In the ever-evolving digital landscape, having a well-optimized website is crucial for publishers looking to maximize their online presence and reach a wider audience. Alongside traditional search engine optimization (SEO) practices, it's essential to pay attention to emerging platforms like Google Discover.
Google Discover has become a valuable source of traffic for many websites, providing personalized content recommendations to users based on their interests and search history. To make the most of this platform, publishers must ensure that their website meets Google’s technical requirements and best practices.
In this article, we will provide a comprehensive checklist to help publishers improve the technical side of their website and optimize it for Google Discover. By following these guidelines, publishers can improve their chances of appearing on Google Discover and attract a significant influx of organic traffic to their website. So, let's dive in and explore how to unlock the potential of your website.
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What Is the Technical Side of the Website?
The technical side of a website refers to the underlying infrastructure, architecture and functionality that keeps a website running smoothly and efficiently. It covers various aspects such as website speed, mobile responsiveness, website structure, coding, server configuration and more. As a publisher, it's essential that you pay attention to the technical side of your websites as it directly affects user experience, search engine visibility and overall website success.
Universal Technical Checklist For Publishers
As a publisher, you must understand that your website is the foundation of your online presence. It's not only a platform to showcase your content but also a crucial tool for attracting and engaging your target audience. To ensure that your website is optimized for performance, user experience and search engine visibility, regularly conducted technical checks are imperative.
In order to improve your website’s performance, we recommend you go through the checklist below. In addition, we will provide recommendations on how to fix the key issues associated with each point.
|1||Technical duplicates of pages|
|2||Page load speed analysis|
|3||Alt and Title generation for website images|
|5||Optimization of H1-H6 headings|
|6||Micro Markup Open Graph|
1. Technical Duplicates of Pages
Technical duplicates are pages with the same content but different URLs. Having such pages clutter the search results and prevent Google from showing users the relevant pages that will bring traffic to your website.
1.1. The server allows page duplicates to be generated with index.html or index.php. Here are examples of such duplicates:
Recommended: We suggest that you configure a 301 redirect from pages with index.html or index.php to pages without index.html or index.php.
FYI: A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that notifies search engines and browsers that the page has permanently moved to a new location. By implementing a 301 redirect, you ensure that when someone accesses a page with "index.html" or "index.php" in the URL, they are automatically redirected to the corresponding URL without it.
1.2. There should only be one version of the website in the index. If you have mirrors with http or www (or without www), it is recommended that you set up a generation of 301 redirects from all mirrors to the canonical version of the domain.
As an example, a 301 redirect should be generated from the domain names https://www.example.com/ and http://example.com/ to the domain name https://example.com/. That way, pages like http://www.example.com/tag/covid will be redirected to its canonical version https://example.com/tag/covid.
FYI: The canonical version of a domain refers to the preferred or authoritative version of a website's URL. It helps to prevent duplicate content issues that can arise from multiple versions of the same webpage being accessible through different URLs, and it indicates which URLs should be indexed by search engines.
1.3. Web pages that display search results on a website should not be indexed by search engines. These pages typically contain dynamic content generated based on user queries and are not considered valuable or relevant for search engine users.
An example of similar pages: https://example.com/search/?keyword=test&sortfield=pubdate https://example.com?s=test
Recommended: Set up the meta tag
meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow"/ on search results pages.
1.4. There should be only one canonical version of URLs. If your canonical pages are without a slash (/) at the end of the URL, then page URLs that contain a slash should be redirected to the canonical version.
The server should not be allowed to generate pages with and without a slash at the end of the URL at the same time (the same goes for pages with multiple slashes).
For example: https://example.com/tag/covid/page/2 — original page https://example.com/tag/covid/page/2/ — duplicate page or https://example.com/blog/article1 — original page https://example.com/blog/article1/////// — duplicate https://example.com/blog/////article1/////// — duplicate
Recommended: Setup 301 redirects from duplicate pages with multiple slashes in the URL to similar pages without multiple slashes. However, if your canonical pages contain a slash (/) at the end of the URL, you should do the opposite, i.e., setup generation of 301 redirects from duplicate pages without a slash to canonical pages that contain a slash at the end of the URL.
1.5. The server must not generate pages with uppercase characters.
Recommended: Configure a 301 redirect from duplicate pages of the website, where at least one character in the URL is in UPPERcase, to the same pages of the site, where all characters in the URL are in lowercase. On all pages of the website, replace URLs of links with UPPERcase characters with the same pages with lowercase characters.
Important: This rule should not apply to links with UTM tags. It is recommended to use this plugin.
1.6. On pagination pages, the link to the first page must not generate a technical double.
Recommended: Replace all pagination pages with links from “/page/1/” to similar pages without “/page/1/” in the URL. Also, it’s needed to set up a 301 redirect from pages with “/page/1/” to similar ones without “/page/1/”.
