Google Discover is your own personal, curated feed of web content that appears below the search bar. As a marketer, it provides an opportunity to surprise and delight your audience and drive qualified traffic to your site.
However, getting your content to show up in Google Discover is no easy feat. Kyle Brady, publisher, strategist and content creator, has cracked the code of Google Discover and is here to share his knowledge. Get ready to discover how you can optimize your own content and website to take advantage of this lesser-known opportunity before your competitors do.
Rich: My guest today has an interesting backstory. No, it doesn’t involve a radioactive spider bite or a super soldier serum. In 2015, he and his wife decided to ditch the daily grind and become full-time RV’ers. They bought a 16-foot trailer from the 1980s and hit the road. And this is how his content journey began.
He was introduced to blogging, vlogging, affiliate marketing, and the dream of becoming an influencer. He now realizes how cringe-worthy that sounds. Fortunately, after a few years, his focus moved to keyword research, SEO, and newsletter marketing. From 2015 to today, he’s been able to transform his blog into an industry leading consumer news site, receiving more than 3 million monthly page views.
This type of success doesn’t manifest itself from being a lone wolf. He has an amazing group of friends and mentors that raise each other up. With this core group of friends and fellow publishers, he co-founded a digital strategy agency and a publishing house. They’re able to create over 300 monthly articles that serve their internal sites and the sites of their clients.
In his spare time, he offers Google Discover consultations and content strategy sessions. He’s consulted with some of the biggest sites in the automotive and outdoor activity spaces. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. I’m excited to uncover more about Google Discover with Kyle Brady. Kyle, welcome to the podcast.
Kyle: Thanks so much for having me. That introduction was absolutely amazing. I’m going to steal it for myself, I think.
Rich: All right. Sounds good. Now, as a fellow trailer camper fan, I have to ask, what is the biggest challenge of running your business from the road?
Kyle: Oh, my gosh. It’s travel days. They take up so much time. I always underestimate how much time it will take to travel. I’ll think I’ll have four hours to plug away at work, but I’ll end up with no hours on those days. So it can be quite challenging whenever we’re moving that big trailer.
Rich: Now, are you always driving or does your wife take over some of those responsibilities?
Kyle: I’m always driving, and that’s on me. I just love the control of driving. I’m a highway rat, love to be on the interstate towing something.
Rich: All right. Let’s go over the topic that we’re going to talk about today. And Google Discover, and just the basics, like not everybody knows what Google Discover is. So can you let us know what it is?
Kyle: Totally. So Google Discover operates solely on mobile devices. This is going to be your tablets and your smartphones. On Android, it’s a much more organic experience than on Apple, but you can experience Google Discover on both of those. On Android if you’re using Google to search, you’re going to be presented with cards underneath them. Those cards are just links to articles with the title and image. And the same process on Apple. If you go to the Google app where you’re searching, you will be presented those cards as well. So it’s similar to search optimization, but it’s a much more different thing as far as what gets served up in those Google Discover articles that is unique to each person.
Rich: So what kind of volume or traffic are we talking about here? Because as I was prepping for today’s show, I’m an iPhone user, I pulled up my iPhone. I don’t have Google search as an app on my phone, but I certainly do use the Google search. So when I went to the Google homepage, I saw some of these Google Discover articles, got sucked into, “Why the MCU is being slowly destroyed by the post credit scenes.” That was a whole hole right there. So what are we talking about? Like, do people actually click on these links that they see down there when they were thinking that they were going to go do a Google search?
Kyle: This is the amazing thing about Google. As we all know, Google knows so much about each and every one of us. And I feel like Discover, the articles that are presented to, I know me and from my coworkers and friends, the articles that they’re served up, it’s almost like Google can anticipate what we want to click before we even know what it is. So the experience is different for each person on Google Discover. I can’t help but click in multiple times a day because there are things I need to know, whether it’s about a reality TV show or Bob Dylan’s latest tour. Things I would never search but are served up to me because the algorithm somehow instinctively knows what I like.
