Google Discover is not only changing the way users find information, but it’s changing the organic search landscape as well. The re-branded Google Feed is essentially a query-less search, providing users with results before a search query is entered. However, before diving into the implications of Google Discover’s roll out, it’s important to understand how it works.
Google Discover is the new Google Feed. If you’re unfamiliar with the original Google Feed, it’s a news feed similar to those on other social platforms. When a user is logged into their Google account and visits the mobile version of the site, Google Discover appears under the Google search bar and aims to provide users with information tailored to their personal needs and interests.
The platform uses a variety of factors, including location, device, and past search queries from a user, to give users information that Google sees as related to the user’s interests. The exception is major news articles, which are generally displayed for all users. Users can also choose to “follow” topics that interest them, making these topics appear in their feed and therefore making their feed even more personalized.
So, what implications could this have for organic search and content creation strategy moving forward?
Normally, Google views older content as less relevant when crawling sites and tends to rank stale content lower than newer content. However, with Google Discover comes the importance of evergreen content. This means that no matter when the article may have been originally published, if it’s useful for answering a user’s question or fulfills a user’s needs, the article may appear as suggested and relevant content, despite its publish date.
This means that old content is getting a fresh start. While SEO best practices still suggest that content should be refreshed before it goes stale, Google Discover brings about the implication of making content more broad when it comes to evergreen content. Topics that seem especially relevant for Google Discover are “how to’s” and travel suggestions, such as best places to eat. For example, Google might deem an article on the best places to eat in Nashville relevant for Google Discover users planning a weekend trip to Nashville, despite it being published and last updated a year ago.
Normally, Google searches aim to push content to users based on a ranking algorithm. Of course, Google displays search results that seem most relevant to a user’s query and intent. Without a query to start with, however, Google Discover must determine how to adapt its algorithm or create a new one to provide users with relevant content. This means using readily available aspects of devices, such as location and past search, to pull users into content on the web.
With the new roll out of Google Discover, and the likelihood that this new feed will gain momentum over time, comes the question of whether or not traffic coming from Google Discover channels is truly organic. Since there is no search involved, the answer may seem like an easy no. However, since Google Discover is based off past queries from the user, the answer may seem more like yes.
With this idea also comes an implication around search volume. Without a query from users, how do we measure metrics like monthly search volume to provide valuable insights into keywords and intent?
When I first noticed Google Discover, many of the articles in the feed were irrelevant to my interests. Google featured articles on the United States Postal Service, iCloud, and various public figures I had never heard of. These topics seemed to make sense since Google knew little about me and likely was pushing content that had a broad enough intent to catch the eye of many Google users.
As I started searching over time for queries that better aligned with my interests and needs, Google seemed to begin to push more relevant content at me, despite the fact that I opted out of “following” any specific topics. For example, I had previously typed in an NFL team as my search query. The next time I visited the mobile version of Google on my phone, the first topic that Google Discover displayed was the team with the match up information for their game the next Sunday. Rather than having to search again for the score of the game, the information was displayed without a search query. Already there’s a lost search query that I no longer need to search for in order to get the information I was looking for.
If you haven’t already noticed Google Discover on your mobile device, I encourage you to take a look at the content you see. Does it make sense based on your past queries, location or device? Does it make your user journey an easier experience?