The Ultimate Google Discover Optimization Guide. 12 tips on how to get more traffic

The Ultimate Google Discover Optimization Guide. 12 tips on how to get more traffic

by Gerard Kijlstra

Last updated


Google Discover is the fastest-growing traffic source for news websites. Most news websites already get more traffic from Google Discover than from Google Search and Facebook. Many publishers are not giving optimizing for Google Discover the attention it deserves because they are underestimating the amount of traffic they get out of Google Discover, as Google Analytics does not correctly track it. But even if they are aware of the amount of traffic from Google Discover, they still don’t know how to make sure to maximize the traffic from it.

The Ultimate Google Discover Optimization Guide. 12 tips on how to get more traffic

In this article, we will explain how you can see exactly how much traffic you get from Google Discover and more importantly how you can grow your traffic from Google Discover.

We will provide as many as 12 Google Discover tips and tricks to get more visitors from Google Discover.

Among other things you will learn:

1. How the algorithm behind Google Discover works.

2. Why almost everybody is underestimating the traffic they get from Google Discover.‍3. How Google Discover is more similar to Facebook than to Google Search.

4. How you can use the power of images to optimize your Google Discover traffic.

5. Which are the most important technical requirements for maximizing your Google traffic.6.Why you should not be afraid of using Clickbaity headlines.

What is Google Discover, and how does it work?

Google Discover is a personalized mobile news feed that shows stories based on the user's interest and Google Search history.To personalize your Google Discover news feed, Google uses search behavior (for example, previous searches) combined with other data from Google Chrome and Youtube about which websites you visited or which videos you watched. This way, Google Discover creates a personalized news feed with topics you are interested in.

In this way, it is similar to the Facebook Feed. But the big difference is that on Facebook, your news feed is being created based on which pages you like. In contrast, in Google Discover, your interests are distilled by Google itself from your search and browsing behaviour.

Where can I find my Google Discover Newsfeed?

The Google Discover Newsfeed is most prominently visible on Android Mobile phones, where on most phones, you just have to swipe right from the home screen to access your Google Discover Newsfeed. It is also accessible from within the Google Search app (on Android ánd iOS devices), where you can access it by clicking on the Google Discover menu item in the bottom menu. You can also find it directly in the Chrome Browser.

As it is visible in so many places, the number of people that visits their Google Discover Newsfeed is ever increasing.

How can I see the amount of traffic I get from Google Discover?

We have seen that most news publishers highly underestimate the amount of traffic they are getting from Google Discover. In our experience, 90% of news publishers are already getting more traffic from Google Discover than they get from Google Search.

The reason behind this underestimation is that Google Discover traffic is not shown clearly within Google Analytics as a separate traffic source but is counted as direct traffic. This can cause publishers to think that their direct traffic has grown a lot when, in reality, they are getting a lot of traffic from Google Discover.

So how cán you see your traffic from Google Discover?

The best way to keep track of your Google Discover traffic is by monitoring it with your Google Search Console. Here you can see exactly how much traffic your website receives from Google Discover each day and how this compares to the traffic you have received from Google Search.

The Ultimate Google Discover Optimization Guide. 12 tips on how to get more traffic

You can also see per article how many impressions it got in Google Discover and how many clicks each article got in Google Discover. This data can help to see which articles had the best click-through rate. Later in this article, we will show you how you can increase this click-through rate to get more traffic from Google Discover

12 tips & tricks to grow your Google Discover traffic

1. Optimize your headlines, don't be afraid of clickbait

People similarly use the Google Discover feed as they use Facebook's news feed. One of the easiest ways to get more Google Discover traffic is to write catchy headlines that make people click. People are scrolling through their Google Discover feed with one hand and are deciding in a split second if they will click on the article or not.

It is stated clearly in Google's Publishers policies that Publishers should stay away from clickbait. So as a publisher, you should prevent clickbait headlines that are sensational while not covering the article's content, but don't let your fear of clickbait stand in the way of writing catchy headlines that make people want to click on your headline. Research shows that somewhat clickbaity headlines perform way better in Google Discover than more dry factual headlines. In this sense, Google Discover is similar to Facebook. So take your time to write a compelling headline that really sells the article.The basic rules for writing well-performing headlines are:Try to generate curiosity with your headlines, don't give all the information about the article away in your headline.Put some excitement and emotion in your headlines. Research shows that this triggers people to click on it. You can do this, for example, by using strong and emotional words.‍An A/B headline testing feature in your CMS(like Newsifier has) can help you test different headlines simultaneously and get a better understanding of which headlines work better than others.

2. Adhere to Google's News policy. Stay away from negative content

While it is always a good idea to experiment with your headlines and content, it is important to always adhere to Google's News policy.You can read the whole policy here.

Some key takeaways are that you should stay away from misleading content, sexually explicit content, and hateful content. Google describes misleading content as follows "We don't allow preview content that misleads users to engage with it by promising a topic or story that isn't reflected in the underlying content". So also take this into account when writing headlines. Write compelling headlines but don't be deceiving.

Research from Google Discover expert John Shehata has also shown that content with an explicit negative sentiment also ranks really bad in Google Discover.

The Ultimate Google Discover Optimization Guide. 12 tips on how to get more traffic

3. Use exciting and high-quality images that make people click

One of the most important elements in your Google Discover success is image selection, but this rarely gets the attention it deserves. A compelling and high-quality image with your article can make all the difference in an article’s success on Google Discover.