Rich: And anticipates that. So you kind of answered my next question on how does Google decide what to show searchers? You mentioned that a lot of it may be based on some of our previous search history. Are there any other factors beyond that?
Kyle: Search history seems to be the number one driver whenever I search new things. And I see that new articles in that niche get served up. But also, I think if there are websites – if you’re a Chrome user, that is – if there are websites that you just go to on a regular basis, Google’s web will link what articles people who also visit that are interested in as well. So search, and just your patterns on the web, whether it’s even outside of search, just where you’re giving that direct traffic to are the two biggest things. But then also your GPS. And Google knows where you’re located. So it’s going to serve up those regional specific articles to you as well, down to the small town you might live in, or the region of America.
Rich: All right. I wonder how much YouTube is also part of that whole mix. Because I notice as I’m kind of skimming through some of the things that show up on my Google Discover, a lot of X-Men, a lot of Marvel comics, and a Dune thrown in there as well. And then Dave Grohl, and I’ve watched a lot of Foo Fighters on YouTube. So I’m wondering if that may be one of the other factors that’s playing into it.
Kyle: Spot on. Yeah, I think that’s exactly right.
Rich: So once we’ve decided, okay, Google Discover gets lots of eyeballs, it drives lots of traffic. If we’re all in on this, if we want to try it out, how do we get started with this? How do we get our articles to appear in Google Discover for our ideal clients?
Kyle: I think the first thing to notice is that it is still a keyword driven tool. So we still need to be writing about something that people are searching. But it has so many different nuances than just standard SEO. What we want to do is focus on something that people search, but write something that is by no means optimized for search engines, but optimized for clicks and intrigue.
So to step back though, just a little bit. If someone wants to get into Google Discover, I think the number one thing to do is create content. And create content with purpose focused around a keyword and what you already have authority in online.
Rich: Is there a place where we, and this may be a simplistic question, but is there a place where we go and we sign up for this, or is it just a matter of that Google is constantly looking for fresh content, and if we are creating the right kind of content for the right kind of people and we have a high authority website, they’re going to pull from us? Like, is there a specific step we need to take?
Kyle: Yeah, this is kind of like the beast of Google Discover that I love and I hate. There is no place to sign up for it. One month it will love you, and the next month it will act like it doesn’t know who you are. And in all of those fluctuations, I see small websites who are publishing five articles a month get popped in Google Discover. And then I’ll be publishing four articles a day, and for one month Google Discover will show me no love whatsoever. So it is a fickle beast, and it has no discrimination on how much you’re necessarily creating, as long as you create somewhat consistently that it knows you’re an active website. You know, it could be five times a month or five times a day. And there’s a possibility if we target our articles towards the specific piece of content that we’ll have much better odds of getting into Google Discover.
Rich: Interesting. I’m just thinking about as we’re recording this, the new Marvel show Hawkeye is about to drop. And had I planned this in advance, could I have taken advantage of that and created content around Hawkeye, just because it’s going to be higher up in the consciousness of people going to the Google homepage?
Kyle: Yeah, 100% And this was even to the point where we’re not talking about writing a generalized article about that. Is this a new movie you’re talking about?
Rich: It’s a new series on Disney+.
Kyle: All right. So then I would say, even if you want to get into Discover, we would niche it down so hard in this category and talk about one of the specific actors in the show and something that’s relevant about them at that time. Because Marvel and all these huge websites will have the overview that people are looking for for that show. But if you come in from a different angle, that is something super niche but intriguing, that’s when we can really see success in Google Discover.
Rich: So it definitely sounds like, without veering into the clickbait realm, that we definitely need to make our headers juicy. And you used a word earlier, and I’m blanking on what it was. But just to describe… oh, it was all about the mystery. That wasn’t the right word, you used a different word. But basically about, what’s the information gap here? What do I need to know? I’m missing out on something, and I have to click on that link. So kind of leaning more into maybe a social media approach, titles and headers, rather than the traditional one that we might use.
