An Expert Guide to Google Web Stories, Including How to Make One
Just when you thought you’d mastered all popular forms of content, there’s a new one making waves within the blogging community. Now, everyone wants to know how to make Google Web Stories. When it was first introduced as AMP Stories in 2018, the goal of Web Stories was (and remains) to “provide content publishers with a mobile-focused format for delivering news and information as visually rich, tap-through stories.” These stories appear in mobile search results and the user experience is similar to the “Story” format of other platforms.
The user taps the screen to move to the next frame of the story and for search-friendly topics (news, how-to, DIY, recipes, travel), this format is arguably more appealing than a traditional blog post. Here are some of the most common questions about Google Web Stories, answered, including the easiest way to create one.
What are Google Web Stories?
Similar in functionality to Instagram and Facebook Stories, Google Web Stories are short, frame-style embeds that appear in mobile search results.
Where can I find Google Web Stories in search results?
To be honest, I haven’t seen them appear in results for many unbranded terms, but with the adoption rate increasing from publishers, it’s only a matter of time before this content format is created for major search terms. I was able to find an example by searching for the brand Vice on my phone. If you scroll past the website rankings, news stories, the YouTube video format, you’ll see “Visual Stories.” Stories can be created using still frames, text, video files, and images.
These stories can also appear in Google Discover, which is the content feed Google attaches to their mobile apps. For example, if you use the Chrome app to power Google from your phone, you will see below the search bar, content that Google populates based on your search history.
How do I create a Google Web Story?
For WordPress users, I recommend using the Google Web Story plugin. I added the plugin to my site and can happily report that it’s very user-friendly. If you’re a content creator already making Story content for other social sites or using Canva, you’ll definitely have no problem adjusting.
Google creating a WordPress plugin to support the story format tells us that there is support behind this initiative and that Google is serious about making their creation attainable for bloggers. Some sites, such as CNN, have been creating Stories for years but I didn’t hear much about it from bloggers until about three months ago. Make sure to keep your Stories short and sweet. They should also tie to your blog posts, almost as promotion for that particular piece.
Web Stories should also have a separate XML sitemap. If you’re using Yoast, you can generate it there. Once you’ve generated it, make sure to submit it alongside your other XML sitemaps in Google Search Console.
Can I monetize Google Web Stories?
So far the data shows that this content type will not make as much money for publishers as a normal blog post. Google Web Stories allow one ad per every seven frames. So if your story is 21 frames, there’s an opportunity for three ad impressions. It’s not completely likely that a user will click to the very end, so let’s say you get two ad impressions. Add in the fact that users typically immediately click to the next frame, it may not even count as viewable. The same struggles of monetizing galleries on your site would apply here too.
And at least for the moment, the interest in this format is just picking up, meaning users aren’t used to seeing it in results and clicking on it. There is much more opportunity (i.e. real estate) for your blog posts to show up in search results than for Web Stories.
For SHE Media Partners, ads for Google Web Stories is on the roadmap. Stay tuned for more development but the main strategy for monetization remains traffic to your normal content with display ads. If you have questions on this topic, reach out to our Support Team.
Do Google Web Stories Drive Traffic?
I left the best for last, as for me personally, the most important key to this new format is the traffic-driving potential. Your website is your most valuable digital asset, and the goal should always be to get your audience back to it. The jury is still out on whether Google Web Stories drive significant traffic. Some bloggers are seeing traffic while others not so much. If you’re using the WordPress plugin, there is a field to put in your Google Analytics ID: don’t skip this step.
A few more reminders…
Clicks on your Google Web Story is not the same as traffic to your website. I’ve had conversations with our partners claiming great activity and traffic, only to find they meant clicks on the story itself. The key is to include a link in one of your Google Web Story frames to drive users to your related blog post and vice versa. Add a link to your Web Story from the actual blog post because this helps Google connect the various content types.
In Google Analytics, the traffic from Google Web Stories is wrapped into the referral source of Google Discover or Google organic, depending on where on Google the story appeared. You can find more details on breaking out the traffic further here.
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