What is Google Discover and what does it mean for SEO?

Blog banner

Google Discover is a personalised content discovery platform. We take a look at how it works, what kind of content gets featured and how to pay your way in.

In 2018, Google updated and rebranded its Google Feed product into a new content discovery tool, called Google Discover. With more than 800 million people using it to find new content every month, the platform is bigger than Twitter and Pinterest combined.

Google launched the platform with mobile users in mind, providing an alternative to the likes of Facebook and Twitter for browsing through content. But Google Discover also brings new opportunities for search marketers who can reach a wider audience of users who would never actively find them on Google Search

What is Google Discover?

Google Discover is Google’s latest effort to build a personalised content discovery platform for users. This breaks away from the search engine format where users actively type in a query and receive a list of relevant results. Instead, Google Discover compiles content the user has shown a previous interest in and recommends similar content it thinks they might enjoy – more along the lines of how a social media content feed works.

Animation of Google Discovery

In fact, Google will be hoping the tool provides a genuine alternative to social platforms like Facebook when it comes to content discovery. Less time spent on Facebook and Instagram means fewer ad dollars going to Google’s biggest rivals and more time spent in Discover keeps the Google Ads money rolling in.

It isn’t merely a weapon in the digital ad wars though; it’s the world’s biggest search engine ensuring it remains relevant in the current climate of content discovery. When people are actively looking for something, they instinctively turn to Google but much of users’ time online is spent passively browsing through content feeds – most of which are on social media platforms.

Google Discover provides the same experience and it has a key advantage in the data department. Social media platforms rely on engagement metrics to gauge how relevant the content in users’ feed is to them and Google Discover can do this, too, of course. But Google also has access to users’ search history data, allowing it to provide content recommendations with greater relevance and accuracy.

Why do search marketers care about it?

Google Discover opens up a new channel of organic opportunities for marketers. Google hasn’t released any user data in a while but 800 million users put it up there with the biggest social platform, in terms of user numbers. And, with more than 2.5 billion Android users around the world (as of May 2019), there is plenty of room for further growth.

Those user numbers alone should pique the interest of search marketers but this isn’t really a search platform at all. Users aren’t typing in queries; they’re scrolling through a content feed, discovering content they wouldn’t otherwise find themselves through traditional search.

In other words, Google Discover can connect brands with prospects they wouldn’t be able to reach through search alone.

Best of all, it’s the same content you use for SEO and content marketing that makes it into users’ feeds so your content investment is exactly the same. The only difference is that Google is now presenting this content to relevant audiences with an interest in your topics – and it’s doing all this for you.

What kind of content makes it into Google Discover?

Google Discover provides users with a mix of news, articles, video content, rich snippets (like sports scores) and some paid ads. The end result varies for each user because Google is providing a personalised feed of content each individual user has shown an interest in.

Google Discover personalised feed of content

For example, users who are planning their next holiday will turn to Google Search for information and likely watch some YouTube videos for a preview of what to expect in specific locations. This data feeds into Google Discover, which might deliver recent articles covering the same locations searched for in Google or YouTube and other, similar locations that could be of interest.

How can I optimise for Google Discover?

You don’t have any targeting options like keywords or location targeting to pinpoint specific users. Google is in charge of delivering content to the most relevant audiences and you have to let its algorithm take the lead.

However, there are steps you can take to make sure your content stands the best chance of being recommended to relevant users. 

  • Informational content: Make sure you’re publishing the kind of informational content Google Discover is designed to recommend.
  • Mobile-friendliness: Google Discover is a mobile platform so you have to be particularly strict about mobile optimisation.
  • Loading times: Page speed is especially important on mobile devices and you don’t want bounce rates telling Google it was a mistake to recommend your content.
  • Image optimisation: Google Discover is a visual tool and your images need to capture users’ interest while also being optimised for mobile and speed.
  • Multimedia content: By producing text and video content, you stand the best chance of maximising your potential coverage.
  • Content freshness: Google cares about the freshness and relevance of content so make sure you update content regularly.

The good news is, you should already be taking these steps as part of any decent search marketing strategy – they simply become more important if you want to tap into new audiences through Google Discover. 

Paying your way in

You can also fast-track your way through paid ads, using Discovery campaigns in Google Ads. Despite the name, these campaigns aren’t exclusive to Google Discover, as they can also place ads on the YouTube homepage, YouTube Watch Next and Gmail.

Discovery campaigns in Google Ads

The aim of Discovery campaigns is to deliver ads to users when they’re in browsing mode and open to suggestions. At this point, Discovery campaigns introduce your message by showing them in relevant placements, based on users’ interests.

Discovery campaigns can get your ads shown in Google Discover and expand your reach across other Google platforms.

Google Discover provides a channel for reaching audiences that would never search for your brand of their own accord. With Discover’s impressive monthly user numbers, this represents a big opportunity for building brand awareness from the content you’re already creating anyway.

Get noticed in Google Discover

If you need high-quality, bespoke, SEO-friendly content to help you get noticed online, we can help. Talk to our team of content marketing and SEO specialists today on 02392 830281 or [email protected].

Sally Newman profile picture
Sally Newman

An accomplished digital marketer with over six years’ experience in local SEO and content for SEO, with a proven track record of hitting KPIs. As a proactive and enthusiastic member of the team, Sally brings a fresh energy to her work that sees her manage her accounts with both logical and lateral thinking, garnering great results for her customers across a range of industries. As well as talking at local events about all things SEO, you can also find Sally travelling the world, trying new foods and enjoying time with her dog, Pedro.

More articles by Sally
Related articles
Chess pieces on a chess table

SEO GUIDE: How to win the SERPs by maximising search coverage

By Michelle Hill
6 tips for creating mobile-friendly content

6 tips for creating mobile-friendly content

By Sally Newman
Digital Marketing podcast

Podcast: How to find content ideas you probably haven’t thought of

By Marie Sinclair