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How To Optimize For Google Discover In 7 Steps

Google Discover is an organic channel you can tap into to showcase your content directly to interested users.

Yet, marketers overlook the Discover feed too often—which is a mistake.

Google Discover is a relatively low-effort channel to maintain, but it can greatly benefit your overall organic marketing strategy.

In this article, I'll show you why you should make Google Discover an important aspect of your SEO strategy and how to get your content featured.

What you will learn

  • What Google Discover is and why you should optimize for it
  • How Google decides which content is featured on the Discover feed
  • How to optimize your content for Google Discover

What is Google Discover?

Google Discover is a personalized content feed primarily based on the user's search activity.

It shows up in the mobile version of Google Chrome and the Google app, resembling a social media feed.

To see Discover in action, you can open the Google app on your phone—here's what it looks like:

Discover shows content in the form of cards, and there are four content types you'll see:

  1. Article links—Besides curated articles related to your interests, Google Discover typically displays content related to lifestyle, entertainment, sports, and business.
  2. Web Stories—Not to be confused with content published on Google News, Web Stories show up in the form of multimedia content (audio, images, and video).
  3. YouTube videos and Shorts—If your YouTube history is turned on, the Discover feed will show videos and shorts based on it.
  4. Discovery ads—Google occasionally displays Discovery ads next to organic results, which either contain a short copy or accompanying images.

As you scroll through the feed, new content will keep popping up. Note that there is a limit to the number of cards a user can see, so you'll want to ensure your content is among them.

Why optimize for Discover

Optimizing your content for Google Discover gives you an additional marketing channel to tap into. There are three main reasons to do it:

Brand exposure

Google Discover gives you another platform to get in front of your audience, which can do wonders for brand visibility and reach.

Discover has over 800 million monthly active users, so optimizing your content for it can unlock a wealth of opportunities.

Increased traffic

Due to its popularity, Discover has a massive potential to boost your traffic beyond organic search results. Think of a page featured on it as a separate website without the usual trappings of search rankings.

In one case study, an article published in the Discover feed saw a whopping 130k impressions with over 21.7k clicks. More impressively, all this traffic was generated in only three days.

Repeat visitors

If the Discover algorithm sees that users are responding to your content positively, it will likely send more of them your way.

This means your articles might keep being featured, giving you an excellent way to build a loyal, engaged audience.

Discover also has a Follow feature, which allows users to stay updated on everything their favorite publications post. This further cultivates loyalty and helps you stay in front of your audience's minds.

How Google Discover works

Your content is automatically eligible to appear on Google Discover if it's indexed by Google's search algorithm and doesn't violate any Discover content policies.

In short, the content must not be violent, harassing, deceptive, or harmful in any other way—which means the guidelines are largely the same as for any other content you post online.

Being eligible for Google Discover isn't the same as actually being displayed on the feed.

Due to the personalized nature of the Discover feed, each user will see different content depending on the following factors:

  • Google Web & App activity (if it's enabled in the user's Google account)
  • Location history
  • Location settings

The topics a user follows are also factored in, so content preferences are another major factor. The same goes for engagement metrics like clicks and time spent on specific articles, as they indicate the user's interests.

While you can't influence many of these factors, there are several steps you can take to maximize the chances of your content being featured on Google Discover.

7 steps to optimize for Google Discover

Getting on Google Discover involves many of the same steps as ranking high in Google search, plus a few additional considerations.

Here's how you can optimize your content for Discover:

1. Create helpful content

By rolling out the helpful content update in 2022, Google made it clear that it prioritizes people-first pieces. While the helpful content guidelines are primarily aimed at helping you rank high in SERPs, they also extend to Google Discover.

This means that if you want your content to be featured, it needs to be seen as a valuable source of information.

Your piece must address the user's search intent and answer their question as comprehensively as possible.

It also needs to be free of fluff, grammar and spelling errors, and other issues that damage the user experience.

Another thing you should do is to familiarize yourself with Google's E-E-A-T guidelines. This acronym depicts the four key elements your content needs to showcase:

  1. Experience
  2. Expertise
  3. Authoritativeness
  4. Trustworthiness

To write content that adheres to the E-E-A-T guidelines, you need to conduct thorough research and include everything your target audience wants to know about a topic.

Remember that the Discover feed is curated based on user interests, so your content should be aligned with them and provide reliable information.

As you can see, a lot goes into creating helpful content—from choosing relevant keywords that align with your audience's intent to writing high-quality articles that adhere to E-E-A-T guidelines.

The good news is that there are tools to help you speed up the process.

For instance, using Keyword Research, you can find relevant topics, their search intent, and how often people search for such topics.

