Marketers have been catching up with updates and tweaks made by Google over the years.
From universal search to voice search and algorithm updates like The Penguin and The Hummingbird, each of these updates has impacted how marketers approach their SEO.
Google Discover, launched in September 2018 is one such update that has left SEO’ers scratching their heads. Marketers across the world are trying to figure out how they can leverage Google Discover to generate traffic and grow their site.
Before we discuss the necessary steps for optimizing your content strategy to generate traffic from Google Discover, let’s try and understand how the feed really works:
Google Discover – The Feed
Google Discover is a feed in the Google app that can be found on the bottom right when you open the app. The spartan logo will help you locate it.
With Google Discover, users “discover” content. The links and pages in this feed are relevant to the users based on their behavior.
Used by over 800 million people daily, marketers across the world view it as an untapped source of traffic and even leads.
Many thought that this feed was just one of the experiments run by Google until last year. But looking at the level of engagement it gets from individual users; Google decided to put ads in it.
Google Discover vs Social Media Feeds
Google Discover is a feed, just like the ones we have on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Only, here the level of personalization is way better than others, thanks to Google’s Knowledge Graph which has had almost a decade, and oceans of data to train and perfect.
Unlike social media feeds, the updates on who liked which posts and which buddy tagged you in a meme is absent in Google Discover.
Content marketing teams see it as an excellent opportunity to grow their traffic, making it very important to optimize your content for Google Discover. For some, it should be as important as building a strong social media community, if not more.
For the beginners, here is some more info about Google Discover.
How does Google Discover work?
Let’s try and do a small drill here. At the time of writing this post (this very sentence in fact), I opened my Google Discover feed to show how Google suggests content that is very useful and relevant to me.
So I open my Feed, and this is one of the stories I get in my first couple of scrolls.
I recently read about LogicApps and watched some videos on YouTube about it.
Note this, because the posts I’d read earlier were from sites like Microsoft Azure, TechCrunch, and Sitepoint (all authoritative publications for the domain), Google has made sure it feeds me content from another quality site – SAP Blogs.
Let’s look at some other examples. I recently read about a significant event in the cryptocurrency domain, i.e. bitcoin halving.
While going through Google’s webmaster blog last night, I had re-discovered the E-A-T concept and read some posts that Google had shared.
Just for full disclosure, it was not all about curiosity to know more about the subject but to know more about publications that got a link back from folks at Google.
You can find suggestions for both of these:
Tesla and Elon Musk made headlines, and since I follow them closely, I got one in the feed.
I also follow news on Mutual Funds and stocks regularly. So got one for that. Here are the posts:
Put simply; Google Discover is a feed customized for individual users where they can find content that is relevant to their interests and needs.
Closely integrated with Google’s Knowledge Graph, Discover sorts content based on intent and context of your search queries and engagement with various publications, to create a customized feed with content for you.
So, is Google Discover just a rebranded version of Google News?
No. It is, however, an advanced version of “Google Feed”- only with a more robust algorithm behind it with a great UX that makes it popular among users.
Optimizing your content strategy for Google Discover
Before we start discussing each of these steps in detail, it is important to understand that getting traffic from Google Discover means an overall optimization of your content strategy. Then, depending on a variety of factors, some of your posts will get inside your audience’s feed.
So, instead of focusing on getting a particular piece of content into Google Discover – focus on how you can improve your overall content marketing strategy to make the most out of this.
1. It’s still about the keywords
The content we see in the Discover feed is a result of personalization and semantic indexing by Google’s Knowledge Graph.
Based on your search queries and interaction with the results followed by that, Google assigns different pieces of content with context.
But how does Google get an idea about context?
In Google’s announcement about the Discover feed, it said:
“…there aren’t any methods for boosting the ranking of your pages other than posting content that you think users will find interesting.”
But the only way its Knowledge Graph can assign context and intent to your content is by performing a semantic analysis of keywords inside it.
So, the very first step is to use a bigger pool of secondary keywords in your content.
But here’s the catch: the keywords need to demonstrate a certain level of intent. That is the sort of traffic you would prefer.
For finding keywords like these, the easiest way is to use the “Keywords Everywhere” extension.
Once you have installed the extension, just perform a Google search and check out the right side of your screen.
It tells you “Related Keywords” as well as “People also search for”.
Now, the keywords in the “People also search for” tab is what you need. Optimize your content for it.
Using those keywords, unnecessarily is not going to cut it. Make sure you add value for the readers.
Let’s look at one example now. I will go to my Google Discover feed and see if I can find an educational post. I will then run it through to show you the pattern of keyword usage in those posts.
I had a look at my Discover feed and found some results that a majority of people can understand. These three were there:
PS. It’s not a screenshot of Google Discover. Just snips of the three posts to avoid clutter.
Here are the links: PPC Campaign article, Bitcoin-halving by BBC, and Debenture vs Bond.
To look at the various keyword phrases used, I think it’s best we look at an older one. So, let’s go with the article on PPC campaigns.
I am using the chrome extension “SEOquake” for this. I like SEOquake because it creates a detailed report on all the keywords in a given page. It also gives details about the number of words in a phrase. You can find the keywords with the right intent using this feature.
So, once we have the chrome extension in place, open the article and click on the extension in the top right corner. Here’s the high-level analysis it shows:
Following this, click on “Density” to check out the keywords.
Here are some of the 4-word keyword groups I found:
Also, look at some of the single-word keywords:
Now, will it suffice to add a lot of these keywords? No!
It is just there for the context.
So, be sure to use a good variety of secondary keywords that caters to different user journeys about the topic.
2. Striking a balance – Evergreen vs Trending
Now, a lot of people confuse Google Discover with the News feed.
These marketers end up trying to create viral content with catchy titles instead of evergreen content.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though.
While the feed has trending articles in the majority, it is also important to note that the click-through-rate for those keywords is going to be lower.
Not only this, but the chances of getting your trending articles in Google Discover are also pretty thin if you are not a news publication with millions of readers.
Say you did crack it and managed one of your trending posts into the discover feeds, these posts with catchy titles will do no good after a couple of weeks of being posted.
So, your best shot is to create skyscraper content that helps your audience. That way, you won’t be compromising the chances of ranking in organic search and get a valuable audience from Google Discover at the same time.
3. AMP + GMB + Knowledge Graph – Cover the basics
To be featured in Google Discover, it is vital to have a Google My Business account or an entity in Knowledge Graph.
Unless you have either of these, there’s virtually no chance of you getting traffic from the Discover feed.
Make sure you have an up to date GMB profile with optimized geo-tagged images, relevant posts, and good reviews from customers.
Another important aspect of getting inside the Discover feed is to leverage AMP and deliver fast-loading pages to mobile users. And it’s not just about the traffic from Google Discover.
Fast-loading pages with AMP has an even more significant impact on your organic traffic. Websites with AMP experience a whopping 88% improvement in loading time as compared to traditional web pages.
Another critical factor in getting traffic from Google Discover is to use high-resolution images in the posts/pages. Apart from increasing your chances of getting into Google Discover, it also helps you to get the optimum click-through rate after you’ve successfully made it to the feed.
The 7-point checklist
- Create thorough and insightful content
- Follow the AMP requirements
- Use high-resolution images
- Optimize content for semantic search
- Optimize GMB Profile/Knowledge Graph entity
- Use highly engaging titles
- Promote on social media platforms.
Once you have fully implemented all these pointers in your content strategy, you can start expecting traffic from Google Discover.
Do the best you can. And be patient. The traffic will follow!
Guest author: Harsh Vardhan Dutta is a digital marketer, professional copywriter, and entrepreneur at Italics, a marketing communications agency.