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How to Optimize Your Content for Google Discover

Ibrahim Elsherbiny
I have been working within the SEO industry for 12 years now (since 2007). Today I run my own SEO Software known as SimilarContent. I help teach people SEO, as well as connect folks who need SEO services with expert consultants

You can generate a decent amount of traffic from getting featured on Google Discover.

If you’re a business owner or part of a brand, it’s time to pay closer attention to the quality of the content you publish and the audience you’re targeting.

For most businesses and marketers, Google Discover is an afterthought. Some aren’t even considering it as an integral part of their digital marketing strategy.

On the other hand, some smart online marketers are leveraging Google Discover to drive traffic, generate leads, and grow sales.

They first start by optimizing their content to ensure it can rank using tools like SimilarContent — a ranking predictor.

How do you rank for a competitive keyword like “Lead generation examples”? Well, it can be hard if you don’t optimize your content better than your competitors.

For example, I was curious to see why Alexa.com is ranking for the keyword above at the top of the organic search. Although Alexa is an authority website, their post was recently published.

lead gen

Curious to know how Alexa dominated other big sites including Entrepreneur.com, I ran the post on Similar Content “Content Optimizer” and was surprised. Why?

The content is Optimized to rank. The content team behind Alexa’s blog must be smart!

optimized

The truth be told, Google Discover can be a great source of traffic for your business. You can use it to improve your brand a lot quicker.

Through the “Discover” portal, you can easily conduct searches faster and find interesting topics.

But more than that, you can find exactly what you’re looking for without having to perform a search.

Why? Because ‘Discover’ is a constituent of the Google search engine.

Therefore, it makes use of your search history to serve you related information you might be interested in.

What is Google Discover?

Google discover

Google Discover is an improved Google Feed that delivers the most accurate information to search users based on their search history.

It recommends relevant information before you even start searching.

In other words, you’ll discover exciting subjects and topics even without inputting a keyword in the search box.

Marketers can also run ads on Google Discover. Here are some examples of ‘Discover’ ads on mobile.

ads

As an AI-driven content recommendation tool, Google Discover is included in the Google Search app.

And there’s a huge correlation between the data on your Google Search Console with the recommended content.

Google search engine has evolved in recent years. It used to be about queries, backlinks, and site authority.

These factors are still important, but organic traffic is no longer all about those.

Google is now taking the Artificial Intelligence approach of serving users with the ‘intent’ behind the queries they’re searching for.

This new trend is impacting content publishers, the SEO industry in general, and website owners.

Machine learning is one of the latest technologies that’s used to harvest data about users’ behaviors.

The idea is to learn patterns from this data and to recommend/suggest relevant content the user wants — as quickly as possible.

Google Discover ‘Interests”

More than 800 million users are actively using Google Discover, so it’s a welcomed feature on the search.

Google Discover function in a similar manner as social media feed.

The former can project closely-tied information, giving the users the chance to follow different categories — based on their interests.

Some of the major interests that Google Discover mines are:

  • Music
  • Marketing
  • Sports
  • Animals
  • Industry News
  • Entertainment

‘Discover’ isn’t an independent feature in Google search.

Rather, it complements the search components — and relies heavily on the user’s interaction with the Search.

‘Discover’ is designed to improve user experience and make it as personalized as possible.

Beyond making decisions from users’ preferences according to the recent searches, you can easily customize and enhance your interests. If you like, you can follow the topics you’re most interested in.

If you’ve always wanted to get personalized suggestions from Google, it’s now easier than ever with Google Discover.

Because it’s pretty easy for Google to track your browsing habits and use your past data to deliver fresh, engaging, useful, and interesting content to you.

Google also prioritizes mobile searches more than Desktop. That’s why it displays the topics that are most relevant to users as cards on the users’ mobile devices.

The card will then sync with the page; the source of the Discover content.

When optimizing your content to be visible in the Google Discover section of organic search, you have to utilize all media formats (e.g., text, video, image) to deliver the right information.

