Mueller Explains Google Discover Traffic
A person recently asked Google’s John Mueller in an Office-hours hangout about why SEO traffic from Google Discover may suddenly cease. Mueller answered this question in detail and discussed how to identify SEO problems unique to Google Discover, such as on-page issues and content policy breaches.
Google Discover is a source of site traffic distinct from Google’s search-related traffic. For users, it’s a highly customised feed of content that corresponds to their interests.
For instance, if a user looks for articles about baking, Google’s algorithms will start displaying relevant content via the Google Discover feature. For those who are looking for entertainment content, Google Discover provides material from entertainment websites.
Understanding Google Discover begins with realising that Discover’s traffic depends on the relevance of a website’s content to user interests. Therefore, it’s critical to explain what a web page is about in the title tag and headings to help Google comprehend its context and link it to people looking for that specific information.
The person asking the question shared that they had a huge issue with Google Discover on their website. In two days, their SEO traffic from Google Discover plummeted by 70 per cent. It has stabilised at a certain point and has remained there for some time.
The SEO said they were unsure why it fell so far; they thought they might have done something wrong or was the update. They asked Mueller if he could clarify as to what exactly happened since it was a drastic decline.
Mueller Gives Explanation For Google Discover Traffic
Mueller first stated that he couldn’t speak specifically about the person’s website because he doesn’t personally know the situation; thus, his response would be broader.
He said many SEOs reported that Discover traffic is either on or off. For instance, there is little room if their algorithms suddenly decide that they will stop showing content from a website in Discover. If Google’s algorithm makes that decision, then all of the traffic disappears.
On the other hand, if Google’s algorithm chooses to show content from a particular website, the site owner would suddenly receive more traffic from Google Discover.
The SEO followed up by claiming that their website had been receiving consistent Discover traffic for four consecutive months before suddenly collapsing in two days. They wanted to know whether there might be a software problem stopping Google Discover from sending traffic.
Reason For Google Discover to Stop Sending Traffic
Mueller explained how to analyse technical issues before moving on to discuss Discover content policies. He said that if it’s a technical problem, then SEOs would see it in the Web Search, along with crawl issues.
He was honest to say that he was not familiar with everything that goes on in Discover, but the problems that he usually hears from others are possibly about the quality of the website. Some issues could be related to the individual policies for Discover.
Mueller then explained that Google has policies for Discover that differ from Web Search, particularly regarding click-bait and adult content, among other things. He recommended that SEOs check Google Discover’s help centre page.
He said that many websites might contain a mix of such content, and Google may find it too much. In such cases, their SEO algorithms might view the website as something they have to be cautious with whenever they visit it. As a result, Google might not know the website’s entire context and its details.
Afterwards, Mueller advised the SEO to get insights by finding articles – the ones written by SEO experts – about the best types of content that perform well with Google Discover
From Google’s vantage point, Discover is a place where they aim to provide users with a stream of information. And so, they try to keep things simple and avoid too much detailed information on what kind of content an SEO needs to provide to perform there. Mueller encourages site owners to look at what other publishers have discovered.
Different Reasons For Losing Discover Traffic
According to Mueller, two possible reasons why an SEO loses Google Discover traffic are website quality problems and Google Discover content policy violations.
Website Quality Problems
Many factors can cause site quality issues, but if the regular search rankings remain the same, then the problem might not be with the website’s quality.
Google Discover Content Policy
Publishers should become familiar with Google’s Discover Content Policy Violations to avoid hurting their Discover traffic because several topics are prohibited. Aside from violent, hateful, or explicit content, there are other categories of content violations that one should be aware of.
- The publisher must clearly state affiliate relationships.
- The advertisements should not exceed content.
- The publisher should not create misleading titles that promise to address a topic but then fail to deliver in the content itself.
- The content should provide transparency about the publisher, publication, publication dates, author by-lines, and contact information.
A few other significant issues to be aware of are the prohibition against deceptive clickbait titles, content intended to anger and pique emotions, and what Google refers to as “morbid curiosity”.
The Main Takeaway
One can conclude that Google Discover content is not necessarily always reliable compared to the content in Web Search.
The SEO community should be aware that Google Discover traffic is based on user interests. For instance, if a website offers seasonal content, like travel blogs and articles, then their traffic might drastically drop in the fall when the vacation season is over.
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