If you are part of the vast majority of people who notice a big drop in traffic after each adjustment to Google’s algorithm, you are not alone. Every time Google’s search engines so much as sneeze, tissues come out everywhere online. Google Chrome content suggestions or “Articles For You,” however, are Google’s version of opening a window right after they’ve slammed a door. This free feature on mobile devices can mean big boosts of traffic to your website: if you know how to optimize for Google Chrome content suggestions. Here’s what we know.

What are Google Chrome content suggestions?

Google Chrome content suggestions (also known as “Articles for You”) are a relatively new feature to Google that you might notice on your mobile phone.

For Android phones, Chrome is the default web browser. When you launch Chrome, you’ll notice a list of articles below the widgets for sites you frequently visit. These are Chrome “Articles for You” suggestions, and they are responsible for generating more traffic than you think. Chrome unveiled “Articles for You” on Android phones first, but iOS users can also swipe up to see more recommendations through the Chrome app.

The purpose of this feature is to capture the attention of the nearly three billion people worldwide using smartphones. The entire experience is geared towards faster mobile browsing that is tailored to each user’s time on the internet. More and better content keeps people engaged for more time.

What are traffic rates from Google Chrome content suggestions?

In terms of traffic, Google Chrome content suggestions is nipping at the heels of other strong sources of referral traffic. Ranked 4th behind Google search, Facebook, and Twitter for some sites, “Articles for You” traffic for mobile searches alone has grown 2,100% since 2017 (increasing from an estimated 15 million visits per month to 341 million).

For a Google feature that many people don’t really know or understand (or consider as a referral source), those are pretty intense numbers!

It is also important to note that the Google Chrome web browser gets 62% of the market share (over other browsers like Firefox and Mozilla). This means that it makes good sense to optimize your mobile site for Google Chrome content suggestions.

How to optimize for Google Chrome content suggestions

We have to be honest: even though Google Chrome content suggestions launched in 2016, there isn’t a whole lot of information on how to specifically optimize your site for them. Google has kept its algorithm under wraps, and it seems largely a mystery how one article is chosen over another.

Don’t despair, though.

Optimizing your website overall is the best way to drive traffic to it, regardless of whether or not it appears in Chrome “Articles for You” suggestions. Here are five ideas for how to optimize for Google Chrome content suggestions.

1. Build AMP pages from the ground up

One thing Google does focus on is Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Recognizing that mobile users expect the same speed on their phones as they get from their laptops, this Google project focuses on lightning-fast mobile pages. Images and other page features load only when a user scrolls over them, and this (among other things; see #2) results in a more agile mobile experience.

The best way to start with these is to follow Google’s own tutorials, including how to create your first AMP page and how to convert an existing HTML page to be AMP compliant.

It is important to note that 72% of the “Articles for You” are AMP pages. This means that if you want to be included in Chrome “Articles for You” suggestions, you have to convert at least some of your web content to AMP pages (if not all of it).

2. Follow Google’s own designs for speed

These are the technical bits that you can handle or may need to send over to a web development expert. Google’s suggestions for AMP pages include:

  • Using asynchronous JavaScript (so the content is never interrupted)
  • Stating the size of all resources in the code (so AMP knows how big the asset is)
  • Identifying custom tags in the HTML
  • Using one inline style (to block HTTP requests that slow the page down)
  • Optimizing your web fonts

We know: many of these suggestions require technical expertise beyond your average person or even business owner. Asking for help with these can save you a lot of time and heartache (and money!).

3. Become a storyteller

AMP Stories is another feature from Google that brings a more visual component to your mobile site if your content is the right fit.

Seemingly modeled on Instagram and Facebook stories, AMP Stories are also capable of driving traffic. Users can scroll through, pausing on the stories that grab their attention and clicking to go to an expanded version of the story that’s full of graphics and swipe-through content.

4. Track your analytics

In your Google Analytics, you may have noticed this referral source (if you’re lucky!): www.googleapis.com/auth/chrome-content-suggestions.

This is the referral path of Google Chrome content suggestions. Any time you make any changes to your website, it’s important to track how it affects traffic and Chrome “Articles for You” suggestions is no different.

Checking out your Google analytics falls under the larger umbrella of digital marketing reporting that tracks all behavior and interactions on your website to better tailor the experience to what readers or potential clients are looking for. If you find a certain type of article or post that shows up in these content suggestions, it may make sense to run a similar type of article in the future.

5. Content, content, content

Ultimately, even if your pages follow the Golden Rules of AMP, if your content isn’t good, your traffic will slow down to a trickle. Sure, good design on the backend matters to Google, but ultimately digital marketing is not about clicks or pageviews, it’s about finding the readers who are already looking for the content you provide.

Whether you’re a small business, a healthcare clinic, media outlet, or other content producer, focus on what positions you as the trusted expert in your field and start there.

With curiosity high and competition for traffic fierce, Google Chrome content suggestions may transform the way mobile users find content. At Boost, we can help you navigate this brave new world and help your business’ content show up first-page for mobile users.

Get in touch today to learn more about optimizing your web content!