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Google’s John Mueller Explains Inconsistent Discover Traffic

Referral traffic from Google Discover is likely to fluctuate, Search Advocate John Mueller explains why.

Google’s John Mueller Explains Inconsistent Discover Traffic

Google’s John Mueller offers insight into why traffic from Google Discover is likely to be inconsistent from one day to another.

This topic is discussed during the Google Search Central SEO hangout recorded on February 5.

A question is submitted from a site owner concerned about their referral traffic from Google Discover. They say it fluctuates wildly despite no significant changes being made to the site.

Further, the site’s traffic from search results is growing even while traffic from Discover drops off at times. They ask Mueller what could be causing this type of pattern.

In response, Mueller says the fluctuating traffic is not caused by anything in particular. It’s the nature of Google Discover.

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John Mueller on Google Discover Traffic

Anecdotal evidence from site owners suggests traffic from Discover tends to be “on” or “off,” Mueller says.

Google’s systems may decide one day it makes sense to show certain content in Discover, and other days it doesn’t make sense.

It’s common for a site to receive an influx of traffic from Google Discover and then have the traffic go away.

“It’s really hard to say without looking at the site. But in general, when it comes to Google Discover, one of the things that I’ve noticed from feedback from folks like you all is the traffic tends to be very on or off.

Our systems might think it makes sense to show this more in Discover, and then suddenly you get a lot of traffic from Discover. And then our algorithms might at some point say it doesn’t make sense to show it that much in Discover anymore and then the traffic goes away.”

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Traffic from Discover tends to be more erratic than traffic from search because it’s not tied to a specific query, Mueller says.

It’s hard to predict with any degree of accuracy how much traffic a site should expect to receive from Discover. It’s not known how many people browsing Discover are interested in a particular topic.

It’s great if a site is receiving a lot of traffic from Discover, but Mueller says it’s important to realize this could change quickly.

“And especially with Discover it’s something which is not tied to a specific query. So it’s really hard to say what you should be expecting because you don’t know how many people are interested in this topic or where we would potentially be able to show that.

So that’s something where, if you do see a lot of visibility from Google Discover, I think that’s fantastic. I just would be careful and kind of realize that this is something that can change fairly quickly.”

Lastly, Mueller points to a help center article which lists what Google wants to avoid showing in Discover and what it wants to show more of.

I believe the article he’s referring to is this one. It may or may not be relevant to all sites, but it’s something to double check if you’re concerned about fluctuating traffic.

“Additionally we also, for Discover, we have a help center article that goes into what kinds of things we watch out for. And, in particular, what kind of things we don’t want to show in Discover.

So that’s something that you might want to double check. Depending on the site you have that’s something that might be more relevant or less relevant. But I would definitely check that out.”

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Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below:

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Matt Southern

Lead News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt ... [Read full bio]

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