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Maximising Eligibility for Google Discover Traffic

Published Categorised as Traffic

As content publishers monetizing websites with Ads, we all want Google Discover traffic, it’s a no brainer. It’s not search traffic, it’s more “browsing based on interest” type traffic, it can have a great RPM and great time on page.

Even if you’re running an eCommerce business, taking advantage of Google Discover traffic to generate more reach, impressions and brand awareness isn’t a bad idea (especially if it’s a simple process to maximize your chances of getting Discover traffic in the first place)

Let’s get to it.

1. Ensure your pages have the “max-image-preview:large” Robots meta tag

This basically tells Google “fetch a large image” instead of leaving it to fetch a thumbnail of the featured image (which would be small and grainy).

This image from Google’s case study pretty much explains what this enables

large vs thumbnail image experience Google Discover

The good news:

WordPress by default, since WordPress 5.7 includes the max-image-preview:large in the meta name=”robots” content=”” meta tag.

This article from SEMRush really frickin’ nails the purpose of the robots meta vs the robots.txt – and explains what are the directives that can be used are – worth a read if you want to understand exactly how this works.

In addition, that article demonstrates how Yoast and RankMath give you options to “tune” the robot meta tag on a per page basis

Obviously, with Shopify, the solution is inevitably more code based as it’s just far less user friendly than WordPress is almost every single context – I don’t hate Shopify, but yet another reason why it’s more challenging if you’re not code-proficient.

Importance: 9/10

Out of 10 – this one appears to be pretty damn important, like a 9 or 10. If your website isn’t giving Google the opportunity to display a high quality image in the Google Discover display slots – then you’re probably going to be ignored in favour of a website that does.

2. Ensure your main RSS Feed URL is in the <head> of each of your articles

This one made absolute sense, but also offered me up a technical quandry.

Having these URLs in the head of your page mean they get crawled by the bots, and these URLs FLOOD Search Console with URLs that overall, pollute the data. That makes spotting GENUINE issues in Search Console less “immediate” and stark.

Add to this, Ezoic – in their wisdom, actually provide you a setting under their “Speed Settings” tab when using their Ad Network and their plugin – to “Remove Feed URLs from head of page”.

Yet in another Ezoic article I was directed to by Danijel Dadović (team member at Ezoic) they emphasise the importance of having your feed “optimized” for Google Discover traffic (removing it from the <head> of the page is most definitely NOT an optimization!).

This I think is proposed in the name of “site speed” – yet what’s fundamentally crazy about this is the fact that it could lead to you limiting your chances to gain Google Discover traffic. Insane.

Because I’m a bit of a technical geek, I do remove the “page level” feed – as that’s not a feed anyone should follow (why it exists I don’t know).

I also remove the “comments” feed URL from the head – as in 2023, what use is the comments feed actually delivering?

Pop this in the code snippets plugin and your Comments Feed URL should be removed:

add_action( 'feed_links_show_comments_feed', '__return_false', -1 );

Schema Settings for Google Web Stories

Interestingly Google doesn’t appear to specify anything regarding Schema for Google Web Stories in their best practice guidance documentation.

However, as “Web Stories” are created as a new custom post type inside your WordPress site, your SEO plugin (Yoast or RankMath) will apply schema to these “posts”.

RankMath defaults and limits to specifying that the overall Schema type for a web story is “Article” – but you have free choice on the “Article Type Schema” (Blog, Article or News).

Yoast on the other hand defaults to “WebPage” as the main Schema type, but then defaults to “no article type schema”. That for me feels like the wrong approach, as if left like this, your web stories would carry the same sort of schema as your “home page” or other “pages” on your site which aren’t necessarily designed to bring in organic traffic. I’d therefore recommend selecting “Article” from the article type schema dropdown list in Yoast.

This looks and sounds a little “nuanced” and I’ll be honest the question of “does it matter?” comes to mind.

The fact is Google MAY release some guidance on this in future, so at least knowing how they’re set now is a Google.

Are there any drawbacks to adding the Article type schema? Not based on our experience.

Are there any positives / gains to be had by adding the Article type schema? Difficult to say with certainty.

Your move Google.

Monitoring Web Stories Analytics

This is a topic that’s going to get it’s own series of articles, but for now a signpost in the direction of some resources, and what to / what not to expect from WordPress and your Plugins and services will be pretty useful.

Using Rank Math – Gap in Analytics

I thought Rank Math may be a saviour of analytics, indexation and otherwise optimisation of Google Web Stories. But it’s really not, not yet at least.

Rank Math Analytics exclusively looks at your POSTS and PAGES – it doesn’t include your Web Stories (which are a custom post type) in it’s Analysis, SEO Performance, Keywords, Rank Tracker or Index Status tools and reports.

It’s likely a significant reason for this is the fact that web stories show up in places that Rank Math and Google Search console isn’t looking, or doesn’t give us granularity on. i.e. there’s not really a “rank” to track when it comes to getting your story featured in one of the many “non-search” placements – such as the discover panel on Android.

I think Rank Math could do more, especially with regard to index status – there’s an open feature request, maybe something coming soon.

Using Google Data Studio with Web Stories

This guidance from Google is well overdue an overhaul and update to take into account the sunsetting of GA3/UA and the forceful replacement with GA4.

Here’s a video from Google themselves about the Web Stories Insights Dashboard – but the template is built around UA – so it’s borderline useless. HOWEVER, you can integrate GA4 with GDS, you just need to rebuild the template.

Here’s a link to the full article from Google

Google News vs Google Discover

Google News and Google Discover are two completely different Google products and sources of Google traffic – however you’d be forgiven for thinking that these are related as neither of them are “Google Search Traffic”.

Here’s a pretty good article explaining the core differences, for the purposes of this article, we just need to know they’re different and optimising for Google News Traffic is a different objective to optimising your site for Google Discover Traffic.

Here’s an Article from Matthew Woodward on how to get your site submitted to Google News.

Discover Traffic to Web Stories vs Articles

You might already have had a conversation with your Ad Network about monetization of web stories – if not, here’s the quick summary:

Web Stories don’t monetise as well as a full blow article (is that really a surprise?! It’s a condensed content format, so there’s less real estate for ads. It makes sense)

However Mediavine and Raptive both monetise your Web Stories – here’s the latest article from Mediavine about what you need to do to monestize Google Web Stories if you’re with Mediavine.

In summary for Mediavine:

  • Ads aren’t shown until after slide 6-8, so make it longer
  • Ads are automatically enabled, but there’s a specific setting in the Mediavine plugin that can be switched on or off for monetizing Web Stories (see image below)

Raptive’s documentation for Web Stories monetisation is far more up to date that Mediavine’s, but ultimately aligns closely with the mechanism for Mediavine. Here’s the Raptive documentation.

In summary for Raptive:

  • Raptive defer to Google’s documentation to indicate after which slide the ads will be placed, “sometime after the first 2 pages” at time of writing
  • Ads need to be enabled by selecting the “Enable Web Stories Ads” setting in the Raptive plugin (see image below)

By Ashley Pearce

I'm the founder of Future State Media, a "small-on-purpose" creator-focused SEO agency skilled in helping creators systematically generate traffic, build audiences and maximise their monetisation whilst staying true to their brand.