Kyle: A hundred percent. And I would definitely steer clear of clickbait, but I definitely like to bury the lead if possible. Or even, again, this is not something that I like to get a pattern of content creation around, but negative sentiment seems to work much better in titles than positive sentiment when it comes to Google Discover. And you know, I think the algorithms of Google fluctuates with that as well, and they work to taper that off so it’s not all negative. But it’s obviously human nature that we want to click on things that we’re either scared of or that we don’t know, or that we want to criticize someone’s opinion about. So if the article titles can lean towards any of those, that’s when we’re starting to get the click through rates that Google Discover likes to see.
Rich: Okay. So we’re going to be writing more kind of niche-y topics. We’re going to be still focused on keywords, like what are the searches that people are doing. But we’re not necessarily optimizing our articles for search in the same way, because nobody’s actually searching. These are pre-search results. Outside of that, what are some of the tactics that we can use as content creators to increase our chances that Google is going to pick us up if we’re not a Buzzfeed or some giant publisher?
Kyle: Totally. So outside of that example we just talked about with those juicy titles, there are two other ways to really set up yourself for Google Discover. First one is industry news. Whatever niche you write about, there is an industry around that. And if you can write, even if it’s not breaking news that’s happening that day, but if you know something specific about your industry.
So the RV industry, for example. This is the year where they have sold more RVs than ever before. So then we can write an angle of that story and have that be a piece of industry news that then the community would be interested in, and that would have an opportunity to get into Google Discover. And then the other way to really pop into Google Discover is to lean into the region aspect of an article, even down to a specific town.
So in some content categories, this can be more challenging than others. But for an example, when I’m talking about a ghost town, I write an article about Bodhi Ghost Town, a terrifying place in California or in Southern California. I just want to lean into exactly where that is located in the title so that Google gets a very clear message of where to send these articles once it gets popped in Discover.
Rich: Okay. So industry news, whatever your industry is, that’ll help. Making it as localized as possible, which probably taps into a lot of the local search results that Google has as well. You know a big thing, and really where Google made its bones and started to stand out from other search engines way back in the day, was in links. And yet at the same time, I’m hearing you talk a lot about news and breaking news. And obviously if an article is brand new, it’s unlikely to have any links. So is that anything we need to worry about in terms of just Google Discover?
Kyle: What we want is to get the attention of Google Discover once. So we want to get their attention. And then once that happens, we know they’re crawling our site. So I think links are not important for Google Discover specific articles. There is a special art around writing an SEO article that could also get popped in Discover. But if your strategy is to write four SEO articles and four Google Discover articles a month, I would not put any attention for links towards those Google Discover articles. Rather, make them as clickable as possible and send them out to your community as soon as they get published.
Rich: Okay. And this is something I hear time and time again on different social media platforms. This is about that initial push that we want to make. So talk to me a little bit about what you do or what you recommend your clients do when you’re ready to hit the ‘publish’ button on your blog.
Kyle: Yeah, this is where it’s crucial for me, because time is everything. I am concerned down to the seconds almost, as far as publishing it and shooting it out to my community. For Drivin’ and Vibin’, our flagship brand, what we do is send out a daily newsletter immediately after we publish the articles. This is a way to really pop it, as far as get as many community clicks for the newsletter. I’m talking about 60 seconds after the article publishes, and then shoot it out social. Now, that’s me being a perfectionist and it’s not necessary by any means. If you do it within a 24 hour window, I believe that’s fine as well.
Rich: But the optimal thing is trying to get as many eyeballs on that article as quickly after it gets published as possible, that will increase our chances of getting picked up.
Kyle: Yeah. We want Google to think, what is this? This must be news. This must be important. I need to send this out to the whole community that’s interested in this.
Rich: All right. Now one of the things I noticed that I was scrolling through my own Google Discover, was the fact that a lot of them had eye catching graphics. So what are you doing to prepare the images that get shown in Google Discover? Are there certain sizes that tend to work best? Are there certain text overlays that tend to work better or worse? What have you seen out there?
