While they may capture attention, exaggerated or clickbaity titles, headings, or content will been seen as misleading, so avoid these.
2. Optimise for mobile
Google Discover is a mobile-based feature so make sure your site is optimised for mobile, if you haven't already. Page speed is an important factor. A slow-loading page will lead to higher bounce rates, which will signify to Google that your site is low quality. Optimising your site for Accelerated Mobile Pages is therefore key if you want to improve your UX and chances of showing up in Discover.
3. High-quality imagery
Images will capture a user's attention much quicker than even the most engaging headline, so including appealing imagery should be at the top of your SEO list. Not only should you ensure all images are optimised with descriptive file names and alt text, but you should also make sure they'll look good under the Discover format. You can do this by ensuring large images are at least 1200 px wide and have the max-image-preview:large meta tag. This signals to Google that there is a large image to display in the feed, which helps make your listing stand out among other sites.
4. Don't focus on keywords alone
Keywords and search volumes are incredibly important for Google Search. Knowing the exact terms your audience is searching for can help you deliver the content that suits their needs best. However, Discover may work in a different way. Search terms will be less important for Discover because you'll be targeting users who haven't made a search yet. This means knowing your audience, their likes and dislikes, and what drives them to click is more vital than optimising for specific keywords.
This can be incredibly helpful in competitive fields. If you focus on more general, high-volume topics, you may lose out to higher-profile sites. But, focussing on more niche themes that your audience cares about can help you grab a valuable Discover spot. Online forums and tools like Answer The Public can help you find relevant topics to write about.
5. Check your analytics
As always, checking your analytics can help you see which pages are performing well and which aren't, so you can make any necessary changes from there. It could be that certain topics lead to more traffic, or visual content is shown more often. If your analytics don't show any valuable insights, it's also worth doing competitor research to determine what they're doing differently.
Google Discover has opened up a world of opportunity for marketers, so be sure to make the most of this fast-growing feature and add Discovery optimisation into your 2023 SEO strategy. You can find even more digital marketing news and advice on our blog, where we post a whole host of tips from our technical SEO, content, and outreach experts.
If you're thinking of refreshing your SEO strategy for the new year, get in touch with our team for a free no-obligation chat to find out how we can help you.