As an example, for the page https://example.com/tag/pd/page/2/, when a user clicks on the back arrow or the number "1" (indicating the first page), they should be led to https://example.com/tag/pd/. In addition, a 301 redirect should be generated from https://example.com/tag/pd/page/1/ to https://example.com/tag/pd/. This helps to consolidate the indexing and ranking authority of the content under the canonical URL and avoids potential duplicate content issues.
1.7. All filters should be closed for indexing.
For example: https://www.example.com/moda/?filter_by=popular https://www.example.com/moda/?filter_by=featured https://www.example.com/moda/?filter_by=popular7 https://www.example.com/moda/?filter_by=review_high https://www.example.com/moda/?filter_by=random_posts
Recommended: Set up meta tag
meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow"/ for all filter pages.
1.8. Pages with UTM-tags must be closed for indexing.
An example of similar pages: https://www.example.com/article/1539124?utm_source=1539124&utm_medium=conte&utm_campaign=main
Recommended: Set up the meta tag
meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow"/ on pages that use the URL mask “utm_source=”. It is also recommended to replace all links with UTM tags within the website with URLs without UTM tags, unless there is a special reason for doing so.
2. Page Load Speed Analysis
Page load speed is an important ranking factor because it directly affects the usability of the website. Slow-loading pages can frustrate visitors and lead to higher bounce rates. In addition, search engines, such as Google, consider page load speed as one of its ranking factors. Faster-loading websites are more likely to rank higher in search engine results.
To increase your website loading speed, we recommend implementing any recommendations indicated in this report. Enter any article URL and see recommendations on how to improve the page load speed.
3. Alt and Title Generation for Website Images
Search engines cannot interpret images directly. By providing descriptive alt text, you help search engines understand the content and context of the images on your website. This can improve your website's visibility and contribute to overall SEO efforts.
Besides, search engines can use alt text to index and categorize images, allowing them to appear in relevant image searches. This will allow your website to get additional traffic from Google Image Search.
It is necessary to uniquelize the Alt/Title of images on the website relative to other websites.
Recommended: Set up Alt/Title generation using the following template.
If there is a title description for a picture in the admin panel (CMS):
Alt: current image description | Website name or domain
Title: current image description | Website name or domain
If there is NO title description for the picture in the admin panel:
Alt: article title | Website name or domain
Title: article title | Website name or domain
Alt: article title #2 | Website name or domain
Title: article title #2 | Website name or domain
4. Pagination Pages
In terms of website technical optimization, pagination pages refer to the practice of dividing content or a large number of items into multiple pages. Pagination is commonly used for blog posts, product listings, search results and other types of content that would be difficult to present on a single page.
Pagination pages are required for better website crawling and link juice spreading.
Recommended: Add pagination pages links on the main page and on category/tag pages between the last article and footer.
Also it’s recommended to set up the meta tag
meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow"/ for pagination pages. By doing so, it instructs search engine bots to follow the links on the pages but not to index each individual page of the pagination series.
Using this meta tag for pagination pages helps to prevent search engines from wasting resources by indexing multiple similar pages while still allowing them to explore and index the relevant content on your website.
5. Optimization of H1-H6 Headings
H1-H6 headings help search engines understand what the page is about. It's recommended to use headings in a hierarchical and logical manner, ensuring that each heading level is appropriately nested within higher-level headings. This helps both search engines and users navigate and comprehend the content more effectively.
FYI: H1-H6 headings refer to the HTML heading elements used to structure and organize content on web pages. The "H" stands for heading, and the numbers 1 to 6 represent the different levels of headings, with H1 being the highest and most important heading level and H6 being the lowest and least important heading level.
For website technical optimization, consider the following best practices:
5.1. On the mainpage, remove all H1-H6 tags (change to plain text
<p></p> without visual changes) from categories and titles of articles except one H1, which should be the website name. If there is no H1 for the website name, it is required that you add one.
5.2. On category/tag pages, remove all H2-H6 tags (change to plain text
<p></p> without visual changes). Leave only one H1 tag with category/tag name.
5.3. On content/article/news pages remove all H2-H6 tags (change to plain text
<p></p> without visual changes) except for headings and subheadings in the article text.
6. Micro Markup Open Graph
Micro Markup Open Graph refers to the implementation of structured data using Open Graph protocol to provide additional context and information about web pages. Open Graph protocol is a set of tags that website owners can add to their HTML code to control how their content appears when shared on social media platforms and other websites.
Typically, when a link is shared on social networks, the platform attempts to generate a preview of the shared content by pulling information from the webpage, such as the title, description and image. However, without specific markup instructions, the generated preview may not accurately represent the intended content, leading to a less appealing and less informative display.
