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How to Optimize & Track Google Discover in Google Analytics

Google Discover is a curated content feed inside the Google app. The app has more than 800 million monthly active users in Android and iOS phones.

How does it work?

Discover features ‘interesting’ content in its feed based on its estimate of user interests. These estimates are based on Google searches, app activity, past location information, and location preferences. Discover also has a feature where users can follow particular topics and websites to see more content from them.

What can Google Discover do for you?

Google Discover can be a way for your website to reach users interested in your niche, increase your website’s reach, and even build new customers. 

Although Google’s algorithm picks content to feature automatically, publishers do have some control by keeping the blog optimized.

Here, we will discuss how to optimize your blog to increase your chances of featuring in Discover, and also track the traffic from Discover in Google Analytics.

How to Optimize your Blog for Google Discover

Use high quality images

  • Image size should be at least 1200 px width. 
  • Although we have seen blogs with 800 px width featuring in Discover, 1200 px is the officially recommended image size to increase your chances of getting featured in Discover even more.

Enable max image preview 

This meta tag is an instruction to the crawler bot to choose the largest size of the image in a blog preview. Better image quality also impacts CTR.

Here’s what this meta tag looks like:

<meta name="robots" content="max-image-preview:large">

Make sure it’s mobile-friendly

Google Discover only works on mobile which is why it’s important that your website is mobile-friendly.

Use interesting titles

Although Google’s documentation says to not to use clickbait titles, it is common to see clickbait titled blogs featured in Discover. For the sake of user-experience, we do not recommend clickbait titles. Instead, we recommend titles that are interesting, inviting and sufficiently descriptive.

Before expecting results from Google Discover, it’s also important to give a thought to how likely a niche is to be featured in Google Discover feed of a large enough audience. 

How to Track Traffic from Discover in Google Analytics

Google Search Console has a report for Google Discover traffic. But it is not a tracking tool and does not give us any useful insights about the traffic. 

Tracking this traffic in Google Analytics can serve the greater purpose of building audiences, analyzing user behavior, and tracking conversions.

So, how do we track Discover traffic in Google Analytics? 

Google Analytics aggregates all kinds of Google referrers into source “google” and it’s not possible to tell how much of it was from Discover.

In the case of Discover, the referrer URL is very different from Google search URLs. This referrer is or 

However, when Google Analytics processes the data to generate reports, this referer gets overwritten and gets attributed to source ‘Google’. Here are some ways we can overwrite these logics and start tracking Discover traffic in your Google Analytics properties:

Method 1 (UA only): Extract Google Discover Referrals with an advanced filter

One way is to override the “Campaign Source” before the referrer data is processed. You can do this in Advanced Filters in Universal Analytics by adding this filter:


Here’s a screenshot of this filter applied in Advanced Filters:

This extracts traffic from Google Discover referer before it gets processed and aggregated in ‘Google’.

The second step is to show this traffic neatly in your reports by replacing the less intuitive string ‘quicksearchbox’ string with a more understandable string ‘Discover’.

As the data gets collected overtime, you’ll be able to see this Discover traffic in your reports.

Method 2 (Both UA & GA4): Set Page Location Field in GTM

GA4 does not have the Advanced filter option where we can override Google’s logic within GA4. However, we can override this assignment logic with UTM parameters because they take precedence over GA’s assignment logic.

There is no direct way to append utm parameters to organic listings in Google Discover, because Discover features content at its own choosing.

This is where GTM can help us to append the UTMs in-action before the data reaches Google Analytics. Here’s how:

Step 1: Append UTM parameters to the page_location field in GA4 Configuration tag

The solution is appending utm parameters to the page_location field in the Google Analytics Configuration tag in GTM. The new value of the page_location field will contain two variables: the page URL and a string ?utm_source=discover.

For this, we’ll need 2 GTM variables – the page URL and a Custom Javascript variable, ‘Overwrite_when_source_is_discover’ that returns the utm parameter we want to append.

An important point to note here is that these utm parameters should not append every time a pageview is sent, but only when the traffic source is Google Discover. Else this will mess up the rest of our data from other traffic sources. This is what we’ll make sure of in step 2.

Step 2: Only append the UTM parameter if referer is Google Discover

Create a Custom Javascript variable Overwrite_when_source_is_discover. This function will detect the referrer and match it with quicksearchbox(Discover referral) and only return the UTM parameter if the referer is Discover.

Here’s an example function that does the trick:

function () {
	var referral = document.referrer;
		if (referral.match("quicksearchbox")) {
		    return "?utm_source=discover"

Here’s how this variable will look like in the GTM interface:

Once the tracking set-up is in place, you can start seeing useful information about Discover traffic in GA4 property. 

It should be noted that in cases when the data is not a significant number, GA4 may not show the traffic source at all in the traffic acquisition report. You can however see this data in ‘Explorations’.

Google Discover can be an opportunity to reach new audiences you might not have found other platforms. Producing high quality content and optimizing it is only half the journey; it’s just as important to track what value this Discover traffic brings to you by tracking it in Google Analytics.

I'm a part of CueBlock's SEO team. I like traveling, reading, and experimenting with new ways in SEO to get the best results.

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