What is Google Discover, and are you optimizing for it?
Google’s answer to social media feeds just got a major makeover, and it could have an impact on how people search.
Here’s what you need to know about Discover.
What We’ll Cover:
- The origins of Discover: Google Feed
- What Google Discover is and how it differs from the Feed
- Google Discover SEO
- Google Discover FAQ
The Origins: Google Feed
In simplest terms, Discover is Google’s take on a social media feed.
In fact, until a few months ago, Discover was actually called Google Feed.
Google launched its Feed feature back in December 2016 as a collection of cards meant to help users stay updated on the stories that mattered most to them.
So, think of it as a social media feed, except instead of following users, you’re following interests: music, entertainment, sports, marketing, animals, etc.
The Feed helped fulfill one of Google’s biggest goals: to help users search easily, even if they don’t know exactly what it is they’re searching for.
See, the Feed marked a big departure for Google.
Traditionally, Google and its SERPS act on a search query basis: a user enters in a query, and Google returns the most relevant results.
Google Feed, on the other hand, was built to give you information before you even search for it. As Google put it, the Feed would make it “easier than ever to discover, explore and stay connected to what matters to you—even when you don’t have a query in mind.”
The real question, of course, was whether or not users wanted a social media-like function from Google.
The answer? Over 800 million people used the feed.
I’d say that’s a pretty big yes.
So it doesn’t come as much surprise that Google’s investing more into this feature, rebranding it Google Discover.
What is Google Discover, and How is it Different?
Google unveiled its intent to rebrand and revamp the feature formerly known as Google Feed in September this year as part of its three-tiered shift in how it approaches search.
One of those shifts is this: “the shift from queries to providing a queryless way to get information. We can surface relevant information related to your interests, even when you don’t have a specific query in mind.”
Enter Google Discover.
Though it functions similarly to the Google Feed, Discover comes with some significant updates.
But first, it’s important to note that the way Google surfaces content will remain largely the same. Meaning, it’s based on your personal search history and a dose of Google AI.
If you haven’t indicated specific interests, Google will pull them for you based on your search history.
So (no surprise here), when I launch my Google app, my feed is full of digital marketing and SEO news.
Over time, as you continue to interact with Discover, Google will continue to learn your habits and serve more relevant content.
Now, for the differences:
First and most obvious, the name.
Google decided to rebrand the feature as Google Discover feed because it felt the new name better reflects its mission to uncover fresh and interesting contents that matter most to its users.
New Look – Topic Headers and Discover Icon
Next, Google redesigned the feed to make it more visually appealing – and more relevant.
One notable new addition is that of topic headers and the Discover icon. They’re intended to explain why you’re seeing a particular card, and, if you want more content like it, you can click on the header to see more related stories.
Once you click on the header (and the adjacent Discover icon), you’ll also have the option to Follow the interest to receive consistent updates in your Discover page.
Google’s also adding in new kinds of content to its Discover page.
Previously, most of the content surfaced in Google Feed was news-related or trending. Now, the feed features a mix of content based on each user. Google will be incorporating evergreen content into the mix (content that isn’t new on the web, but is new to you.)
As an example, Google says “when you’re planning your next trip, Discover might show an article with the best places to eat or sights to see. Suddenly, a travel article published three months ago is timely for you.”
And it gets even cooler.
Because Google is Google (and has the luxury of your search history and AI on its hands), it can surface content based on your level of experience with a certain subject.
So, if you just picked up a guitar and are firmly in the beginner category, Google will show you content relevant to your experience level – no advanced riffs or songs.
On the other hand, if you know your way around an instrument, you’ll only see the advanced stuff.
More Control With Google Discover
Another crowd-pleaser update is the level of control you have over what you see.
In the bottom right of each card, you’ll find a Control icon. When tapped on, it lets you indicate whether you want to see more or less of a particular kind of content.
Discover on the Homepage
Until now, Discover was only available on Google’s mobile apps.
But in its announcement, Google also revealed that Discover will be coming to all google.com mobile browsers, making it easier than ever for users to interact with their feeds.
Optimizing for Google Discover
With the Google Discover feed, you have more options to use it as part of your SEO. Your Google discover SEO strategy must first include your website being verified and indexed in Google Search Console and your content passes the Google News Standards. Having evergreen content is one of the most important Google discover SEO tactics, as it is widespread knowledge that Google favors such. All-in-all, your content should have the following in order to be optimized for Google Discover:
- SEO content – top quality and evergreen content is key!
- Optimized AMP Pages – since Google Discover is only available on mobile, you want to have AMP pages
- Avoid over-optimization – there is no structured data markup to appear in Google Discover. Therefore keeping authentic content that caters to user search queries gives a better chance to being featured in the Google feed.
Google Discover FAQ:
1. Is there a Google Discover App?
Though not its own app, Google Discover appears on the Google app.
You will not need to download a separate Google Discover app; rather, if you have the Google app on your mobile device you will have access to Discover. On mobile devices, the Discover feed will also display on Google’s homepage in your browser.
2. Is there a desktop version of Discover?
No. At this time, Discover on Google is not available on desktop.
Google has not yet released on any information on whether it plans to bring its Discover feed to desktop.
3. What’s the difference between Google Discover and Google News?
Google Discover is not a fast-track way to get onto Google News. The only prerequisite to getting on Google Discover is that your pages are indexed by Google and meet all of the Google News requirements.
While that may sound like it’s a way to get into Google News, it’s not. Some articles have been accepted by Google Discover and denied by Google News.
It’s best to consider Google Discover as a step toward getting closer to Google News, but the two are not interchangeable.
4. Are there ads on Google Discover?
Yes. Google started monetizing Discover in May 2019 by introducing Discovery Ads.
This advertising format uses an image carousel that can be featured on Google Discover, YouTube, and even Gmail (Promotions and Social tabs).
5. How do I appear on Google Discover?
Since there is no structured data markup to make your content appear on Google Discover, it all comes down to how well your overall content is optimized. Is your site verified and indexed in Google Search Console? Do you have plenty of evergreen content? Are you utilizing AMP pages? If so, then check your GSC reports. If you have the option to check Google Discover, then it’s possible your content made it to the Google feed!
Though Google Feed may have flown slightly under the radar, I think it’s safe to say that won’t be the case with Discover.
Google is putting more emphasis on this latest incarnation and the opportunities it offers searchers. For marketers trying to get ahead, getting fully familiar with Discover is a must.