What Is Google Discover and What Does It Mean for SEO?


Google has had more than a few attempts at providing a social network platform of some sort. Failure of services like Orkut, Google Friend Connect, Google Wave, Google Buzz, and the most recent one Google+ has seemingly convinced the company to take another route. Many believe that Google Discover (originally Google Feed) is the company’s take on social media feeds. It is an attempt born out of Google’s key strengths: its search engine and Android.

But what does it all mean for your company’s SEO? Are there ways to optimize for it? That’s what we are going to find out in this article.

What Is Google Discover?

If you have used Google Search on your smartphone recently, you have most certainly seen it—probably without knowing its name. It is the stream of curated content you see underneath the search bar on the homepage of the Google app, or the mobile version of Google Chrome if you use it. It resembles Twitter’s feed or Facebook’s timeline. Currently, Discover can’t be accessed from desktops (if you don’t count workarounds) as it was designed to be a mobile experience.

Discover is a highly personalized feed that proactively delivers information to you based on what Google’s automated systems think may interest you; similar to how YouTube recommends videos you might like or how any other social media suggests content to your feed. Discover even allows users to follow websites to get the latest updates from them. However, this feature is still in the experimental phase.

The keyword here is “proactive” because that is what differentiates Discover from Search. Traditionally, Google provides information to users in a reactionary manner. People submit a query term and Google presents them with the most relevant information to those queries. With Discover, Google tries to serve content to users to help them discover what matters to them, even when they are not actively looking for it.

Google planted the seed of this idea back in 2012 with a feature called Google Now. Since then, it has undergone two rebrands and name changes but the underlying functionality has remained the same.

Optimizing for Discover

Technically, you don’t have to do anything extra for your content to appear in Discover and there is no special process like there is for Google News for instance. But there are ways to increase your chances of getting featured which can have a significantly positive impact on your monthly traffic. It is safe to say that Google Discover is still not taken seriously by the majority of sites out there and because of that, it is a huge opportunity that you should not ignore.

Getting Indexed

The first step is an obvious one but we have included it for the sake of being comprehensive. Similar to search engine result pages, your online content won’t show up in Discover if your site is not in Google’s database. You can check if your site has been indexed by simply typing “site:yoursite.com” in the search bar or using the URL Inspection Tool in the Google Search Console. If you find that your site is not indexed, it is probably due to technical SEO issues that an SEO agency can resolve.

Following Discover Content Polices

The other requirement for a piece of content to be eligible for featuring in Discover is meeting its content policies. These policies encompass Google’s overall content policies plus a few extra ones specific to Discover. In addition to staying away from any content that may be considered harmful, hateful, or harassing, you also need to make sure to seriously avoid misleading content, click baits, and misrepresented sponsored content. Since Discover only surfaces articles, it is crucial that you include important information such as dates, bylines, contacts, and so on.

Optimizing for Mobile

As we said earlier, Google Discover is a mobile experience through and through. Not having a mobile-friendly website in 2022 is not an option anyway. You should meet the audience where they are and that place nowadays is mostly mobile.

Sticking to a Niche Topic

To be able to provide information that is in line with a user’s interest, Google’s automated systems first need to understand the information they are dealing with. And they do that mainly by classifying information using their algorithms. So, be as unambiguous and consistent as possible with your content and try to the best of your ability to avoid haphazard and random topics.

Following the E-A-T Concept

Ever since the massive August 2018 algorithm update, Google has been explicitly stating that it aims to promote sources that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. And if your site falls under medical, legal, or financial categories, Google takes this concept way more seriously. Discover is no different in this regard. Google simply does not want to spread misinformation, regardless of the format they are presented in.