Google’s Discover feed is, without a doubt, one of the more enigmatic organic ecosystems. Ranking on Google’s search engine results page (SERP) requires an optimization process that is at least somewhat visible. Discover, on the other hand, is a customized feed. This means that, aside from issues such as image format compatibility, the selection process is far more ethereal and holistic.
Naturally, this makes determining what works and what does not work for Google Discover somewhat intangible. Additionally, it complicates, to put it mildly, understanding the ecosystem itself.
To help me focus (at least on my own feed), I tracked and classified the content that Google showed me in my Discover feed for six months.
Here is what I discovered.
A Brief History of My Google Discover Analysis
Before we get into the meat of it, allow me to explain what I tracked (you may skip to the next H2, but I strongly advise against it).
From the beginning of February 2021 to the end of July 2021, I spent five days a week going through and categorizing every item in my Discover feed. (I did skip a few days here and there… sue me. Additionally, I am aware that I am a lunatic for doing this for six months).
An Android device was used to monitor the feed. This is critical to understand because the device is critical. While monitoring my feed, I acquired an iPhone. It became clear early on that I would have to retain my Android device for the sake of consistency. Apart from the fact that some of the results are different, the iOS format is distinct from the Android format. For instance, Google frequently included a carousel of related scores beneath YouTube videos featuring sports highlights. This is not the case on iOS.
Apart from the implications of using Android rather than iOS to track my feed, this type of analysis has two significant limitations (for the record, limitations are beneficial because they help you understand how to apply information):
1-My Discover feed, like yours, is tailored to my user profile. That is, what appears in my feed is unlikely to appear in yours unless you are both an SEO and a baseball fan.
That is not to say, however, that Google does not approach content uniformly. That is, while the specific content varies by feed, there is almost certainly a content paradigm that universally favors one type of content over another (i.e., news content over evergreen content).
2-Google Discover’s personalization-based foundation elevates it above the realm of automation. This means that I had to use my own limited judgment to classify the content in my feed for our purposes. There are numerous instances where content could have been “sliced” in numerous directions.
A good example of this is the proliferation of baseball highlight videos in my feed once baseball season began. This is classified as news content. That may sound absurd to some. For me, these videos took the place of reading a game recap. If I saw such a recap (written or otherwise) in my feed, it would clearly be news content. The content would inform me of what transpired during yesterday’s game, much like a newspaper’s sports section does. As a result, I labeled these videos as “news.” Could I have phrased it differently and referred to it as “current trends”? Yes, but I did not.
How I Divided Up My Discover Feed
Before we get into the meat of the matter, you should understand how I organized the content in my feed. Fundamentally, I divided the content in my feed into the following categories:
1-Who authored the material: Who provided the content? What type of website or platform generated the content?
I classified content sources specifically according to the source of the content:
- National Publishers on YouTube (CNN, ESPN, U.S. News, etc.)
- Significant Industrial Locations (For example, when it came to SEO content, this included Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, SERoundtable, Semrush, etc.)
- Websites with a Specific Purpose (These are smaller blogs or niche-specific sites that are not industry powerhouses.)
2-Content type: Which type of content was displayed in the feed? What type of content was Google attempting to push through my Discover feed, and in what quantity?
I classified content into the following categories:
- News Content: This is the type of content that is relevant to current events — the type of content that you would expect to see in the Top Stories carousel.
- Current Trends: While this is not breaking news, it is content about something that is currently trending or timely (such as a review of a recent movie, for example).
- Evergreen Content: This is content that would be relevant in my feed today and in five years.