Our data on the content that drives Google Discover traffic and engagement

As Google Discover continues growing into a major source of traffic for publishers of all sizes, there remains mystery around how exactly Google selects content for it. While some elements will always be closely guarded, we’re gaining more insight about the platform every day that can help editorial teams optimize their content.

After adding Google Discover to our Real-Time and Historical Dashboards earlier this year, we’ve now collected over 9 months of data across the 60,000+ sites in our network. With the help of our Data Science team, we analyzed this research to uncover which regions get the most traffic from Discover, how long audiences engage with this content, and which categories and topics perform best on the platform. Here’s what we found.

Quick Refresher: What is Google Discover?

Google Discover is the feed of articles that appears in the Chrome app on Android mobile devices when you open a new tab, and in the Google Search App as a tab called “Discover.” It differs from Google Search in that it serves articles to users based on their interests and behavior rather than as a response to a specific query.

Discover trends across the world

When we look at Google Discover traffic across the world, the percentage of traffic varies by region. Publishers in Asia / Pacific, for example, have seen as much as 60% of pageviews come from the platform at times, and Latin America isn’t far behind with an average of 48% of pageviews between June and November. 

North American publishers, on the other hand, saw far fewer pageviews from Google Discover at only 24%. As we know from our global audience insights, Asia and Africa generally see more pageviews from Mobile, and since Discover is a mobile-first experience this may account for some of the difference.

Audiences engage more with Google Discover content

Google Discover traffic in all regions had a higher Average Engaged Time than the worldwide average of 28 seconds during the same period. Though North America had the smallest share of pageviews from Discover, it had the highest Average Engaged Time at 41 seconds. Latin American audiences were close behind with 39 seconds of Average Engaged Time and EMEA and APAC both averaged 36 seconds.

The topics and categories that perform best on Google Discover

To better understand which topics and categories perform well on Google Discover, we analyzed articles with a high percentage of pageviews from the platform in three of our largest areas of coverage – North America, Brazil, and the British Isles.

Previous research related to how widely visitors read across news and media sites showed that the most popular categories in our network are “Crime, Law, and Justice” and “Economy, Business, and Finance.” 

Though we do see representation of these popular categories in Google Discover traffic in these regions, we also see categories like “Arts, Culture, and Entertainment,” “Lifestyle and Leisure,” “Weather,” and “Health.” In fact, the only overlapping category for all three regions is “Arts, Culture, and Entertainment.”


Takeaways from the research

Like Search, Google Discover’s criteria for selection will continue to evolve, and publishers will have to get comfortable with that discomfort. At the same time, we’ll continue to tap our network for insights that make keeping up with these changes a little easier. Here’s a recap of what you need to know to take advantage of Google Discover today:

  • As Google Discover grows in importance, its effect is more pronounced in some regions. APAC and LATAM currently see a much larger share of pageviews from the platform than North America.
  • Articles that succeed on Google Discover tend to be more niche and timely. Huge stories like the Titan submersible will show up wherever news is consumed, but it’s also clear that topics like art, entertainment, lifestyle, and health also resonate with the selection criteria for Google Discover and can help tap into the growing referral power of the platform. 
  • Personalized recommendations lead to higher engagement. In the third quarter of 2023, the worldwide Average Engaged Time was 29 seconds and the average for content served via Google Discover was 37 seconds. The tailored recommendations that Discover is known for has proven to keep readers on the page longer and is a tactic that can be utilized elsewhere in your audience engagement strategy.

Want to see how your content is performing on Google Discover? Sign up for a complimentary demo of Chartbeat.

More in Research