Traffic from freemium sources intrigues publishers and moneymakers who don’t mind cashing in on affiliate networks. The problem is that such traffic is difficult to get and even more difficult to keep the bar on level.
What is Google Discover?
Google Discover is a personalized content feed that was launched in 2019 and powered by Google Feed Service. As of 2018, there were 800 million users.
Before Google Discover was released, news has been their main content, but Google decided to expand the list of available formats and topics. The user’s feed may contain sports and technical articles or cooking recipes. It all depends on users’ interests and online activity.
A great deal of the Google Discover content originates from YouTube, so you can log in via a video hosting service and get free targeted traffic on the topic. Evergreen content rules the personal recommendations feed, so typical white product or private parts enlargement videos will forever be in demand.
Google Discover’s key feature is that the service works only on mobile devices in the Google App, which is installed on all Android smartphones by default. There’s no need to download and install additional software.
In 2019, Google announced Discovery Ads – an ad campaign format that allows displaying content with the advertiser’s products integration to over 3 billion users across various Google Services.
Discovery Ads campaigns are launched via the Google Ads familiar to many publishers. These ads are focused on users who are open to new offers, unlike standard ads targeted at users interested in specific products or services.
Moneymakers often compare the service with a Yandex.Zen Recommendations Platform, but all they have in common is a personal feed, which is generated based on previously viewed content. In other respects, these are completely different products.
How do recommendation feed algorithms work?
Google Discover is a smart recommendation feed that analyzes user behavior and does well to understand which topics feature user’s interests based on SERP content interaction data.
It is worth mentioning that its algorithms are quite accurate with relevant articles and videos. The user can select interesting topics, persons, or specific products.
A personalized feed is generated based on the following data:
- User activity on Google services: search history, YouTube videos, clicks on Discover content.
- Location data. It helps algorithms to add local content to the feed.
- Algorithms consider the users’ interests in specific topics.
In Yandex.Zen, the feed is generated, among other things, based on priorities. For example, the content of the Nirvana Channel is commonly displayed at the top. In Google Discover, topics are shuffled randomly. For example, if a user is interested in football and technology, there may be five posts in the feed about football and only one post about the latest MacBook model.
Google Discover displays news feed without search requests. That is, the user can view relevant content with no need to use the search field. The option to return to the main page with Recommendations Tab creates a social network effect.
At the beginning of 2021, an SEO researcher experimented: he interacted with Google Discover for two months non-stop and made attempts to hack the algorithms of the personal feed.
Here are his findings:
- Watching mobile YouTube videos did not affect the feed, but it did affect YouTube ads.
- Watching YouTube videos on a computer has little impact on the content of the Discover feed.
- If you use Google search but don’t follow the links from SERP, it does not affect the feed content.
- Online activity via the desktop version of the website had a significant impact on the feed, unlike the mobile version.
Summarizing the results of the experiment, we can conclude that Google’s algorithms are not always predictable. For example, the author of the experiment visited Japanese news websites every day, but they did not appear in the feed. Most likely, Discover conceives that the topic is a long way off from valid interests.
Those who are going to use Google Discover should keep in mind that the feed is periodically viewed by assessors. If the traffic from the source suddenly drops down, this can be affected not only by algorithm changes but also by a fact that the priority of the website was decreased in the feed.
How to work with Google Discover?
Publishers have long been accustomed to challenges. Especially those who are constantly working with Facebook. As to Google Discover, the challenge is greater – you can’t add a website to the service directly. There is no Google Adsense form or manual verification by moderators.
To enter the personal recommendations service, you must do the following: create fine content, index pages in the search engine, and make interaction convenient for mobile users. However, even if you meet all the requirements, there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive Discover traffic on your website.
How to create a website?
Creating a website is the first step towards entering Google Discover’s list of content providers. You can use any free WordPress template, but you must check that the content is displayed correctly on mobile devices and the loading speed is fine.
Google’s Personal Recommendations Feed works on smartphones, so your website has to be mobile-friendly. Some webmasters who work with Discover use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to create instant loading webpages.
AMP significantly increases the speed of landing pages, but there are issues with ads placement. If traffic is monetized by standard teaser blocks, there will be no problems, but to use other formats, you will have to customize CMS plugins.
How to produce quality content?
To make your web pages appear in the Google Discover SERP, you need fine theme-based content. According to webmasters, two content formats work best in the service: evergreen and mainstream content.
The former case is about recipes, horoscopes, fortune-telling, and other all-time things. Mainstream content is related to politics, celebrities, showbiz and includes local or global news.
Mainstream content like ‘Celebrity revealed a dirty secret…’ is best to cash in on affiliate networks. Such news rarely appear on Discover, but may be related to white content.
How to attract search bots?
You can’t add a website to Google Discover, but you can draw search bots’ attention. Your online activity can influence the decision to add your website as a content source, but it must be cleared according to the principal quality criteria.
How to draw bots to the website?
- Add lots of unique content;
- Make posts on social networks;
- Make posts in special interests communities on social networks;
- Use SMM promotion services that allow you to purchase traffic.