Kyle: Yeah. So I can’t tell you the exact size, but if you look it up online. I just have a template set up for her, but it’s close to a thumbnail of a YouTube video. So working within those dimensions is number one. Text overlay for me, it’s a big no-no. And using high quality stock images is what I do. But if you want to sift through more images, you can use those free stock images, as well as the main featured image. But you do want to make it pop. And if you want to dive a little bit deeper into that, you also want it to communicate with the title, to tell a more full story about what the article is about. So if I have an article about, ‘These are the things that will break first in your RV’, I want that featured image to be a stock photo of a mechanic that looks extremely trustworthy. Because together that image and that title are building trust and working together to get a click.
Rich: Interesting. See, I would’ve gone with the photo of the family by the side of the road, and everybody pissed at the dad.
Kyle: That’s a good one, too.
Rich: That plays on that negative side of things. Exactly.
Kyle: 100%. And you know, this is when it just becomes the art side of SEO. And that’s the side I like to wade in a lot.
Rich: Yeah. So let’s say that you and I were working on that article and we came to loggerheads on which would be the right image to use. Does Google, like if we put in both those images in the article, does Google randomly choose which one it’s going to be? Or when I’m setting this up in my WordPress or whatever my platform is, do I use the OJI to kind of say this is the image that should go into Google Discover in the same way I would with Facebook?
Kyle: Yeah. So 95% of the time it’s going to use that featured image or that hero image from WordPress or whatever hosting site you’re using. Sometimes Google gets a wild hair, and it will just choose another photo. Or if it’s feeling extra special one day, Google will put a YouTube thumbnail from an embedded YouTube video. So you never know what they’re going to do. But more times than not, they’ll use that photo that you serve up.
Rich: So you don’t have control, but certainly you can manage the experience a little bit, and hopefully will Google pick up on those signals.
Kyle: Most definitely.
Rich: Any recommendations around the length? Does that matter at all when it comes to the content that we’re creating for Google Discover?
Kyle: It doesn’t matter as much as it does with just standard search engine results. I would definitely say 500 words for me as a minimum that I like, but I’ve seen 300 words get served up in Google Discover on a regular basis. It depends on if you’re creating a top of a funnel for opt-ins or sales, or if you’re working on ad revenue. So for me with ad revenue, I’m trying to make it 1,000-1,500 hundred words so I can stick a few more ads in there. But I don’t think Google Discover has much of a preference as long as people are clicking and engaging with the content.
Rich: You just said something that kind of made me wonder. So you talked about putting ads on that page. I’m guessing that is one of, if not the way, that you generate revenue, that you’re selling ads. And so eyeballs are critically important. Do you have any clients that are not showing any ads and the purpose of getting them to the website might be brand awareness, lead generation, e-commerce what have you, and does that work equally as well, or does it really depend on what your goals are?
Kyle: 100%. We do have clients like that, and it works 100% of the same. Google doesn’t care if you serve ads up, as long as it doesn’t get in way too much of the experience. And they don’t seem to care if you don’t serve ads up. I’ve seen it work both ways with the same success. So, what I’ve found though, and I don’t want to jump to another question potentially. But the best way to ever make Google happy is to love them like that loyal dog that sits beside you, serve up YouTube embedded videos, put links to other YouTube things inside your article, and just keep petting Google and letting them know that we love you, we love all the products you make, we love the ecosystem you’re a part of.
Rich: All right, make sure that you are in the garden. You also mentioned a couple of times, you mentioned mobile, that this is really a mobile platform. Which always makes me wonder, how important is it to have AMP pages? Because I personally am not a fan of this, but I need to know if I want to get in here, is this going to be required?
Kyle: So, I think so many people don’t like AMP, and I swore by AMP in the first year that I was really getting into Discover. You had to be in AMP, I believe, at a certain point to get into Discover a year or so ago. So definitely it was super important. But now it seems as though there’s lawsuits that have been brought up to Google. I’m not 100% sure all the details, but a lot of it goes around them controlling too much, from what I’m aware of.