Users who want to stay connected within their interests, and don’t want to bother their heads with inputting the exact query in the search bar, can benefit a lot from the Google Discover feature.

‘Discover’ lets you take a sneak peek into the realms of Google’s AI — since the content suggested is usually reliant on your specific interests, which you didn’t indicate with your query.

It’s now left for Google to deduce your interests — based on your search history.

Can You Optimize Content for Google Discover?

There are cases when Google Discover generated a lot of clicks than the ‘main’ Google search. According to Digiday, publishers are seeing significant results from Discover.

Considering how fast ‘Discover’ studies and understands user habits by learning from their browsing history and interactions, the major concern right now is whether or not Google Discover is most ideal for established businesses and successful individuals — or can it work for the little guys out there?

So let’s discuss the best ways you can optimize your content for Google Discover —  whether big or small.

Many of the traditional SEO rules still matter when optimizing content to show up in Discover.

That means if you’re optimized for organic search, you’re heading in the right track to being discovered, too!

How to Show Up in Google Discover

If you’re ready to get discovered, this section will go into the various ways you can do it. Let’s dive right in…

1). Create an Entity in the Google Knowledge Graph or Set Up a Google My Business Account

Do you want Discover to easily recognize your interests and assign topical relevance?

Then you need to add entities in the Google Knowledge Graph.

You must create this early on, so you can start getting traction in no time. Here’s an example from WWE’s knowledge graph listing:

graph

Are you listed and already showing up on the Google Knowledge Graph? Well, it’s either you’re there or not.

If you’re not in the graph already, then it may be harder for your content about your company or product to appear in Discover.

So when you start using the graph, one of the things to keep in mind is curating your presence on Google My Business.

There should be a relationship between the brand and the founder or owner. Hence, when you search for the business owner, the brand should certainly appear on ‘Discover.’

As an example, when you search for Neil Patel, he shows up also for his brand in the Graph:

graph

So you must curate your presence on Google My Business, from within the graph.

2). Create Trustworthy Pages

Can your content and pages be trusted? The issue of trust in online marketing is a serious one — because it’s a virtual world out there.

You’ll likely never meet the majority of your readers/site users in person.

As a result, there’s a need for trust. You need to establish it with your users by making your site secure. How?

Simply switch to the HTTPS certificate. If you haven’t already done that, it’s the first thing to do.

https

If HTTPS is absent in your URLs, it’d send a red flag to your visitors. More importantly, Google has stated that HTTPS is an important ranking signal.

So if any of your content pages isn’t secure, for example, an image file that lives on an unsecured page, it could trigger the algorithm to view your whole site as insecure, which could affect your page rankings.

Another way to build trust with users on your website is to add an ‘About’ page as well as adding author bylines at the end or beginning of your content.

You want users to be able to visit your ‘About’ page and find information about you, contact information, brand story, links to social media channels, information about your website, and a lot more.

Any honest information about you will get the reader to know you better and boost your site’s credibility.

Everything you do on and outside of your website to build credibility with users is essential because Google has a quality rating guideline — a resource that stipulates what they expect of your website — to serve the user better.

The E-A-T encompasses all that Google’s quality rater guidelines have.

Google EAT

If your content pages are written by an expert in the field, who has gained some authority, and have built trust over a period, then Google will reward you with better rankings and displays in Google Discover.

3). Create Engaging Videos

Google Discover will showcase your content more often and make it more accessible to searchers if it’s interactive (e.g., videos).

Yes, Discover tends to focus on visual content — so if you’ve got that on your pages, your chances of driving additional traffic from ‘Discover’ is huge.

Therefore, it makes sense to create a variety of videos (e.g., case study videos, how-to videos, interview videos, behind-the-scenes video) that will help your target market in meeting their needs.