Observation over Discover’s algorithms points out that the more activity user demonstrates on a specific topic that implies a website, the higher the chances that the content will appear in the personal recommendations feed.
How to track traffic?
Publishers like to update stats every other minute, but this is irrelevant with Google Discover. There’s no online data update, so there’s no point in checking it constantly.
There are several ways to track traffic from Google Discover:
- ‘Performance’ tab → Google Search Console ‘Recommendations’. It’s only available if the website received Discover traffic earlier.
- ‘Reports’ tab → ‘Standard reports’ → ‘Sources’ → ‘Recommender systems’ in Yandex.Metrica.
- Custom Google Analytics reports related to the referrer.
How to drive traffic with Google Discover?
Few would give up on free, relevant traffic, but it’s hard to get it with Google’s recommendation service. It is easier for a typical publisher to use Facebook or Google Ads, replenishing the account and driving traffic in white or gray niches.
Discover’s trick is that in some cases it can provide up to 100,000 targeted traffic for free. There are few such cases, but they do exist. Although after the article gets into the feed, it brings click-throughs for 3-4 days only.
Organic traffic may provide very good ROI, which is difficult to get when buying traffic from ad networks. And if you choose a theme-based offer and integrate it into the right content, your profit may be high.
Many moneymakers are repelled from Discover by the need to create a website, fill it with content, and do other webmaster’s stuff. But no one makes you waste your time on it. You can purchase a ready-made news showcase, so all you’ll have to do is to parse news from a variety of sources and monitor traffic.
Which niche do I choose?
There’s nothing in Discover for those who prefer to work with gray niches like an adult because erotic materials do not appear in the feed. But you can find YouTube videos on healthcare products in the SERP. It all depends on the user’s online history.
Which verticals are best for the platform?
At this point, moneymakers may ask an obvious question: “Why does no one drive traffic if any niche work?” The trick is that you need a particular approach to monetize traffic with offers from the verticals stated above. The ‘head-on’ strategy does not work because it is difficult to get traffic and the threshold is high.
But if you want to, you’ll find a way to solve the problem. For example, videos with viagra reviews are ranked high in YouTube SERP, some of them contain a link to a typical landing page.
The views are most likely driven up, but it still allows the authors to monetize the video. It may also appear in the recommendations feed of the user who was interested in men’s health products.
All you have to do is to finalize the scheme and scale up the successful case if any. Google Discover won’t work like VK, Facebook, or Telegram because it is a specific source. But this does not mean that it is impossible to receive its traffic or monetize it.
Mainstream news about celebrities like ‘The leader of the band got very old’ or ‘Celebrity shared a horrifying truth about his life’ work best in Google Discover. If the user follows the news page, he will see classic teaser showcase widgets that, upon switching to an external source, will sell certain products.
What topics are best for the content?
- Fake millionaire stories. It sounds like that: it’s impossible to make money on farming or whatever, but it’s realistic to forget about a menial job. A relevant product offer is included.
- Stories about lottery winners. There’s a selection of high-profile cases and a classic sweepstake offer.
- Gambling addiction articles. With the native ad of the most ‘reliable’ casino.
- Wow-effect materials. The classic product offers.
- Product reviews. You can generate videos according to the example above and buy social cues to promote videos with organic traffic. Or you can write articles and redirect them to YouTube if the video does not appear in the feed.
Monetizing white offers will allow you to stay on the recommendation platform long-term, but to make money off of gray verticals, you need to align with a certain strategy. First, you need to publish white content, wait for traffic, and then you can add widgets or banners with a link to the landing page.
Websites that advertise gray offers won’t last long. If the algorithms won’t manage, the assessors will ban it during the manual moderation. Therefore, you might want to have several websites with content relevant to a certain vertical.
It’s not exactly what they call the traffic arbitrage when it comes to Google Discover, but it’s worth considering as a field for experiments. Yellow articles like teaser showcases often appear in the SERP and collect targeted traffic with hardly any trouble at all.
They are monetized by the teasers from MGID, SMI2, and other websites that are better-known to publishers as ad networks. The screenshots above illustrate an actual project that consistently received traffic from Google Discover, thanks to clickbait headlines.
Google Discover Checklist
If you’ve decided to work with a Google Recommendation Platform, here’s a checklist we made to help you increase the chances of getting content into Discover’s feed. The list is long, but it all affects the performance.
- The website is optimized for mobile devices.
- Pages take no longer than 1-2 seconds to load.
- The content includes high-res pictures of at least 1,200px wide.
- Articles include provocative headlines within limits.
- Open Graph protocol is configured.
- The content covers hot topics.
- The E-A-T ranking factor is considered.
- Interest in content is fueled by social networks, messengers, and other platforms.
- There are texts and videos on the website.
Google Discover won’t work for typical publishers who are used to making idle creatives, setting up a cloak, and then damn Facebook all the time. To receive traffic from Google Discover, you need to think outside the box, monitor trends, and be down for long-term work.