I've been experimenting with Google Discover for about 2 months now, but the voila moment came for me yesterday night. That's when a friend of mine, another blogger, got featured on Google Discover. But, the most surprising catch was the fact that her website was a WordPress sub-domain i.e. not a purchased custom domain. This is a sigh of relief for many quality bloggers out there who were wondering whether "free websites can feature on Google Discover". Now we know that they can!
Free WordPress on Discover
Let me begin by showing you a glimpse of my friend's feature on Google Discover:
Trust me, even after 40 of my own features, I didn't feel as inspired as I felt yesterday because her featured post gave me an opportunity to understand what works for Google Discover and what doesn't. In a way, hopefully, it brought me a step closer to understanding how to optimize for it.
Google Discover Components
Let us now check out the components of Google Discover for a free WordPress website:
1. WordPress Favicon
The first thing you can notice is the favicon which appears along with the featured post on Discover - it is the WordPress logo. Now this is kind of obvious since it is a WordPress sub-domain. But, it also raises a question of internal competition among the free WordPress websites to feature on Google Discover.
As Google, you wouldn't want all the websites that feature for a topic to have the same logo, which means that there has to be some level of internal competition among the free WordPress users for any topic.
2. Google Discover Topic
Each Discover Card comes with a topic for which it has got featured. I've elaborated this point while listing down the differences between Google Discover and Google News. For my friend's post, that Discover topic was 'Interview'.
This was a really intriguing observation for me because her post's title clearly highlights CAT 2019, which is a much easier topic to rank for (given it's a niche as compared to the topic 'Interview').
This lead me to experiment a bit with Google Keyword Planner. I used my friend's post to determine what it was majorly circling around. To my surprise, GKP revealed some amazing insights.
It was found that 10% of the keyword suggestions based on her post included the word 'Interview' (text match). When I did the same exercise with one of my posts which recently featured on Google Discover under the topic CAT, only 1% of the keyword suggestions were based on interviews.
We can use this understanding to evaluate our post's central topic before hitting the publish button, thereby trying to feature our posts on topics which are less competitive and easier to rank for.
In my understanding, the reason why my friend's post featured under the topic 'Interview' rather than 'CAT' is that CAT is a competitive niche with a lot of bloggers writing about it, whereas Interviews, due to its larger population size, offers more opportunities for a quality blogger to appear in Google Discover.
3. Post URL
Another interesting insight was that the URL of the featured post didn't contain any keywords related to the post. I'm sharing the URL below for your reference:
This is pretty amazing because we all know that URL is an important component that affects SEO rankings. SEO Experts have been writing posts on how to optimize for it. And here we have a brilliant example that stands contrary to the common SEO practices.
This observation reinforces what I believed initially about Google Discover when my first few posts got featured. It is a new horizon for Digital Marketers to explore which works very differently from SEO for Google Search.
4. Post Length
My friend's post was 1,370 words long. Time and again it has been suggested that high quality posts are often elaborate and hence, one should try to write at least 1,000+ quality words in a post to rank better.
I couldn't agree with the experts' take on this matter. From my experience of getting 40+ posts on Google Discover, I can clearly see that the posts with a reading time of 1-2 mins don't perform as well as the posts with a reading time of 3-4 minutes.
5. AMP Version
Did you notice the flash sign on the top right corner of the Discover Card? That's a sign for AMP version of a blog post. If you're not aware of AMP, I'd suggest you to read this.
AMP simply enables faster loading of web pages. Till now, all of my featured posts on Google Discover were AMP posts and the same stands true for my friend's post. This can also be observed for majority of the posts that feature on Google Discover.
With this insight, it becomes all the more important for new bloggers to enable AMP on their posts to let their web pages load faster and remain optimized for Google Discover.
I know of at least one more WordPress blogger who was apprehensive of free WordPress plan and was unsure if that's the reason the posts are not getting featured on Google Discover. It can be safely concluded that a free WordPress website is no hindrance to getting your posts on Discover.
As long as you're writing quality content and carrying out its basic optimization, it should feature on Google Discover. With this, I close this post with feedback and comments welcomed.
Note: I'd like to express my gratitude to Anushree Naik (the friend I've been referring to) for igniting the spirit in me to pen down this post and for giving us all the sign that we've been looking for.
So, dear WordPress bloggers, it's definitely possible for a free WordPress website to appear in Google Discover Feed, all you need is quality content written consistently on a particular niche, which is not so competitive. And voila! You'll be up there next in no time!