Next, you can enter this topic into Surfer AI, and in less than 20 minutes, the tool will create an article draft on it.

Then, you can focus on adding value and showcasing authority by humanizing the AI content. This means:

  • Add your unique voice and perspective to make the content feel more personal and less robotic.
  • Use real-life stories or experiences to illustrate points and make the content relatable.
  • Light humor can make the content more enjoyable and memorable.
  • Avoid monotonous patterns by mixing short and long sentences to create a more natural flow.
  • Write as if you are talking to the reader, using a friendly and approachable tone.

If you need more help giving your content that human touch, you can use Surfer's AI Humanizer.

2. Resize your featured image

Captivating visuals can significantly improve your content's CTR and engagement, so you'll want to use high-quality images in your Discover posts.

The featured image is particularly important, as it can stop the user from scrolling. In addition to being visually appealing, you must pay close attention to its size.

Featured images should be at least 1200px wide, and you need to enable the max-image-preview:large setting.

Ideally, you should aim for the size of 1600 x 840/630px, so make sure to resize the image to these values.

As a side note, the featured image needs to be relevant to your article's topic. It shouldn't be a site logo because this goes against the Discover content guidelines.

3. Write compelling titles

Combine captivating images with engaging titles to maximize the chances of someone clicking on your Google Discover post.

The title must accurately reflect the page's content while being enticing enough to encourage the user to act.

Here are some quick but effective tips for standout titles:

Use power words: Power words—like ultimate, strengths, and genius—are an excellent way to evoke emotion, so add them to the title whenever possible.

Offer solutions to a problem: Titles that drill into the reader's pain point or clearly communicate what the reader will achieve are more likely to encourage clicks.

Include numbers: If you're publishing a listicle, always include numbers in the title, as they can grab the reader's attention. Alternatively, you can insert statistics or other compelling figures.

Leverage curiosity—Teaser headlines can intrigue the reader, so hint at what they'll learn without revealing too much.

Whichever way you approach titles, always avoid clickbait.

Clickbait titles should always be avoided because they disappoint readers and make them less likely to engage with your future content.

As mentioned, Google doesn't feature misleading content in the Discover feed, so your chances of appearing on it are slim if your content overpromises and underdelivers.

4. Enable the RSS feed

As mentioned, Google Discover has a Follow feature that lets users follow updates from their favorite websites.

This feature leverages a website's RSS or Atom feeds to make this happen, so you need to have them enabled.

If you have multiple RSS feeds, you can choose which of them you want users to follow by explicitly telling Google through the following line of code:

You can place the above code in the <head> section of your core/hub page's HTML and all the individual supporting pages you want to include. Doing so lets Google find your RSS/Atom feed and enable the Follow feature.

As explained above, you must also ensure the "title" element is included when linking your RSS feed.

If you do everything correctly and the feed still isn't enabled, it might be blocked in your robots.txt file (which defines which pages you want Google to crawl and index). You can use Google Search Console to get a robots.txt report and check whether this is true.

Keep in mind that the Follow feature isn't available globally. As of this writing, it's only accessible to users in the following countries:

  • US
  • UK
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • Canada
  • Australia

Still, such geographic availability gives you more than enough potential readers, so enabling the RSS feed is well worth it.

5. Focus on trending topics

Even though Google Discover content differs from pieces typically published in Google News, it should still be current and relevant.

By riding the wave of popular trends, you can get abundant Discover traffic in a short time frame.

A good example of timely content is last year's article reviewing the latest Mission Impossible movie. As you can see in the following graph from Search Console's Google Discover tab, the article had 182k impressions and 6.3k clicks in only two days:

Of course, the hype surrounding trending topics often dies down quickly, so you'll want to constantly look for new opportunities. You can do this in several ways, such as:

  • Using Google Trends to explore different topics and their recent search interest
  • Keeping track of your chosen topic through social media platforms like X and Reddit
  • Following the latest industry changes using the relevant publications in your niche

6. Optimize for mobile devices

Seeing as Google Discover is a mobile-only platform, it's crucial to optimize your content accordingly.

Google switched to mobile-first indexing in 2020, so any effort to make your pages mobile-friendly can positively impact your overall SEO strategy.

You can use PageSpeed Insights to measure your content's current mobile performance and identify areas of improvement. The most important aspect to focus on is Google's Core Web Vitals, which encompass three metrics:

  1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)—Measures the perceived page load speed by assessing the time needed to load the page's main content
  2. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)—Determines a page's visual stability by measuring the sum total of unexpected layout shifts
  3. Interaction to Next Paint (INP)—Assesses a page's responsiveness by tracking any latency of taps, clicks, and keyboard interactions

You'll also get an overview of other notable metrics, such as First Input Delay (FID) and Time to First Byte (TTFB), whose values should be within Google's prescribed ranges.