By using Micro Markup Open Graph tags, website owners can provide explicit instructions to social media platforms as to how their content should be displayed when shared. This allows for a more visually appealing and engaging preview, with a properly formatted title, concise description and relevant image.
When implementing Micro Markup Open Graph, it is recommended to include the website's logo in the microdata for the main page and categories. The logo image that is added to the microdata should have a minimum resolution of 1200x630 pixels.
As an example:
What is Google Discover?
Google Discover is a personalized content discovery platform offered by Google. It provides users with a customized feed of articles, news, videos and other online content based on their interests and preferences. It is available through the Google app on mobile devices and on the Google homepage for desktop.
One of the key features of Google Discover is its ability to adapt and learn from user interactions. It takes into account user feedback on the content presented, allowing them to customize their preferences by indicating whether they want to see more or less of certain topics.
Google Discover: Best Practices for Publishers
Similar to social networks (especially Facebook) and SEO, Google Discover has become an increasingly important source of traffic for publishers.
Similar to what happens with social networks and search engines today, the dynamic nature of the algorithm and the owners’ desire for these platforms influence adaptations to the algo, whether that be for the benefit of the user (to generate recurrency) or the stakeholders (to drive monetization).
For publishers and website owners, getting their content featured on Google Discover can be a valuable opportunity to reach a wider audience and drive traffic to their websites. By optimizing their content and following Google's guidelines, publishers can increase the visibility of their articles and enhance the chances of being included in users' personalized Discover feeds.
|1||Web & app activity|
|2||Fast and mobile-friendly design|
|6||Open Graph metadata|
|7||Grouping authors by expertise|
|8||Content for Discover in a separate folder in URL|
1. Web & App Activity
Google uses implicit and explicit information from devices and other Google products from interest settings, to search history, web and app information, contact information, personal results and location history and settings. All of which falls under Web & App activity on Google.
Implicit information refers to data that Google collects based on the user's activities, behavior and preferences across various platforms and services. This includes data such as search history, browsing patterns, interactions with Google products (like Google Search, Google Maps, YouTube, etc.) and other implicit signals that indicate the user's interests and preferences.
Explicit information refers to data that users provide directly to Google, such as their explicit interests, preferences and settings. This can include explicit selections of topics or categories of interest, language preferences, location settings and other user-provided information that helps Google understand the user's preferences.
Google Discover also considers information from the user's device, such as the device type, operating system, language settings and other relevant device-specific data. This information helps Google tailor the content recommendations to suit the user's device capabilities and preferences.
With Discover, users receive personalized updates on interests (like favorite sports team or news website) through a series of contact points (app, Android device, browser, search homepage, -1 screen, the list goes on).
2. Fast and Mobile-Friendly Design
Google prefers fast websites and mobile-friendly designs.
A good way to increase loading speed is to have AMP versions of all your articles. To do that, you will need to create separate HTML pages that adhere to the specifications and guidelines set by the AMP framework. These pages typically have a simplified structure, limited CSS styling and prioritize efficient resource loading. Also, by adopting AMP, you ensure that your content is optimized for mobile devices, taking into account factors such as responsive design, mobile-friendly layouts and efficient utilization of network resources.
If you don’t want to use AMP on your website (due to lower monetization), you can check any URL of your website in Google PageSpeed to see exactly how you can improve your page speed, and we recommend paying special attention to Core Web Vitals.
FYI: AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is an open-source framework developed by Google with the goal of providing a streamlined and lightweight format for mobile web pages. It focuses on delivering a faster and smoother user experience by reducing page load times and optimizing performance.
3. Optimized Images
The primary image of your content is one of the first things your reader’s eye will focus on, swiping their way to content that looks and sounds appealing.
Google recommends that you have larger images with a minimum width of 1200 pixels and enable the "large" image preview using the max-image-preview meta tag or consider implementing AMP on your website. Whenever possible, use original images that are exclusive to your website. Assign descriptive and keyword-rich titles to your images, as well as alt text.
FYI: Max-image-preview is a robots meta tag that you can include in the HTML code of your web pages. By setting the value to "large," you indicate to search engines, including Google, that they can display larger image previews for your content. This can potentially enhance the visibility and attractiveness of your content in search results and platforms like Google Discover.
Make sure that your image stands out, but keep it relevant. Use compelling, high-quality images in your content. Remember that while images can contribute to the visibility and engagement of your content in Google Discover, they should be used in a way that aligns with the overall user experience and supports the context of your content. Avoid using images for purely decorative purposes or misleading users with irrelevant visuals.
Of course, this also applies to videos.
4. Catchy Headlines
The title is the first element users see when they encounter content on Google Discover. This serves as a crucial factor in capturing users’ attention and encouraging them to further interact with the content. An attractive and informative headline increases the likelihood that users will click through to your content, driving traffic to your website.
