I Ranked 10 Articles in Google Discover  -  Here's What Worked

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I run a marketing and personal branding website called Brand Credential.

My website is a part of my thought leadership platform and side-hustle revenue streams. It’s a place where I:

  • Publish marketing and personal branding advice.
  • Test new search engine optimization (SEO) strategies for my job as the head of marketing for a technology company.
  • Practice website content creation.
  • Create a home base for my personal brand to live.

The traffic my website receives is predominately from organic Google search traffic, my newsletter, and small amounts of social media and referral traffic mixed in.

However, a new source of traffic has emerged for my site in the past six months. That new source is called Google Discover.

My Website’s Performance in Google Discover

If you are wondering what Google Discover is, I’ll explain below. First I’d like to show you the results this article is based on so I don’t bury the lede.

A line graph showing my Google Discover results. There are several spikes indicating where I had articles get featured in Discover.
This is a screenshot from Google Search Console showing my website’s Google Discover performance. Note the spikes in the bar graph that are correlated with content being featured in Google Discover. Image created by the author.
A list of articles I had featured in Discover next to their Discover traffic results. The article with the most traffic received 2523 views, and the lowest on the list received 28.
This is a screenshot from Google Search Console showing my website’s Google Discover performance for the top 9 performing articles. Each of these articles were featured in discover, and the numbers you see are Discover-only clicks and impressions. Image created by the author.

My website is averaging around 45,000 views per month across all traffic sources. To-date, I’ve received 6,200 clicks to my site from Google Discover. Discover is not the primary source of my traffic by any means, but 6,200 new visitors, potential newsletter subscribers, or customers is no joke either.

I am sure there are other people doing well with Google Discover and driving much larger numbers than this. The point I am making is that my site is proving you can drive a meaningful amount of website traffic using Google Discover, regardless of whether your site receives 100 visitors per month or 100,000.

Now that we’ve established that Google Discover can be a meaningful source of website traffic, let’s talk about what Google Discover is, and the strategies that led to the success I’ve seen.

What is Google Discover?

Announced in 2018, Google Discover is a content curation user interface that Google introduced to web browsers and the Google app.

How-To Geek summarizes Google Discover as:

…a personalized feed of content from the web that is tailored to your interests. It uses information you have already given Google, such as web activity and search queries, to personalize your feed.

As opposed to traditional Google search results, which are driven primarily based on a user’s search query, Google Discover acts more like a social media newsfeed algorithm.

Discover gives you content recommendations based on your previous activity and preferences. This content includes website landing pages, blog posts, and videos from platforms like YouTube.

A screenshot of my Google Discover feed featuring two article headlines. One headline is about the VR headset Meta Quest 3 receiving new features, and the other is about a personal branding article.
This is a screenshot of my Google Discover feed in a mobile browser. I work in marketing for a virtual reality technology company, and I read and write about personal branding. Discover surfaced content for me about these topics based on my previous web activity. Image created by the author.

Google Discover is currently available only on the Google app, and in mobile web browsers. Google is apparently testing a desktop version of Discover, which is worth monitoring.

Now that you have an idea of what Google Discover is, let’s talk about the strategies I used to get my content featured in Google Discover:

  1. I Shared My Unique Voice and and Expertise
  2. I Didn’t Focus on Keywords
  3. I Repurposed Content From Other Channels
  4. I Followed Basic On-Page SEO Best Practices
  5. I Wrote About Timely Topics

1. Focus on Your Unique Voice and Expertise

The articles Google seems to be prioritizing for discover share personal perspectives and stories, and focus less on sharing generic facts that any source could provide.

They feel like editorial content, which makes sense considering discover is a curation tool. These articles are more like “here is how I did it” and less like “here is what this.” For this type of content, the credentials of the person writing are a factor in addition to the quality of the content itself.

For example, the article topics that received attention in Google Discover for me were:

  1. Stories from my experience creating content and making money online. These articles shared first-hand experience and tips from my own projects.
  2. Articles where I shared expertise from my career as a marketing executive. Examples include articles where I recommended books from other marketing thought leaders, or gave personal branding advice based on my experience helping business executives build their personal brands.
  3. In-depth case studies. Since I operate in the marketing niche, my case studies focus on brand and marketing strategy analysis. My case studies go beyond generic observations, and bake in my personal takes and experience. For example, my Air Jordan case study pictured in the Google Discover results above includes a mention of that fact that I’ve always personally liked Air Jordan brand shoes. My marketing strategy case studies on Home Depot and Uniqlo include commentary from my observations while shopping in those stores.

The through-line with these content categories that I am seeing success with in Google Discover is that they are based on my unique perspective. The same writer or marketing professional could write these same articles, but they would be different because of that individual’s expertise.

