Google updated their documentation for Google Discover to clarify why websites may lose traffic from Discover.
Discover is a personalized feed of content on topics related to user interests. These topics may be chosen from a search history.
Perhaps because of that, Discover is officially a feature of Google Search.
So, for example, if someone searches for baking recipes their Google Discover feed may begin showing content related to that topic.
Google tends to show recently published articles on certain topics. If Google detects WordPress as user’s interest then that may trigger the latest news about WordPress to begin showing in Google.
Unlike keyword based Search, there is no way to optimize to be shown in Discover.
There are ways to optimize a website to be compatible for Discover.
But there is no way to optimize a website to increase traffic from Discover.
The only way to encourage more traffic from Discover is through the Discover Follow feature.
The Follow feature is a way for users to select publications they enjoy to show up within the Follow section of Discover.
Google Discover traffic is fantastic when it happens.
But it’s not a good idea to build a business model around Discover traffic and become dependent on it because Discover traffic is unreliable.
Google’s new documentation lists three reasons why Discover traffic changes:
Updates to Google Search
There are different kinds of topics. Some topics are consistently the subject of news reports (local events, software, science). Some topics are seasonal (turkey recipes, for example).
And some topics are of general interest, rising and falling unpredictably.
Google’s new documentation states that a person’s interest in a topic may wane, causing Google to show less articles on that topic, which in turn results in less traffic to the publisher.
Google says that the types of content shown in Discover are subject to change. As with regular search, the changes are meant to surface the content people are interested in.
The new documentation states:
“Discover regularly shows content including but not limited to sports, health, entertainment, and lifestyle content from across the open web.”
Google’s search algorithm updates can also affect Google Discover traffic. There are systems in place that looks for signals of usefulness and helpfulness which also play a role in determining which content is surfaced in Discover.
Google’s documentation advises:
“Because Discover is an extension of Search, updates can sometimes produce traffic changes.”
The main point of this new section is to provide guidance about the inherent instability of Discover traffic.
In my experience, if Discover traffic is important to a site, it may be useful to write fresh content on topics that are subject to change and require freshness.
But that’s not a guarantee of keeping Discover traffic surging to a website because there are three big reasons why the traffic could simply disappear.
Read Google’s new documentation:
Featured image by Shutterstock/Alex SG
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