And now we’ve switched all of our pages away from AMP and haven’t seen a drop in traffic after that switch happened. So my recommendation to anyone, as long as they’re non-AMP pages on mobile are optimized to a certain extent, that I would switch away from AMP and host them internally as long as you have relatively fast page speeds.
Rich: Okay. I’m not super familiar with AMP. You mentioned you’re running ads. Can I run ads on an AMP page?
Kyle: You can, and they’re going to be ads served up by Google rather than if you have an ad partner site. So they’re a different quality of ad. And that was one of the downsides that we’ve noticed from the AMP.
Rich: Okay. All right. Is there with all the content that you’re posting up there, have you noticed that the time of day or day of week has had any impact on your reach on Google Discover?
Kyle: Yeah. This is again when it’s completely different than standard search engine optimization. It’s always a dance with the beast and I never know what’s going to happen. I typically like to focus on Sundays to try to really put my heavy hitters out, but I just never know. And so I wish I could give you an answer on that one, but it’s so much more fickle than just standard search traffic.
Rich: And how long do you usually see this surge of traffic from Google Discover? Because it does seem that it’s more interested in fresh content than evergreen content.
Kyle: Yes. So 24 to 48 hours is going to be the surge. And that’s been the case 95% of the time. Occasionally it’ll pick up an old article and just give it a little bit of juice. But most of the time it’s a flash in the pan.
Rich: All right. And the one thing that I’m always interested in is metrics. So I’m just kind of curious, if I look at my Google Analytics or Google Data Studio, what Google Discover specific information am I able to gather?
Kyle: So you can see the impressions and the clicks from the search console. So this is where it’s so valuable. If you haven’t hit Discover, then it won’t give you the option to see it. But once you hit Discover once, you’ll be able to see all the stats of what the click through rate is, what the impressions are, and your history there. Just like you can see the standard searches.
Rich: Now I have one more question, Kyle. So you mentioned earlier that you’ve even seen some small publishers, small content creators succeed, even if they only have four posts a month. Well, a number of people listening are going to be like, yeah, that’s more like my yearly amount of content I’m creating. Are they just out of luck at that situation? And if they are out of luck, if they’re just not creating enough content to get noticed by Google Discover, are there any other options for them?
Kyle: Yeah. There are always other options to get your content out there. But to be loved by Google, I definitely think once a week is going to be the minimum.
But I would urge those people who aren’t creating content as much, to create a little bit more content. Because it’s always going to be building trust within your brand, whether you are looking to optimize with ads or just have top of the funnel traffic come through. I love content. I live and breathe content, and it’s been just for me, the key to build brand loyalty and build a community online.
Rich: Awesome. Kyle, this has been fantastic and an absolutely new topic for us to cover. I love it. Do you have any last words? Is there anything we didn’t cover today that you think publishers should know or marketers should know about creating content to get it into Google Discover?
Kyle: Yeah. Just what we talked about. If you go to kylebrady.com, I do have an opt-in where you can get kind of the Google Discover roadmap that we use. And we’ve used that exact roadmap for our clients, and it just is an easy to understand guide. But basically it’s everything we’ve talked about here today as well. So write niche content, super niche content, and then write for regional or local, and write for your industry. Do it four times a month and you’re going to be well on your way. And stick with it for three months. Give it a test, see what happens.
Rich: And I’ll just say that I downloaded that guide that you have at kylebrady.com. Really good resource. Well laid out, very easy to understand. So if you want to kind of dig down a little bit deeper or have something more than just the audio and the transcription, be sure to check that out at kylebrady.com. Kyle, thanks so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.
Kyle: Yeah, I really enjoyed it. Thank you for having me.
Kyle Brady knows what Google Discover likes when it comes to content, and he uses that information to get his – and his clients’ – content in the Discover feed. Check out his website for his list of strategies, and definitely download his FREE roadmap that will guide you through the steps yourself.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.