How Google Completely Ruined Google Discover in 2021

Google Discover used to be great, and a brilliant source of traffic for publishers, but lately things have gone to hell, making me think Google has fudged yet another algorithm update…

Plenty of publishers, big and small, are not happy with Google. This isn’t news by itself, Google is ALWAYS moving the goalposts when it comes to search. But its latest victim appears to be Google Discover.

Google Discover users have been complaining about getting served news that is days old. For some, the entire feed is populated this way with no content that’s been published in the past few hours appearing. Refreshing the feed from the Google app does not load newer stories. Others are still getting up-to-date articles but have also noticed an uptick in older content.


Located to the left of your Android’s homescreen, Google Discover is designed to bring in the best content for you from around the web. The content is contextual, meaning it is based on your interests (or what you’ve been Googling).

How Google Discover Works

If you’re searching or researching guitars for instance, Google Discover will pull in relevant posts and articles about guitars.

For instance, I want to buy an ESP guitar. I’ve looked into it deeply, reading reviews and guides. Google knows this because I did it through search.

Now, using this information, Google will serve me “related” articles inside my Google Discover feed. This is how Discover works at a basic level.

And for a while, Google Discover was pretty useful. I’ve used Pixel phones for the last five years, so Discover was just part of my routine. I unlock my phone, go to Google Discover, and look for something interesting to read.

12 months ago, I often found useful stuff. Google Discover helped me find new information, new blogs, and get more details on stuff I was already interested in. All good stuff.

But then it all went to hell and, as usual, the reason for this is likely down to one of Google’s AI-driven algorithm updates which tend to have a habit of causing havoc every now and then.

Here’s a good example of the latest Discover drop some publishers have seen. This news publisher saw the first big drop in early March (3/2), & then dropped to literally 0 impressions and clicks on 3/22. As Google has said, don’t rely on Discover. It can disappear at any time

Glenn Gabe

Google Discover Now Just Churns Crap

The one main issue I’m seeing in Google Discover relates to how the content is sourced and curated. I don’t want to read the same article six times. But Discover thinks I do – and it serves me the same post just with a different headline from a different blog.

For instance, say I Google, the history of Black Sabbath. I find a post I like the look of in SERP and I read it. Done, right? I thought I was. But then when I open Google Discover, I have several entries about the history of Black Sabbath.

I check them out and, yep, they’re basically carbon copies of the original post I read.

Usually, the only difference is a slightly different title. Why would I want to re-read the EXACT same post again, Google?

And the really ironic thing about this is that Google is meant to be anti-spam. Like, it actively punishes blogs and websites for spamming its search engine. But when Google wants to spam you via Discover, it’s all good? Guess this is just a case of do as I say, not what I do…

I also now actively curate and tweak my Google Discover feed. I’ve blocked Far Out Magazine about 10 times and yet they show up inside my feed every single day. And so do random news articles from local newspapers in parts of the UK I have zero interest in.

I get that Google likes to test things, but Discover now just feels like a random blog post generator with little rhyme or reason behind what is shown to the user. It’s gotten so bad recently that I’ve essentially just stopped looking at it.

I thought Google designed Discover to uncover the best, new content – not the same content slightly repackaged!?

And this happens ALL the time in Discover – especially with news. Whatever you search for in Google on your phone acts as bait for Discover. It takes the keyword you used, sends it to Discover, and then Discover – for reasons unknown – thinks it is a good idea to find as many similar blog posts as it can and plop them into your feed.

It’s got so bad that I am now mindful of what I actually search for because I know if I’m not careful I’ll be reading and getting suggestions about it in Discover for the rest of the week.

Google also seems to “favor” certain blogs and sites inside Google Discover. Back in 2020, KYM used to get a fair bit of traffic from Google Discover.

How Google Completely Ruined Google Discover in 2021Pin

Nowadays we get literally nothing – a big flat ZERO.

Google has done something with Discover recently that has hurt many publishers, including us, to pretty devastating degrees. One of the algorithm updates destroyed our Discover performance. We’ve been talking to other big publishers, and many are suffering from this too.

Artem Russakovskii

Why? I have no idea; millions of people read our content, so it should appear in Discover even by chance at least once or twice a month.

So what happened? I’m not an SEO, so I don’t really know. But I do know that I used to really like Google Discover, I used to look forward to opening it, but since about the start of 2021 it has not only gone downhill but it also feels like something is just broken – it doesn’t serve the same quality content as it did before.

I haven’t changed the way I use Google search, and I have used Discover since it first landed, so my only conclusion is that Google has once again done something stupid with its algorithm.

The good news is that because this is likely algorithm-related, it can be fixed.

But Google Discover has been awful all year now, so I’m not holding out any hopes of improvements any time soon.

Google is still making its money from the ads served inside it, and the ads served on the blogs it promotes, so I guess Google doesn’t care…

How To Turn Off Google Discover

If, like me, you’ve had enough of Google Discover, thankfully, there is a way to remove Google Discover from your phone. If you want to get rid of Google Discover, just follow these simple steps:

  • On your Android phone or tablet, open your Google app
  • At the bottom right, tap More > Settings > General
  • And Then Click Turn off Discover

Google Discover will now be switched off on your phone.

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin is a leading UK technology journalist with a focus on consumer tech trends and data security. Renowned for his insightful analysis, Richard has contributed to Sky News, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 2, and CNBC, making complex tech issues accessible to a broad audience.

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