Someone with more expertise than I have could likely write a better article, and perhaps achieve better Google Discover results. However, I think it would be challenging to replicate these results for someone without the expertise those articles are based on.

A parallel can be found in the travel blogging niche. Google seems to be prioritizing travel blog posts containing first-hand accounts of people’s travels, personal recommendations, and their own travel photos.

Wiki-style blogs that anyone could write, and in which it is obvious someone has not actually visited a location, are not being as favored in comparison.

How Google Discover is Following EEAT

The examples above suggest Google is prioritizing first-person perspectives in its Google Discover content.

This is in line with the way Google seems to be evaluating the quality of its organic search results via its EEAT Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.

Infographic from Moz defining the 4 parts of the EEAT acronym.
This infographic from Moz outlines Google’s EEAT search quality assessment guidelines.

EEAT is an acronym standing for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. It is not an actual factor that Google factors into search rankings. Rather, it is a rubric by which the Google team assesses its search results, gut-checking whether or not the Google search algorithm is rewarding the type of content Google wants to prioritize.

Based on EEATT, the content Google wants to prioritize is of an increasingly-first-person nature. Google wants to share content that is validated by real experience and unique knowledge.

This is great timing, as one of my predictions for the way artificial intelligence (AI) will impact the internet is the proliferation of AI-generated content. I believe that content created by top creators based on their unique voice will stand out and perform well among the sea of half-decent AI-generated content that Google search and social media websites are becoming filled with.

For example, the average quality of blog posts, website landing pages, social media videos, and even stock imagery is going to rise because of the decent baseline of content quality that AI tools can create out of the box. ChatGPT writes half-decent, (mostly) grammatically correct written content, for example.

Google seems to agree that unique perspectives will, and should, stand out in this environment. This is not just true for the way it is ranking content in search results.

A correlation you can identify from the small sample of my Google Discover-featured content is that content based on a unique, first-person perspective has a better chance of being rewarded with a Google Discover feature.

Here are tangible ways you can give your content an authoritative, first-person perspective:

  1. Share personal examples. The more detailed the better. For example, in my article about book publishing, I included screenshots of my process using Amazon Kindle’s book publishing tools and walked people through the process of self-publishing a book in detail.
  2. Add an author system to your blog. Many blogs have smart categories built in, or that can be added, for things like the publishing date of the article, the article category, and the author. Even if you are the only writer on your blog, it’s a good way to demonstrate to Google that there is a real, credible human behind the content on your website.
  3. Add an “about” page or author page to your website.
  4. Include a brief “about” page or author page at the bottom of your articles. Link this section to your about page every time you include it.
  5. Add your own photos and videos. Better yet if it is actually you in some of the photos. This gives them a personal touch and proves authenticity.

2. I Didn’t Focus on Keywords

No keywords? What?!

Yep. As cringy as it is to say as someone who works in SEO as a part of their profession, I did not do keyword research or focus on keywords whatsoever for these articles.

For example, let’s look at my article about the lessons I learned writing my first two books. I wrote headlines and sub headlines that I liked, and that felt like they were written in my own voice. Had I been trying to rank this article in Google, I would have found the most popular phrases people use to search for this topic, and used that data to inform my headings and subheadings—no matter how clunky they looked or sounded.

I am not saying avoid keyword research for articles you are trying to get featured in discover. That could open up further traffic opportunities for your content post-Discover feature.

The point I am making is there seems to be a different set of rules that Google is playing by when it comes to discover.

I’ve written tons of blog posts where I worked to seamlessly integrate clunky long-tail keywords throughout the copy.

Not doing so for these articles not only led to a discover feature, but it also felt refreshing for a change being able to just write and not worry about SEO best practices.

3. I Repurposed Content From Other Channels

I am not suggesting this tip because Google Discover likes content from other channels. I am suggesting it because your other content may be a great pipeline of pre-written content that Google Discover does like.

I approach channels like my Medium account and newsletter with a more personal tone than I previously approached my website content with. My website content tended to be more fact based, “here is what this is”-style content, and less storytelling.

Search engines seemed to reward that approach, so I played the game. The last few months of Google Discover data suggest that it favors a different style of content—a style you may already be creating for other channels like I am.

Of the articles I got featured in Discover, over half of them were originally published elsewhere.

I started repurposing content from other channels for my website as an experiment. For example, I take articles I publish on channels like my newsletter or Medium and publish on my website if I think my website readers would enjoy them.

These personal, story-driven pieces that I wrote for my Medium and newsletter audiences have performed well in Google Discover, and suggest that their curation process likes content that is a bit more social media-esque.

This means prioritizing a personal tone and casual writing style vs. a rigid, SEO best practice-driven style. I still followed SEO best practices, but it was secondary to the story and writing style (more on this below).

