Goodbye Google+ Hello Google Discover

Back in October 2018 , BizIQ reported about Google’s announcement that it would be shutting down the consumer side of its social media platform, Google+ on August 31, 2019. But because the service continued to have issues, we updated that information a few weeks ago when Google decided to shut it down sooner.

However, the demise of Google+ doesn’t mean Google’s given up on all aspects of social media. Besides adding more social aspects to its popular Google My Business service, it’s also working another service that might transform Google search itself – Google Discover.

From Google Now to Google Feed to Google Discover

Last year Google announced Google Feed which brought a Facebook-like news feed to Google mobile searches via the Google app, you know kind of like a new and improved version of Google Now, (remember Google Now?).

Google Feed was first just available on the Google App for Android, then a few months later for iOS as well. Then in September of 2018, Google announced a new approach to search, and that Google Feed was now renamed Google Discover.

What is Google Discover?

Let’s see, how should I describe Google Discover? Imagine what would happen if your Facebook newsfeed and old school early 2000’s MSN web portal had a baby, that’s Google Now; I mean Google Feed; I mean Google Discover. At least that’s what it looks like.

Google Discover uses cards based on user interests. Google has used cards since the Google Now days, and these cards are also now part of many search results outside of Google Discover.

What are “cards?” Are they featured snippets or something else?

Gif from Google of typical Google Discover card

They’re really just a short summary of information on a subject. They look kind of like a featured snippet in Google Search or the Chrome app.

You may have read a lot of articles on “featured snippets” recently. Featured snippets, are one type of “card.”

In search, a featured snippet or answer panel, or 0 result is a summary of information on a query. It’s usually a web page description and link to a piece of content on the topic and sometimes includes an image which can be from the same webpage or another source.

In Google Discovery, like Google Now, and Google Feed before it, the snippet, or card is a summary of of information on a topic that Google’s Machine Learning algorithms think you want to know. The cards display on your Google homepage in your mobile browser or the Google App.

You must opt into Google Discover to change the appearance of your Google search homepage in the Google app, but the Google Discover feed just suddenly appeared on my Google Safari Google Search page one day a couple months ago.

How do I get Google Discover?

Google Discover is only available in Google search on mobile devices, except it’s seemingly not rolled out onto the Google Search homepage in the mobile version of Google Chrome.

However, I could get Google Discover pages to show up in Google Chrome because Google Discover in the Google app gives me the option to open the page in Chrome from within the share menu.

Google Discover is not available on desktop at this time. Google hasn’t mentioned any plans for desktop, but based on past behavior around other features, I think it’s safe to say that they’re probably working on bringing it to desktop, but when is anybody’s guess.

Who decides what appears in the Discover feed?

Using machine learning algorithms, Google decides what cards to display on your search homepage based on several things including:

1. Information from your mobile device

2. Your location history, your app use

3. Your search history

4.Sites you visit

5. Online articles you read

6. Videos you watch

7. What’s trending locally and worldwide.

You can also tell Google what you’re interested in within the Google mobile app, and you can follow any topic, person, publication, show, that you’re interested in from within Google Discover mode.

The items displayed in Google Discover are what’s known as “queryless searches,” meaning the cards appear when you haven’t searched for anything yet.

The Google Discover enabled homepage consists of large cards sorted by main topics, and smaller cards with related articles and topics appear below the larger cards. Some topics have a carousel of cards that you can touch scroll through. The cards will always have an image or even a video. Plus, Google now will auto play a video without sound as you scroll.

What’s on the cards in the Discover Feed?

All the cards are links to content like an article, a video, or website about the topic Above the larger card there might be a button with the name of the topic.

Click on the button and Google navigates you to a page full of more cards, each with a link to another piece of content on the topic. Some of these pages have a clickable button near the top of the page that gives you the option to follow or unfollow the topic of the page.

All the main topic Discover search pages have a place at the top where a user can click to perform a regular query style search just by clicking on that snippet or thumbnail image which is located at the top of the Discover topic page. There is also a text link at the bottom of the Discover search page that gives a user the same option. Click on either link, and you’re taken to a typical Google search page, which depending on the topic, increasingly looks more similar to the Google Discover pages.

How Will Google Discover Affect Small Businesses?

Gif from Google of typical Google Discover card

Great. But how will the Google Discover feed affect how my business shows up in Google search results? Do I need to change my local online marketing strategy? Should I worry about ranking in Google Discovery?

These are all great questions. Right now within mobile search, Google in effect is running 2 parallel search types, a queryless search, and a query-style search.

Google has said that the Discover feed already contains information about what’s going on locally.

That means certain types of local businesses like restaurants could show up in the Google Discover feed.

Also, Google has been testing showing ads in Google Discover, and local businesses that are running PPC advertising campaigns could definitely benefit from showing up as an ad in Google Discover feeds when Google moves from beta testing to officially show ads there. It will be interesting to see where the Google takes this and if Google Discover will further evolve from something where people can follow news about current events, celebrities, sports, fashion, shopping, and entertainment to a platform that contains more local results as well.

How Will Google Discover Affect Local Search?

Unfortunately, just like with regular search, Google doesn’t tell businesses, marketers, and SEO service providers how to best show up at the top of search results.

With query style search, SEO’s and marketers know a lot more based on lots of opportunities to study how things work over decades of Google search queries and decades of website and content development as well as the evolution of Google algorithms.

With Google Discover, it’s a little trickier to predict what kinds of strategies might work, because it hasn’t been around as long.

However, I spoke with BizIQ’s SEO Department, and they agree that through a combination of great content, and advanced SEO techniques like Schema markup, it’s probably possible to affect rankings within Google Discover, but only time and testing will tell if that might be true.

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