Google Discover: What it is and how to get your content in

Google Discover offers users a different way to search. Actually, it’s not really search — it’s queryless discovery of content that fits your preferences and interests. It suggests new content based on your search activity and interaction with the Discover app. And it learns what you like, so it can provide even better content the next time you use it. But how can you get your content in Discover?

What is Google Discover?

Google Discover is a mobile experience that lets you discover content you didn’t even know you needed. It is a totally different search experience, meaning the searching is mostly gone. If the system learns enough about you, you can simply keep swiping to keep the fresh content flowing.

Google suggests content for a user based on your search activity and activity found on your device. It looks at web and application activity, location history and location settings. You can follow certain topics or certain entities to build up your profile and to get set limits on what Discover should uncover for you.

Discover is a smart tool that learns how you search and what you like in order to provide your with the best, or most timely content for your needs. Plus, it does that without you looking for it.

The Discover experience gets news stuff all the time. Just last month, Google added Web Stories to the feed. That’s really useful, because Web Stores are an excellent way to get eyeballs on specific types of content because of the mobile-oriented format. More on that later in this article.

Google moving from strings to things

These past couple of years, Google has been on a quest move “from strings to things” as they call it. For them, search is no longer about entering a query in a search bar resulting in a simple page with ten blue links. Today, search takes the whole world into account and even makes that world an interface.

Google Discover takes the query part out of the equation and provides you with a smart system that suggest new content based on your activity and interests. It’s a totally different way of finding and experiencing content. It relies less on text and more on attractive visuals.

The goal of Discover is to make you come into contact with new, but relevant things. Always there when you didn’t know you needed it. The system doesn’t take long to find out if you are on the lookout for something else — say, when you are planning your holiday. Your actions indicate changes and new timely and evergreen content will pop up for your reading pleasure.

The Google App has Discover fully integrated for a seamless experience

Google Discover is personal, so everyone will have their own experience with it. Discover will even take the experience you have with a topic into account. If you are just beginning to explore a topic you’ll get content for beginners. If you’re more advanced, you’ll get more advanced stuff. So there’s no way to get everyone to read the same article as not everyone is looking at it at the exact same time — or has the interest in it at the same time. But, once a reader has shown an interest in your brand or content by clicking an article you’re on your way!

How to get your content in Google Discover

Getting your content in Discover isn’t that different from regular SEO. All the basic principles apply, so practice Holistic SEO whatever you do. In general, there isn’t really anything you need to do specifically for Discover. You need to have great content, written for the right audience, plus you need to have a great website that offers a stellar user experience. Still, I’d like to highlight some things you need to keep in mind.

Make great content

Content should be the focal point for everything you do. But not just any old content, no awesome, high-quality content that answers the questions your readers might have. At Yoast, we know the value of great content — it’s one of the reasons we’ve built tools like the readability analyses.

Improve your content

The best way to get into Discover is to write better content than everyone else. Of course, if you have branded content it might be easier to get in. But if your content is about general topics and you’re up against a lot of competition, you need to focus on quality. Research your audience, your competitors, your industry and write the best possible piece on a relevant topic.

Make sure that you know what kind of questions your readers are asking and answer these in a way that is easy to understand and a pleasure to read. You could also try your hand at storytelling. Combining this with good visuals might make you stand out — not just on Discover but search as well.

As always, see what your competitors are doing. Is their content popping up in Discover? Try to find out how they did that. Did they do something special? Why do you think that that piece of content got in? Try to mimic their success — without copying, of course.

Take a look at your content. Does it have a powerful headline? Does it deliver on its promises? If you mention X in the title but never mention X in the article, it’s not going work. Be truthful, genuine and authoritative. Write great titles and avoid clickbait stuff.

Write timely stuff

Discover can uncover content at a moments notice and that also goes for news-worthy content. Post your content in a timely manner and it has a higher chance to do well in Discover. Look at trending topics or popular subjects in your niche or industry and write about those.

But it’s not just new stuff that pops up in Discover. High-quality, evergreen content can do well. Since Discover learns what you do, changes in your habit trigger new types of content. So, if you are swiping your feed and see a news item about Croatia pop up, it might make you think about going there on a holiday. If you follow up on that with a search about Croatia — or you follow the topic Croatia in Discover —, you’ll get not only the latest on that topic but also evergreen content. This is content that has proven it’s worth and keeps valuable at all times. Maybe something like the top 10 destinations in Croatia?

Improve expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness

One of the most interesting lines in the Google’s documentation on how to get your content in Discover is this:

Our automated systems surface content in Discover from sites that have many individual pages that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T). Those looking to improve E-A-T can consider some of the same questions we encourage site owners to consider for Search. While Search and Discover are different, the overall principles for E-A-T as it applies to content within them are similar.

E-A-T, of course, stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness — key factors for determining how much you can “trust” a piece of content or it’s writers. There are some industries where it is incredibly important for the author has to have the skills and background to provide information that people can rely on.

One of those industries is the medical industry, but also the financial industry and many others. These sites are called Your Money or Your Life sites — YMYL for short. These sites offer advice that can directly impact people’s lives. For these, people need to know that you are who say you are and that you have the qualifications needed.

E-A-T is not just a factor for Discover, of course, it’s an increasingly helpful for Google to weed out misleading and, sometimes, plain dangerous content from the index. For your content, you need to prove that you know what you’re talking about. Make sure that people understand why they should trust you. Let them know you are the authority on this subject!

Google collected some suggested reading on E-A-T.

