It is one of the features on which the attention of the SEOs is focusing more and more because, as we said on other occasions, it gives a strong boost to the website’s traffic: letâ€™s talk about Google Discover, the news feed that appears by default in the search screen of mobile devices, to offer advice on what to do to try to increase your chances of appearing in the stream.
A search without a search
For many observers and experts, Discover marks the beginning of “a new era in the SEO, the one of research without research”, as written for instance by Dan taylor on SearchEngineJournal, because it offers users selected contents based on their search habits, on which then they will be more easily led to click.
Moreover, the tool also boasts special attentions by Big G, because Discover precisely is available both within the Google Chrome mobile apps (with a prominent position) and Google, where it has a specific section. In addition to that, the feed may also appear in organic mobile search results as a box of results titled “Interesting finds” (rarer than other rich results).
It contains informational contents in the form of news, articles, videos, advertisements and special Google rich results such as live sports results.
It is similar to social media feeds and, as mentioned, is highly customized based on the things that individual users seek (through traditional search) and Youtube videos they watch, all mixed by Google AI so to bring out new and user-specific content, deemed relevant and interesting. Moreover, as is the case for Facebook, the mechanism brings out the contents in a non-chronological flow.
How the system works
As users perform searches on Google and interact with Discover, the mechanism learns a lot about the person and his interests and tries to show relevant contents with which the user has not directly and previously interacted.
This learning process can take some time: for example, if I look for articles related to football teams to read results or other news, Google interprets this interest and locates a “favourite” team, for which it will provide me with contents deemed useful through Discover in the following weeks, such as real-time scores or latest news, without me having to perform searches.
The result for the lucky sites that enter the flow is made of sudden peaks of impressions and clicks, which however last only a few days (at most three) and are very irregular, a growth curve inconsistent and different from that of traditional organic traffic, paid or even coming from social media.
A new challenge for the SEO
This scenario represents a new challenge for SEOs, as well: if the process of content creation generally starts from finding the search intent and an effective keyword research to customize the experience and satisfy the intent, with the feed is difficult (if not impossible) identify the origin and there are still many unknowns.
Anyway, you can do SEO for Google Discover and work on optimizing certain areas that can give important results and increase your chances of appearing in the stream, because case studies show that they are related to better performance.
Technical SEO interventions for Google Discover
On the technical SEO front, optimizing the site to have a good performance in Google Discover does not actually offer particularly “revolutionary” indications, as best practices are still the ones useful for classic ranking. However, there are some areas – sometimes taken for granted or neglected – we should dedicate a higher span of attention.
Having a mobile friendly site with content accessible from mobile devices is a basic prerequisite, because Google Discover is only available on smartphones and tablets; however it may seem obvious, though, there are still many sites that work without a responsive mobile design or that still use the structure of distinct m-dot mobile Urls.
To offer a good mobile experience you have to comply with some basic principles, such as not presenting adverts or intrusive pop-ups and having in the article images or elements accessible and “readable” (and we know what the images are worth for Discover).
The other key area is the speed of your site, because there seems to be a correlation between a content that loads quickly and presence within the Google Discover feed, as well as a link to news websites and magazines that use AMPs.
Content strategy for Google Discover
Our content strategy to increase the possibilities to enter Discover must evaluate various aspects and try to combine different means and approaches because for example in the stream appear not only articles and other features of contents owned by Google, but also Youtube videos.
More generally, to be successful contents should be a mix of evergreen articles (updated to always provide accurate information), articles that follow the latest trends in an industry, news on relevant topics that can help create informative opinions. It is important to note that the Discover feed also includes contents with paywall.
The time factor for articles
One important thing to highlight is that Discover gives priority to real-time events and to news that is very current news, with a sensitivity to the time factor (even if the appearance of older articles is not excluded).
Much depends on the interests of users, who could only partially intercept the contents proposed by a site: even more than in general and traditional work, understanding your own target, its needs and its wider interests is a determining factor for success.