Back in 2018, Google relaunched its content discovery feed under the new name, Google Discover, and introduced a set of new features to help users find the content they love without searching for it.
When Discover first launched, Google said more than 800 million people were using the content feed every month, making this an important channel for brands to connect with audiences outside of Search. In this article, we look at how you can optimise your content to show up in Google Discover and expand your reach.
Discover is not the same as search
Before you can optimise your content to show up in Google Discover, you need to understand how the platform is different from Search. As Google explains itself:
“With Search, users enter a search term to find helpful information related to their query but Discover takes a different approach. Instead of showing results in response to a query, Discover surfaces content primarily based on what Google's automated systems believe to be a good match with a user's interests. The content in Discover changes regularly based on newly published web content or evolving user interests.”
Google admits that this makes traffic from Discover “less predictable” than Search and recommends using this channel as a supplement to your organic and paid search strategies.
With Google Discover, there’s no active search behaviour. Users are scrolling through a feed of personalised recommendations, which puts this more in line with social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
How to optimise your content for Discover
Content is automatically eligible to show in Discover as soon as it’s indexed by Google, assuming it meets the platform’s content policies. To improve your chances of showing up in discover, here are some key optimisation steps you can follow:
- Headlines: Create engaging headlines that accurately describe your content but avoid using any click-bait tactics.
- Images: Use high-quality images in your content of at least 1200px wide and use the max-image-preview:[setting] directive to enable preview images.
- Content freshness: Create content that’s timely for the current interests of your audience, accurate and tells a compelling story or offers unique insights.
- Information: Show publication dates, profiles for content creators, publisher or network branding, contact information and social links to build trust.
- Legitimacy: Avoid using any tactics to inflate engagement, such as misleading content or withholding information, as well as manipulating interest with tactics like morbid curiosity or outrage.
Google lists content freshness as a key factor in the “How content appears in Discover” section of this Search Central documentation page. However, it’s also talked about Discover as a platform for discovering evergreen content that isn’t new to the web but is still relevant and new to individual users.
So make sure you create and identify your own evergreen content and keep it up-to-date for new users discovering it for the first time.
The role of E-A-T in Discover
E-A-T has been a big topic in SEO for the past 18 months but it’s not something Google itself comments on very often. If you’re not sure what E-A-T is, it stands for the concept of expertise, authoritativeness and trust and you can find out more about this in our no-nonsense guide to E-A-T.
Without any confirmation from Google, E-A-T is accepted as a crucial factor in content optimisation and there happens to be a specific reference to this in the developer documentation for Discover:
“Our automated systems surface content in Discover from sites that have many individual pages that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T). Those looking to improve E-A-T can consider some of the same questions we encourage site owners to consider for Search. While Search and Discover are different, the overall principles for E-A-T as it applies to content within them are similar.”
This little snippet confirms the importance of E-A-T for both Google Search and Discover so make this a priority for all of the content you create.
Know your audiences’ interests
With Discover being a content discovery platform, you don’t have any keyword targeting options to pinpoint interested users. This means you really need to understand the interests of your target audiences to stand the best chance of getting your content in their feed and these interests aren’t necessarily the same as they are when they turn to Google Search.
For example, people are probably only in the market to buy a new TV every few years or more, yet Google is going to be recommending content to them based on their interests over 365 days per year. So you need to think about long-term interests and how this might correspond with interest in your brand - eg: annual reviews of the year’s best films and shows to watch in 4K (evergreen content).
The good news is, you can experiment with content ideas designed for Discover and track performance by using the dedicated performance reports for Discover in Google Analytics. You can configure these reports to prioritise your most important metrics and filter data by country, date, dimension and more.
If you’d like help with your content marketing, contact us.
Sally Newman, SEO Specialist at Vertical Leap.