Applied Fitness Solutions utilizes success story videos to build trust with users. This approach has enabled the company to attract new leads and clients.

video

You can even find a blog post that’s generated a lot of attention — then create videos on that topic.

Since the post has received tremendous ‘shares’ on social media, and Google is also serving it, video content on that same/similar topic could get additional clicks from ‘Discover.’

Given that Google built its search algorithm to understand and serve users better, a good way to get results is by improving website engagement with your video content.

This technique and approach may be the easiest way to dominate Google Discover.

You can’t fail with video marketing. Your audience will love it, after all, according to HubSpot, 54% of customers prefer to watch more videos from brands they support than other types of content.

video

This could be one of the reasons why Google is ranking YouTube videos in the organic search a lot more today.

Even though the company also owns the video-sharing site, the bottom line is to serve users with video because that’s what they want to see.

So the more engaging and interesting videos you create, the better you’ll get ‘discovered’ by users.

4). Adhere to Google’s Content Policies

This is a no-brainer. Google has confirmed that if you want to get more visibility in the ‘Discover’, you must abide by their content policies.

There are two aspects of Google guidelines:

  • Search Quality Rating
  • Needs Met (NM) Ratings

Search Quality Rating deals with Page Quality (PQ), while the NM is all about creating intentional content for the users.

As a rule of thumb, make sure that any content you publish is optimized per the guidelines.

More so, optimize for Google News — as this would increase your chances of showing up in Google Discover.

Yes, your content may not appear on Google News, which isn’t the point anyway.

What it means is that if Google Discover picks your content and finds it to be compliant with the content policies; your content could then appear in Google News.

5). Get Your Pages Indexed on Google 

This might seem like a basic idea, but did you know that a lot of marketers don’t even index their new pages?

After publishing their content, they don’t bother to ‘invite’ Google spider to crawl and index it. How sad?

The first step to getting ‘Discovered’ is to index your page. Can Google crawl your most important pages? Are your pages easy to crawl?

Remember you’re assigned a crawl budget — so this must be optimized — otherwise, Google will start to ignore your website.

In addition to getting your new pages indexed, don’t forget to update your evergreen topics and re-index them. This technique could bring additional traffic to your website.

For example, if you wrote an article about “best places to watch birds,” then you should also update an evergreen post you published a while ago about “best binoculars for watching birds.”

Bird watchers who are looking for the best spots to watch birds might also be interested in getting Binoculars and other gears.

So, if this appears on Google Discover, that’s additional traffic for your business.

Also, don’t forget to add an XML sitemap of all your pages to Google Search Console. Do everything you can to make your pages a ‘home’ for search spiders.

sitemap

When it comes to indexing your pages, don’t just rely on the Google Search Console.

You should also get the word out by sharing your new content page on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and pinning a corresponding pin to Pinterest.

Social bookmarking sites like Digg still works — you should submit your page URL there. Send as many signals as you can to Google.

This may not push your rankings to the top, but it’ll sustain your rankings when you eventually rank.

Also, with many signals coming from trusted sites, it’s easier to get seen on Google Discover.

6). Create Compelling and Useful Content 

Google Discover is programmed to serve content that’s useful and compelling. Content that users can get value from.

That means if your current content is as generic and unhelpful as the majority of content out there, you’ll not be picked by Google Discover.

So whether your content is old or new, make sure it’s of the best quality: well-formatted, useful, interesting, helpful, and actionable.

This type of content is what gets shared on social media.

When people search for the latest entertainment news, they also have new hobbies they’re looking to fine tune.

Perhaps they want to learn about new skills or places to visit, and more. These are important topics they crave to discover. It all begins with infusing a lot of value in your content.

The idea of creating evergreen content, letting it sit for years, without revising it with new information is an old practice.

Today, it’s important to revisit your evergreen topics to make sure they’re still useful, well-formatted, and easy to implement.

Keeping track of your evergreen pages is important. You can use Botify and other third-party tools to efficiently group these pages so you can work on them later.

