Google’s Discover feed serves up a stream of content tailored to the user’s preferences. The Discover feed can drive significant traffic for publications that have their content featured in it, but “there’s no way to create content that explicitly targets Discover’s interest matching,” John Shehata, VP, global audience development strategy & CRM at Condé Nast, said during his session at SMX Next, quoting Google.
“That’s completely true,” he continued, “but there are several things you can do to improve your chances of doing well in Google Discover.” Shehata gave the following techniques for publishers to enhance their potential to rank in Google Discover based on data from one million pages (equating to 27 billion impressions) over the previous 90 days, as well as his own experience.
Instead of clickbait, use emotional titles
“When we looked at the top titles in Google Discover [those with a CTR of over 25% and at least 10,000 impressions], you’ll notice that a lot of them are in the ‘clickbaity’ category, so is there bait and switch?” Shehata remarked.
“No, it won’t work; if you promise one thing and then go to the site and it’s completely different,” he said. “But emotional titles still work extremely well,” he added, emphasizing the distinction between clickbaity, outrageous names, and titles with an effective emotional element.
Furthermore, according to statistics from GD Dash, which Shehata highlighted throughout his presentation, listicles made up 13% of the top 100 stories in Discover (with a 25%+ CTR and >10,000 impressions). Shehata advises marketers to avoid 10-item listicles if they want to attract Discover traffic: “It has the lowest click-through rate.” People think it’s generic and made-up, so stay away from ’10,'” he advised.
Include high-resolution Images
“I cannot underscore how critical this is,” Shehata said, offering the following advice:
The max-image-preview: large setting or AMP should be used if your larger photos are at least 1200 pixels wide. “I have seen this raise CTR by two or three times,” he claimed, adding, “I have seen this move your little images, like this on the left [in the screenshot above] to the right size, which is the full-width image.”
- For hero photos, use a 16:9 aspect ratio.
- Avoid utilizing the logo of a website as your image.
- Stay away from skewed media.
- Give the image a descriptive file name.
- Fill in the appropriate alt text.
Recognize and improve E-A-T signals
While Search and Discover are two separate products, the E-A-T concepts as they apply to content are the same. The phrase E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) was added to Google’s Discover standards in 2020. “They’re going to look at E-A-T when they’re analyzing Google Discover content,” Shehata said. “This phrase hasn’t been there before.”
Demonstrating E-A-T in your material can help you persuade Google that it is trustworthy, free of misinformation, useful to users, and so worthy of being recommended. Optimizing your author pages is one approach to boost your E-A-T.
He also suggested the following methods for improving your E-A-T for Google and your readers:
- Use HTTPS to secure your website.
- Your pieces include dates, bylines, and author information.
- Give details about the publication, the publisher, and/or the company that produced it.
- To increase confidence and openness, including contact details.
- The author’s social media profiles can be found here.
Use the API to find subjects and entities that are relevant to your business
Publishers can use Google’s natural language processing to identify which entities attract their audiences and work for their articles now that Discover data is available in the Google Search Console Search Analytics API.
Image: John Shehata.
“You start figuring out what themes work for you if you use the Google Discover API and run it through Google natural language processing,” Shehata said, adding that publishers should “double down on these topics” because Google already considers them an authority on such issues.
Image: John Shehata.
These subjects can be sorted based on impressions, click-through rate, or page count. Sorting by impressions reveals the areas where you have the most visibility and, as a result, authority. By sorting by CTR, you can see which topics your audience is interested in. Sorting by the number of pages and referencing CTR, for example, might help you identify areas where your content should be improved.
Bring your evergreen material up to date
Updating your evergreen content can help you attract more Discover visitors. The number of clicks increased each time the article was refreshed, as shown in the graph below.
Image: John Shehata.
Publishers should stick to the same URL and change the title every now and then, Shehata advised.
Recognize your Google Discover data
Setting a baseline contextualizes your data and allows you to see which tales fared better than others. To that aim, you should know:
- Your average CTR by category;
- Your average impressions per tale; and
- Your average daily life span by narrative.
It’s also vital to note that Discover traffic is classified as “direct” in Google Analytics (see the screenshots above). “I’d estimate that Discover traffic accounts for roughly 25% to 30% of direct traffic in Google Analytics, so keep an eye on it,” Shehata added.
Keep in mind that Google Discover is a complementary channel
“A word of warning… I want to make sure that you understand that Google Discovery traffic is not predictable, and it shouldn’t be regarded as a fundamental strategy of your SEO,” Shehata stated. While the extra traffic may help you meet your business objectives, Discover cannot guarantee a steady stream of traffic because there is no way to target individuals or interests.
Having said that, most of the ideas Shehata mentioned can be applied to your usual search approach, so there’s little extra effort to do to optimize for Discover, but there’s a lot of traffic that may be earned.