On January 27th, social media app Snapchat released a new feature called “Discover,” which delivers short, snap-like news stories to users directly on the app. Large media outlets like CNN, ESPN, and VICE have signed on with the feature, and it could very well change the way publications are delivered.
As reported on Search Engine Watch, Discover enables users to “swipe” for stories that catches their eye. The stories are either traditional text articles or short videos that usually last no longer than 10 minutes. Publications that opted into the program offer content directly. There are no external links or recycled content, and according to Snapchat’s website, the stories are refreshed every 24 hours.
Though this may be welcome news to Snapchat users as well as certain publications, other tech users aren’t necessarily receptive. One tech component in particular, search engines, may have to undergo serious changes to adapt to the new feature.
Google, for example, does not take Discover content into account when processing inquiries. Because the content itself is not offered on the Internet, Google and other search engines simply won’t pick it up and, therefore, can’t rank it.
Snapchat’s new approach of creating content exclusively for apps will inevitably change the way search engine optimization (SEO) operates. Because the content won’t appear in any search engine results, SEO marketers will have to create new strategies and programs to garner attention from these apps — many of which have rudimentary search capabilities, if any. In addition, because these apps are brand new, they are prone to rapid changes, making SEO efforts to attract these apps considerably challenging.
“Though exclusive content with a fresh look is enticing to the end user, if the search engines can’t deliver the best results, then SEOs will need to find an entirely new method for getting their content discovered within these type of apps,” says Clayton Thompson of MyNetWire. “The jury is out on whether this will be widely recognized, but it’s an adapt or die mentality in the technology sector.”
Other social media apps and sites are already starting to consider exclusive publishing content on their platforms. This is causing many publishers to feel that they stand to lose control over their content on multiple platforms. In addition, users may experience frustration as this trend continues. Exclusive content on multiple apps and websites inaccessible to traditional search engines may render finding the right content difficult.
One way publishers and SEO marketers can adapt to these kinds of features is, first and foremost, to play with Discover to become familiar with how it works and the content it offers. They would also be wise to pay close attention to Snapchat’s future developments, as well as those of social media apps and even Google. It is thought that if this trend continues, Google will offer publishers a way to submit app-hosted material content to them.
Regardless, if successful, Discover may revolutionize the way users use apps, social media apps design themselves, publishers produce content, SEO campaigns operate, and Internet users find content online.