Google’s Martin Splitt answered a question on the July 2023 Office Hours session about what to do after traffic from Google Discover traffic dries up. Martin offers quick insights into what Google Discover focuses on.
Discover is a feed of articles that users may find of interest.
Google uses signals of what a user’s interests are in order to surface content that is related to those interests. what those signals of interest are is not known.
There is no documentation detailing with specific details on what signals Google uses to determine a user’s interest.
But it’s clear to anyone who pays attention to Discover that one of the signals may be what a user searches for.
How to Get and Maintain Google Discover Traffic?
This is the question asked:
“No longer in Google Discover… What to do to come back?”
Google’s Martin Splitt answered:
“Discover is an organic feature that goes with the demand and habits of users.
So there’s no easy answer on how to bring Discover traffic back.
Generally, content that is indexed and meets our content guidelines can be included in Discover.
But …Discover traffic is hard to predict and will ebb and flow.”
Google Focuses on Demand and Habits of Users
That description of how Google Discover works is helpful because it highlights how the selection process is tied to what users want to see.
Google’s page on how to get onto Google Discover offers these hints:
Fresh and Evergreen Topics
While Google shows relevant evergreen content, the system is also looking for fresh content on particular topics that tend to need freshness.
For example, topics like sports, technology, entertainment and certain products are in a constant state of change, with new developments with newsworthy topics surfacing every day all day long.
Other topics like recipes don’t really change that much unless a chef designs a new twist on an old recipe.
“The content in Discover is automatically refreshed as new content is published, however Discover is designed to show all types of helpful content from across the web, not just newly published content.”
Write About Topics Not Keywords
A common mistake I see in the SEO industry is focusing too hard on keywords or the semantics of words and not enough on topics.
In my experience, focusing on the semantics of words is a waste of time. Focus on topics of interest.
Topics are about what’s going on in the industry and understanding what are people interested in right now.
In my opinion, focusing on topics gets the writer closer to providing what people needs and that’s what Google Discover is looking for.
The Google Discover webpage offers this:
“As part of Google Search, Discover makes use of many of the same signals and systems used by Search to determine what is helpful, people-first content.”
Signals Used by Google Discover
Once the topic is understood it’s a matter of writing the article in a way that makes is clear what the topic of the article is about.
This is where keyword-focused writers and SEOs worried about semantics lose their way.
In my actual experience, an article that ranks well is the one that focuses on the topic and communicates that topic well.
When you look at the heading outline, an outline of the heading elements used in an article, a topic-focused article will reveal headings that make it easy to know the topic, without having to read the sentences.
Looking at the heading outline is the forest-view, where you don’t see the individual trees (sentences) but the overall view.
Plan your content so that it is organized and hits each topic-beat, like a story with chapters.
Google lists the following best practices:
- “Use page titles that capture the essence of the content…
- Include compelling, high-quality images in your content…
- Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”
Google also advises against misleading titles, exaggeration, appealing to outrage, and morbid or shocking topics.
Google Discover can be a great source of traffic but it’s not consistent.
In my experience, focusing on the topic, writing well, using a properly centered and relevant image and keeping current are a great strategy for increasing the likelihood of scoring traffic from Discover.
Read more about Getting on Google Discover:
Discover and your website
Watch the Office Hours at the 7:32 minute mark:
Featured image by Shutterstock/Prostock-studio