So which images work the best on Google Discover?

As goes for headlines, also images need to draw immediate attention. Remember, your potential reader will decide within a split second if he will click on a story in his Google Discover Newsfeed, so stay away from boring stock images but use images that incite excitement and emotion.

Some tips and tricks are to:

  • Use high-quality images. The smallest side of the featured image should be at least 1.200 px
  • Use images with people on them instead of objects. It turns out that when we see other humans in images, this will increase Click Through rate. This works even better when the person on the images is looking at the camera and the person has a strong emotion on his face.
  • Pro tip: Edit images to make them stand out. As most publishers don’t edit the images they use with their articles, this can really help make your article stand out and spark curiosity.You can, for example, add a sticker on top of the image or a label with text.

Below we show you an example of the difference a compelling, exciting image can make versus a more boring image. The image below was used with an article about the falling price of Bitcoin at that moment.

The Ultimate Google Discover Optimization Guide. 12 tips on how to get more traffic

The image shows emotion and stands out because it has been edited with a Bitcoin logo. The article had a really high click-through rate of 21 percent on Google Discover. This means that of every 100 people that saw the article in their Google Discover feed, 21 clicked on it. In total, this article received 42.000 visitors from Google Discover.

The image below is from an article from the same website.

The Ultimate Google Discover Optimization Guide. 12 tips on how to get more traffic

The image is a somewhat dull stock image that does not incite any emotion or excitement and is not standing out. This article only had a click-through rate of 3 percent on Google Discover. So of every 100 people who saw the article, only 3 people clicked on it.

So start to put more effort into using the right images for your articles.

4. Use the Max Image preview tag to maximize the visibility of your images in the Google Discover feed

Google itself just published a new case study, demonstrating that utilizing the Max Image Preview tag can result in as much as a 333% boost in clicks. This tag is simple to include on a website.

Google recommends including a meta tag called Max Image Preview to improve click-through rates when Google displays a site in Google Discover.

The Max Image Preview meta tag indicates to Google what size picture to display in the preview when an article of the website is shown in the Discover news feed.

So you can use the Max image preview tag to instruct Google to display the largest image on the page. When shown in Google Discover, large pictures help the article stand out more and help increase the CTR of the article in Google Discover. So by including this Meta tag, you make sure always to show a big picture next to your article in the Google Discover feed, which is a perfect way to get more traffic from Google Discover.

Here you can read how to include this on your website.

Below you can see the difference between a Google Discover story where there is a big image (left) and one where there is a small image (right).

The Ultimate Google Discover Optimization Guide. 12 tips on how to get more traffic

5. Google Discover loves fast pages. Optimize loading speed.

One of the clearest ranking factors for Google Discover and Google Search is page speed. Google always prioritizes fast pages when deciding which pages to show in Google Discover.

An excellent way to increase loading speed is to have AMP versions of all your articles. If you don’t use AMP on your website, it can be good to measure the page speed of your page by pasting an article URL in this Google Pagespeed tool to see exactly how you can improve your page speed.

6. Transparency is key. The importance of writers bio’s and the about us page (NESS)

Another important part of the Google News Policy is transparency. It is really important for Google that publishers show clearly who is behind the website and give extensive information about the authors of articles. This way, Google wants to prevent fake news.

So make sure you write an extensive About Us page giving information about the company and network behind the content. Also, writing comprehensive bio pages for every author can help in this. And don’t forget to have a contact page.

7. Experiment with different content formats. Articles with lists work really well

Research shows that articles containing lists perform really well in Google Discover. So articles like ‘5 ways to write better headlines'.

It can also be interesting to experiment with Google Web Stories. Because not many publishers are using these Web Stories yet and Google is also displaying them in a dedicated carousel in Google Discover, these web stories can be interesting to attract quite a lot of traffic from Google Discover. You can make your own web stories easily via this tool.

Also, articles with video in them tend to perform well in Google Discover, especially around live events.

8. Refresh your evergreen content to get Google Discover traction (NESS)

When you have evergreen content (content that is timeless and continues to generate traffic over a long time) on your website, you must keep refreshing it to make sure the content stays relevant and up to date. We have seen a lot of examples of evergreen content that was generating a lot of traffic from Google Discover right after it was updated.

9. Why newsletters and web push help to get Google Discover traffic

The more people visit your website the higher chance Google will show them your articles in Google Discover. And because they see your brand more often, they will be more likely to click on your story in Google Discover.There is a strong correlation between visits to a website and that website’s articles showing up in Google Discover. Google tends to show articles of websites people have visited before in their Google Discover news feed.

10. How Facebook & Twitter can grow your Google Discover traffic

There is a strong correlation between the likes, shares, and comments an article gets on Facebook and Twitter the article’s success on Google Discover. So make sure you also try to maximize the engagement of your posts on these social networks, as it will also increase the traffic you will get from Google Discover.

11. Make your visitors interact with your content

We have found a relation between the number of comments on an article and the article’s success on Google Discover. So it is important to try to generate as much interaction with your content as possible.

12. Add your website to the Google Publisher Center

It is not an official requirement from Google itself, but we have seen with multiple clients that they were starting to get Google Discover traffic from the moment they added their website to the Publisher center.

We hope you have learned a lot about Google Discover and how you can optimize your website and content to maximize your traffic from this traffic source.


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