PageSpeed Insights will use these metrics and other factors to calculate the Performance Score, a reliable indicator of the page's overall mobile friendliness.

When you scroll down, you'll get complete diagnostics of performance issues, which makes it easy to spot errors.

Before getting into the nitty-gritty with PageSpeed Insights, you can take the following general tips to optimize your content for mobile devices:

Format your content properly—A few lines of content on a desktop can appear as huge blocks of text on a smartphone. Break up your content with lists, bullet points, and other elements that contribute to the overall readability.

Optimize images—Make sure your images are compressed so that they don't impair the page's load time. You can use a format like WebP for lossless compression.

Ensure responsiveness—Create a responsive page by being mindful of its layout in both portrait and landscape mode. Make sure any buttons are well-formatted and easy to click.

7. Leverage structured data

Structured data helps search engines understand your page's content more deeply. Google uses it to show the so-called rich snippets, which differ from a typical search result. Here's how a rich snippet shows up in SERPs:

The results include relevant data like the course's rating and duration. But what does this have to do with Discover?

Structured data gives Google a better understanding of your content, so it increases the chances of your piece appearing in the Discover feed.

You can use different markup types depending on your content's specifics, for example:

  • FAQ snippets for providing concise answers to questions
  • Product markup (name, price, payment options) for e-commerce content
  • Recipe snippets (which highlight data like cooking time or calorie count)

How to improve Google Discover performance

One of the best ways to make Google Discover work for you is to get into the Knowledge Graph—Google's database containing billions of data points on what users search for.

When Google has lots of credible information on a business, it will start showing the so-called knowledge panel in search results, like so:

Having a knowledge panel about your business is an excellent sign that Google considers it authoritative, which boosts your chances of being featured in the Discover feed.

There's no direct way to get into the Knowledge Graph as Google automatically pulls data from numerous sources to determine a website's authority.

With this in mind, setting yourself apart in the Knowledge Graph comes down to ensuring credible data sources mention your brand.

An effective way to expedite this process is to create a Wikipedia page about your business. This is because Google uses it as one of its main sources, so having a Wikipedia entry significantly improves your credibility.

Monitor your Google Discover performance

You can't know whether your efforts to get on Discover are paying off without careful monitoring.

You can use the Performance report for Discover in Google Search Console to see whether your content is featured in Discover and to track the traffic.

The report will give you some basic but valuable data, such as:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Average CTR

While it may not be too abundant, this data can inform your content strategy and optimization efforts.

For example, if you have many impressions but few clicks, you might want to consider changing your featured image or title.

Key takeaways

  • Google Discover is a personalized content feed displayed on the Google app and mobile version of Chrome.
  • Each user's Google Discover feed differs and depends on their online activity, location, and interests.
  • Being featured on Google Discover improves your brand exposure and gives you another marketing channel besides organic results. It also offers a chance to build a loyal audience through the Follow feature.
  • To become eligible for Google Discover, you must create content following the Discover guidelines.
  • High-quality content is the backbone of all SEO tactics, and Google Discover is no different. Write helpful, people-first content and follow Google E-E-A-T guidelines.
  • Your article's featured image and title must leave a strong first impression to encourage clicks. Use high-quality images with the appropriate size, and craft compelling headlines without resorting to clickbait.
  • Discover's Follow feature uses a website's RSS or Atom feed, so ensure it's enabled. You can define the exact feeds you want to feature using simple HTML code.
  • Timely content performs well on Discover, so use social media, Google Trends, and credible publications to keep up with the latest topics and industry trends.
  • Google Discover is only available on mobile devices, so your content needs to be optimized accordingly. Pay attention to the page's layout and the content's readability, and use PageSpeed Insights to uncover any issues.
  • Structured data helps Google understand your content, which increases its chances of appearing on Discover. Use schema markup to highlight the relevant data.
  • Getting into the Google Knowledge base can significantly improve your chances of reaching the Discover feed. Encourage brand mentions from credible sources, and create a Wikipedia page to boost your authority.
  • You can use the Performance report for Discover in Google Search Console to see if your tactics are working.

Conclusion

Getting on Google Discover might not be easy because the rules are somewhat vague—so much so that some users believe Google's selection is random. This isn't necessarily true, and there are concrete steps you can take to maximize your chances of being featured.

Follow the guidelines you saw here, build your website's authority, and your audience might see you in their feeds soon enough.

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