Why Discover traffic might dry up – John Mueller

4 min read
Why Discover traffic might dry up - John Muleller

Traffic is all that we need to establish our business, to get a user base for our content, and to drive more sales but there are different channels to get targeted traffic from. John Mueller recently answered a question about Discover traffic and why it disappear and why one should not rely on it as a main source of traffic.

Google Discover allows you to find the content you didn’t know you needed. It’s a whole different search experience, which means that most of the searching is gone. You may simply keep swiping to keep the fresh stuff flowing once the machine has learned enough about you.

Google recommends material to a user based on their search history and activities on their device. It examines site and application behavior, as well as location history and preferences. To develop your profile and establish restrictions on what Discover should reveal for you, you can follow certain themes or entities.

Recently a question was raised to john Mueller from a website owner of a Brazilian news site that has consistently enjoyed steady Google Discover traffic.

He explained

“We’re going through a huge drop in the delivery of our content through Google Discover.

…Google Discover is our main acquisition channel. But in the last ten days, the delivery of our content through Discover has dropped to practically zero.

Our normal audience was kind of a thousand active users in real-time. And now it’s about ninety or a hundred active users.

And we didn’t change anything technical or editorial. And our Search Console did not report any problem.”

He was unsure about this as nothing is changed from his end still he is experiencing dried-up traffic from google discover.

John Mueller began his response by stating that Google Discover Traffic is not a reliable source of traffic in general.

John Mueller answered:

“I think it’s always tricky with Discover because it’s… at least what I hear from people, it’s very binary in that either you get like a lot of traffic or you don’t get a lot of traffic from Discover.

And that also means that any changes there tend to be very visible.

So my main recommendation is not to rely on Google Discover for traffic, but rather to see it as an additional traffic source and not as the main one.”


Further, he added

“When it comes to Discover there are a few things that kind of play in there… you mentioned some of the technical things that I think are good practices.

One of the things that also plays in there is, for example, the core updates also play a role.”

The core update, according to Mueller, may have an impact on Google Discover traffic. He didn’t specify what part of a core update may affect traffic, but it’s possible that it’s anything to do with improvements to content-understanding algorithms. It could be a variety of things.

He added –

“We recently had a core update, maybe from a timing point of view that matches what you saw there.

So that’s something where if you do see an effect from the core update, then I would double-check the blog post that we have about core updates with the large number of tips and ideas that you could focus on.”

Mueller went on to say that Google’s Discover content rules have an impact on what types of content receive Google Discover traffic.

The guidelines, according to Mueller, had an impact on traffic:

“Another issue is that, with Discover, in particular, we have a set of content rules that we strive to follow algorithmically.

And, depending on the website, it may be that parts of these content restrictions apply to your website, making it borderline.

As an example… I don’t recall the exact content requirements, but I believe there is something about clickbait-y names or clickbait-y stuff in general, or adult-oriented content, for example.

And it’s possible that your website is on the fence in terms of how we judge it in that regard.

Source- Search engine journal

Then there’s the possibility that our algorithms will say, “Oh, well, a huge portion of this website isn’t accessible.”


These are some content guidelines

  • Use page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.
  • Include compelling, high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover. Large images need to be at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview: large setting, or by using AMP. Avoid using a site logo as your image.
  • Avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.
  • Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.
  • Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.


You can also monitor your performance on Discover

If you have content on Discover, you can monitor your performance using the Performance report for Discover. This report shows impressions, clicks, and CTR for any of your content that has appeared on Discover in the last 16 months, as long as your data reaches a minimum threshold of impressions. The Discover performance report includes traffic from Chrome and fully tracks a site’s Discover traffic across all surfaces where users interact with Discover. This includes impressions and clicks from the Following tab.