My advice for repurposing content for Google Discover:

  1. Look at your existing content on other channels. This includes X threads, LinkedIn posts and articles, Medium articles, newsletters, and YouTube videos that could be turned into blog posts. Consider reformatting this content and repurposing it for your website.
  2. As you create content for other channels, keep Google Discover and your website in the back of your mind. I am not saying change what is working on other channels to cater to Google Discover. However, looking for opportunities to write once and publish twice can go a long way. For example, I may add this article to my website to leverage it further.

4. I Followed Basic On-Page SEO Best Practices

I did not follow the usual process I would for an article I am trying to rank in Google. For example, I skipped keyword research and didn’t aim to include specific keywords in my titles or subtitles.

Despite not having a focus on SEO as much as I would writing an article for my website designed to rank in organic search results, I still followed basic on-page SEO best practices.

On-page SEO is the practice of formatting website content and blog posts in a manner that helps them to rank higher in search engine results.

I do not know how much following my basic SEO formatting routine influenced my content being featured in Discover. It might not have been a factor.

However, it clearly didn’t hurt. It also has the added benefit of giving my Google Discover-featured content a shot at living on and getting organic search traffic over time.

Here is a quick check list of the basic on-page SEO best practices I followed with these articles:

  1. My articles and my website as a whole cater to Google’s EEAT preferences. I have an author page, an author section with my photo and bio at the bottom of my posts, I primarily use custom photos and graphics instead of stock photography, and I write from first-hand experience.
  2. I format my headlines and sub headlines in a search-friendly manner. This includes breaking pages up into sections, and formatting headlines and sub headlines with a hierarchy of H1, H2, and H3 tags.
  3. I break up my sentence structure so it is not just a wall of text. I also integrate numbered and bulleted lists for readibility.
  4. I optimize my images by adding alt text, using captions, using relevant file names, and creating header images with proper sizes and aspect ratios. SEMrush recommends that blog post and landing page feature images should be 1200 or more pixels wide.
  5. My website has solid hosting and good page load speeds.

When you create content you are trying to rank in Google Discover, I do think you should take a slightly different approach than you would for an evergreen piece you are trying to rank for a specific keyword in organic search results.

However, keeping SEO in mind during your process to a degree is a worthwhile.

5. I Wrote About Timely Topics

Of the articles I had featured, it was a mix of evergreen content and content that sounds a bit more like current news. My “How to Make Money on the Internet in 2024” article is an example of the latter, with a timely “start of the year” hook that creates a sense of urgency.

I would categorize my other Discover-featured content into the bucket of trending topics, like personal branding and creating digital products. While these articles were designed to be evergreen vs. coming off as a news update, they are about topics that are currently popular across the internet.

I have seen other bloggers receiving good Google Discover results share this same tip. For example, Thomas Smith wrote this awesome guide sharing his experiences with Google Discover. He outlines how he was able to take advantage of local news and trending topics in his website’s niche.

To take advantage of this approach, consider:

  1. Writing articles about news in your niche. While this did not get featured in Discover, I wrote an article about YouTube’s new generative AI features—a significant development in the marketing industry. This is a good example of a content topic that would be considered for Google Discover.
  2. Researching trending topics on platforms like X and TikTok and writing articles about those. People are already expressing interest in these topics, which makes for good current news-style Discover content.
  3. Write articles about unique facts that make for interesting headlines that would stand out in Discover.

Final Thoughts

Having worked in SEO for over a decade, Google Discover feels like the original promise of blogging and website creation coming true:

  1. You write content that you want to write about based on your lived experience and personal expertise — the blogger’s dream!
  2. You are rewarded by Google sending people interested in that expertise to your content to learn from you and build community.
  3. You get to share commentary on your niche that gets valued for your perspective vs. judged by which keywords it optimizes for.

With Google Discover and EATT, Google is making an effort to value content that shares genuine, unique expertise over more generic content that happens to have followed SEO best practices perfectly.

This is a big development for content creators who are already creating great content with a first-person perspective on other channels.

Keep Google Discover in mind as you create new content for your website, and look for opportunities to re-purpose content from other channels that could win a feature on Discover.

To start your brand building journey, get my Brand Credential newsletter.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Justin and I write Brand Credential.

I started Brand Credential as a resource to help share expertise from my 10-year brand building journey.

I currently serve as the VP of Marketing for a tech company where I oversee all go-to-market functions. Throughout my career I've helped companies scale revenue to millions of dollars, helped executives build personal brands, and created hundreds of pieces of content since starting to write online in 2012.

As always, thank you so much for reading. If you’d like more personal branding and marketing tips, here are more ways I can help in the meantime:

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