As you update your evergreen content and create new content that truly helps the users, you’re making it easier for Google Discover to pick your page and serve it to the audience — even when they’re searching for something slightly different.

7). Optimize for Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) is all about improving the user experience of your website.

Google has confirmed that improved user experience is one of the most important ranking factors — hence, Google developers are passionate about optimizing for AMP, if you want to make your mobile-sites insanely fast.

When your page loads faster, it’s going to impact the user experience. In turn, this will increase user satisfaction.

Conversely, a slow-loading mobile site will negatively affect your search ranking and hinder your pages from getting picked by Google Discover.

This is also a fundamental reason why people abandon your website to go check out another competitor.

The Discover report feature that’s available on the Google Search Console (GSC) gives you the best comparison options for AMP and non-AMP data.

From here, it’s easy to effectively measure the AMP and non-AMP data, respectively.

At the end of the day, you’re optimizing your website to properly render on mobile devices — given how much positive impact it’d have on your user experience and site speed.

When these two criteria are met, getting picked by Google Discover is a lot easier.

8). Improve Your Content Organization

It’s hard to organize and optimize content in a way the users want. Worse, if users don’t understand your page, Google won’t either. Why?

Because Google follows users; it uses its search history, on-site data, and other signals to determine where a particular page should rank for its topic (no longer keywords).

The best way to organize and optimize your content for the Google Discover tool is by leveraging Similar Content — a Ranking Predictor and Content Optimization tool.

similarcontent

With this tool, you can discover the right keywords to optimize for, the difficulty level, the best variations of that seed keyword, and actually predict your ranking.

I call this the ‘semantic content organization.’ 

When you create content with this type of data, you help Google collect better data about your pages, and you’re organizing pages the exact way Google has stipulated in its quality rater guidelines.

You’re also optimizing for RankBrain. How? Because you’re no longer wholly concerned about keywords, but the overall topics of the page.

rankbrain

Machine Learning uses data to make decisions. It’s a ‘machine’ not human. So there’s no sentiments or assumptions.

With proper organization of your pages, you’re giving the machine a straightforward pattern to tour — and since the Machine Learning is hungry for data, the rich data you’ve provided in your content after analyzing the page can help Google Discover to rank your pages.

9). Use High-Quality Images  

Visual marketing is not for the future, it’s for the ‘now.’

Have you noticed that image-driven portals are growing so well?

Pinterest, Instagram, even mobile devices that support HD images (i.e., high pixels) tend to sell more in the market.

After analyzing 100 million Facebook posts, the team at Canva found that posts without images generated roughly 164 shares, likes, comments, on average, while posts with an image generated an average of 372 engagements.

images

These are clear indications that online users and consumers prefer images over chunks of texts. Search engines also have dedicated platforms for images.

With Google Discover, pages with high-quality visuals show up more.

Discover isn’t only serving single images and videos, you’ll also observe they’re prioritizing pages where the image is, and giving preference to that page.

Compress your images to be at least 1,200 pixels wide.

You need a proper descriptive file name and don’t forget the alt text attribution.

Remember to add a relevant caption to your images to help users when they land on your page. Google also uses these attributes to understand your images better.

Conclusion 

Today, with Similar Content, you can predict your ranking through effective content optimization.

This tool helps you to analyze the competition, determine the keyword difficulty, find supporting LSI keywords to naturally integrate into your content, and know exactly when to rank in Google top 10 results.

Many smart businesses and digital marketers find harnessing Google Discover to be an excellent source of additional traffic to their websites.

Google Discover has refined its content cards as well as its personalization cards, to implement better intelligence.

Today, it’s all about creating relevant content that answers the user’s questions.

Especially with the BERT update, it’s either you’re meeting searcher’s needs or you don’t have a chance in the top results pages.

So, while a lot of content creators and businesses haven’t found a reason to give Google Discover a short, it’s worth it to consider optimizing your content to show up strong and increase your organic visibility.

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