Support your entities with structured data

While you don’t need to apply special pieces of Schema structured data to get your content in Google Discover, it does make sense to make sure that your Schema implementation is top notch. Whenever you are writing about something, you need to give as much information about your entities as possible.

What’s more, describing your content well also goes for what’s happening behind the scenes. If you support your entities with great structured data, search engines can use that data to get a firmer sense of what your content is about — and who wrote it. Yoast SEO has a flexible Schema implementation that helps you get the most out of it.

Make it visual

One of the most import parts of optimizing for Google Discover is the visual aspect. Discover is a visual medium. People scan a feed, swiping their way to content that looks and sounds appealing. One of the eye-catchers in Discover is the main image of your content. This is one of the first things that the eye of your reader will focus on.

Make sure that your image stands out, but keep it relevant. Use compelling, high-quality images in your content. And make sure they are large enough to appear properly in Discover. Your images need to be at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting. Don’t worry, Yoast SEO adds this setting automatically for you.

Of course, this also goes for video. If you have a great video on a topic, add it to the content. As video is getting more important by the day, having a way to make high-quality video’s will pay dividends. Now, you don’t need a million dollar set-up but make sure that your video content looks professional. Make them engaging!

Improve your site

As always, there’s not one thing that get’s your content listed quickly. Producing awesome content comes first, of course, but there’s a lot of other things to improve as well. If you’re aiming for Discover traffic, make sure that your site is perfectly usable on mobile. It has to offer an awesome user experience, plus it has to load quickly. More on that in our Mobile SEO ultimate guide.

Try Google Web Stories

Discover is all about mobile. It’s the ultimate stream of content that helps you find whatever you weren’t thinking about at that moment. To reach these users, you have a new tool at your disposal: Web Stories. A Web Story is mobile visual storytelling at its best. Its Google’s take on the social media story format you all know from Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. But, this is open, findable in search — and in Google Discover.

Web Stories are a great fit for Discover. The snackable, mobile-oriented stories are easy to discover and quick to swipe through. Building stories for your content might get you an easy way in the Discover feed. They are easy to build and quite fun too. Try it!

Web Stories get their own spot in Google Discover

Check your Discover performance in Google Search Console

Google Search Console not only helps you gain insights into how your site performs in search, but also in Discover. There’s a dedicated tab that helps you analyze the performance of your content in Discover. Here, you can find your overall traffic over a longer period of time. Also, you can dive into the traffic generated by specific posts.

Our post on Web Stories had a nice spike in views and clicks from Discover

Use these insights to learn about what your content does. Is it a straight line of continuous traffic or is it spiking? Does it return? Why do you think a specific post got a large amount of traffic on a particular day? See if you can analyze these trends and make more informed decisions about your Discover content.

Test and improve

In this article, you got a couple of insights into how Discover works and what you can do to get in. I hope these insights help you make the most of your work. One thing you need to remember is that Discover is a living, breathing thing and fully built on what you feed it. What you see is different from what your friends see. That makes it difficult to predict success. Test, experiment and fine-tune your way to success!


9 Responses to Google Discover: What it is and how to get your content in

  1. Riana Jasper
    Riana Jasper  • 3 weeks ago

    I use to update the content of my site http://skywaycabs.com/ enter all new related keywords by Google Search Engine. After read this article, attracted me to ask someting. Why my website only rank in several keyword? I’m sure it supposed rank in each spesific keyword based the keywords I wrote in my content. But it dosn’t, why?

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 weeks ago

      Hi Riana! There can be different reasons why your content isn’t ranking on specific keywords. First of all, it’s important to optimize a page for one keyword only. Other reasons that your content might not be ranking are discussed in this article by Marieke: https://yoast.com/reasons-optimized-content-doesnt-rank/

      I hope that helps :)

  2. Per-BKWine
    Per-BKWine  • 3 weeks ago

    A bit miffed by the requirement to use minimum 1200 px images since I use 1080 since quite a long time. But that’s apparently what Google requires, according to their own info: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/9046777?hl=en. Oh, well, I guess I will have to change.

    Not familiar with the “max-image-preview:large” setting, so will have to look into that. But I guess it should be OK, if it is taken care of by Yoast.

    Many thanks for bringing Google Discover to my attention.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 weeks ago

      It is, so if you use Yoast SEO you won’t need to worry about that. And you’re very welcome! Lots of luck with getting your content in there :)

  3. girirajnet
    girirajnet  • 3 weeks ago

    Thank You for the useful info.

    I had Discover option but after changing from http to https, discover option has gone (but still there in http) in the search console.

    Approx how long will take Discover coming back to https view?

    “Your images need to be at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting. Don’t worry, Yoast SEO adds this setting automatically for you.”

    I’m using 700px wide.. Will Yoast plugin optimize it?

    BTW Yoast plugin is really useful. It has helped me a lot.

    Thank You
    Giri

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hi! We don’t optimize the image for you. You have to add image in the correct format yourself. Are you sure your migration from http to https went ok?

      • girirajnet
        girirajnet  • 3 weeks ago

        Yes I’m adding 700 Px image which is suitable for my page design.

        Yes migration went OK and Yoast has optimized once I have done the changes.

        The plugin has changed the internal path from http to https automatically which was helpful.

  4. Mira
    Mira  • 4 weeks ago

    Hi, thanks for the interesting article! Where exactly do I find that tab in search console for discover?

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hi Mira, you can find the Discover tab in the Performance section on the left-hand side of Search Console. Or, you can find a link to Discover on the Search Console homepage underneath the big Performance graph you see