Besides, Google Discover uses algorithms to personalize content recommendations based on user preferences and interests. Headlines play a significant role in conveying the relevance and topic of the content to both users and search engines. By crafting clear and descriptive headlines that accurately represent the content, you increase the chances of your content being matched with relevant user queries and appearing in Google Discover.
We've rounded up a few key tips to help craft effective headlines.
- Listicles: Include phrases such as: “15 Reasons Why…”, “10 Things You Should Buy…”, “10 Cars That…”, “These 5 Things…”
- Intrigue: Use headlines with the answer in the content: “This Heartbreaking Moment”, “Fans Couldn’t Handle It”, “And Here’s Why”;
- Emotionally charged content: Capitalize on emotionally charged content such as marriages, divorces and interpersonal drama
- Questions: Ask topical and intriguing questions in the title in headlines (and provide the answer within the content)
- Timeliness: Highlight relevant news or time-sensitive information
Also remember that Google Discover typically displays shorter headlines, so it's important your message is clear and concise. Aim for headlines that are around 40-60 characters long to ensure they are fully visible and impactful.
E-A-T means Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness.
E-A-T is one of many guidelines Google uses to determine whether the content is valuable to readers and whether it should rank well.
Google search quality evaluators are instructed to pay attention to:
- The expertise of the creator of the content.
- The authoritativeness of the creator of the content, the content itself and the website.
- The trustworthiness of the creator of the content, the content itself and the website.
Why is it important to follow these guidelines? When a website adheres to them, it demonstrates a commitment to delivering accurate, reliable and valuable information. This builds trust among users, who are more likely to engage with and revisit websites that consistently provide trustworthy content. And since search engines like Google prioritize user satisfaction and strive to deliver the most relevant and reliable content in their search results, they are more likely to perceive E-A-T-verified websites as credible sources and improve their search engine rankings and visibility.
6. Grouping Authors by Expertise
If the journalist or author publishes articles about cars and suddenly starts writing about healthy eating, such an article will have lower chances of getting onto Google Discover. This is because Google search quality evaluators would consider that this author does not have any expertise or authority on the topic of healthy eating.
Remove links to all other authors in the code so as not to mislead Google and be sure to mark authors by Open Graph tag. By using Open Graph tags to mark authors, you provide explicit information to Google Discover about the individuals responsible for creating the content. This helps establish authorship and gives credit where it's due.
When authors are categorized based on their specific areas of expertise, it demonstrates a level of specialization and authority in those subjects. This can lead to better matching of your content with relevant user interests and increase the chances of your articles appearing in the Discover feed.
7. Open Graph Metadata
Open Graph metadata, also known as Open Graph tags or OG tags, is a set of markup elements that allow website owners to control how their content appears when shared on social media platforms. However, not everyone knows that besides social media, Open Graph metadata also plays a role in optimizing content for Google Discover.
When it comes to Google Discover, having well-optimized Open Graph metadata can influence how your content is presented within the Discover feed. Google might choose to show a piece of content using the og:title, og:image and og:description tags for the preview card, as well as utilize that information to determine content relevance and suitability for user recommendations.
By incorporating Open Graph metadata into your website's HTML code, you provide Google Discover with structured data that helps it understand the context and visual representation of your content. This can lead to better visibility within the Discover feed and increase the chances of your content being recommended to relevant users.
8. Content for Discover in a Separate Folder in URL
Keeping content for Google Discover in a separate folder in the URL structure of your website is recommended for several reasons.
- Organizational structure: By segregating your Discover-specific content into a separate folder, such as "/discover" or "/recommendations," you create a clear and distinct section for this content. This helps with organization and makes it easier for both users and search engines to understand and navigate your website.
- Targeted optimization: Having a separate folder allows you to specifically optimize the content within it for Google Discover. You can focus on incorporating relevant keywords, crafting compelling titles and descriptions and utilizing appropriate metadata to enhance the visibility and appeal of your content in the Discover feed.
- Technical control: Separating Discover content into a dedicated folder gives you more control over its management and technical aspects. You can implement specific caching rules, apply different security measures or apply unique performance optimizations tailored to content meant for Google Discover. It also allows you to monitor and analyze the performance of your Discover content separately, enabling better tracking and assessment of its impact.
- Tracking and analytics: By keeping Discover content in a separate folder, you can easily track its performance and analyze its impact on your website's overall traffic and engagement. You can set up specific tracking parameters or analytics tags to monitor how users interact with your Discover content and measure its effectiveness in driving meaningful engagement and conversions.
As an example: if Google can determine that all previous articles from the “https://example.com/latest/…” folder are acceptable to display in Discover, then it can trust this folder and show every new article instantly.
By implementing these recommended practices, you can enhance not only your website's technical performance but also its visibility in Google Discover, ultimately reaching a broader audience and driving more traffic to your website.