Google Web Stories Fundamental Guide

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google web stories fundemental guide

Stories have become a recent staple of several social media sites over the past years, including Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. The visual slideshow-like feature adds another level of interactivity for users looking for fresh ways to engage with content.

Google has followed suit with their very own web stories. So what exactly are Google Web Stories and how do they work?

What Are Google Web Stories?

Previously known as AMP Stories (Accelerated Mobile Pages), Google Web Stories was launched in 2018 and shares many similarities with the Story features found on social media, except Google’s aren’t restricted to one app or website. Currently, Web Stories are only available in Brazil, India and the United States with there being plans to roll out the carousel to other countries in the near future.

The Web Stories are an innovative interface that allows users’ searches to become more interactive and engaging, providing a new level of visual learning that deals with information in a short and concise way, delivered in a pretty package for optimum usability. There is no limit to what a Google Web Story can be about.

Creators are given complete control over the design of their stories, able to choose everything from background images to video to advertisements if you want to monetize your Story. The seamless blending of different media formats helps to make the Stories more immersive and fresh so by the time a user gets to the end, the Call To Action on the final slide will look that much more appealing.

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How Google Web Stories Are Being Used

Since 2018, many brands and publishers around the globe have been using Google Web Stories to enhance their content and their image to prospective audiences. In the US, some of the biggest domains linked to Google Web Stories include USA Today, Lonely Planet and Forbes with the top 3 domains publishing stories that appear in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) being stories.mlb, Washington Post and amp.travel which came in at 48%.

These popular brands use web stories to increase their standings in SERPs and help improve brand awareness. On an average SERP, there is always at least one Story featured and never more than four and they always appear quite high on the page, making it easy for users to find them and engage with them.

Focus on Content

How to Create a Google Web Story

There are different ways to create a Google Web Story. If you know someone who is good at coding, they could make one from scratch but otherwise, there are tools at your disposal to assist you in creating the perfect Story for your business.

Search Intent in Context

Google Web Story Visual Editors

For those of you with WordPress websites, they have their very own Google Web Story plugin. Simply fill in the details on the Editors setting after installation and you’ll be good to go! It is comprehensive yet intuitive to use, making the process of creating a Story easy and accessible.

MakeStories is a good alternative for those of you who don’t have a WordPress site. They help publishers, marketers and designers to design their web stories for free, advocated for by leading brands such as Entertainment Weekly, GQ and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Newsroom AI is also a free platform creators can use to create Stories.

Search Intent in Context

Drafting the Google Web Story

After you choose your visual editor, it’s as simple as drafting the copy you want to use for your Story and finding - or creating - the perfect images and videos that will complement your content. Don’t forget that it’s a story and all stories have a beginning, middle and end. It’s important to take the user on a journey to make their experience more fulfilling and provide them with a new and original outlook on whatever query they typed into the search bar.

It is important to consider the search intent of the user while writing your copy. Some might be looking to make a transaction which can be highlighted in a Story about a certain product your business sells. For example, Samsung could do a Story on the features of one of their mobile phones. Others might simply be looking for information on a certain topic or investigating options for a holiday. Your Story will work best if it is supporting the user’s journey and adding another dimension of usefulness to their search.

When choosing images and videos for your Story, make sure they are formatted for a portrait mode and fit in a vertical screen like on a mobile phone. You don’t want to be missing half the picture in the final product. Correct formatting will go a long way to making your content appealing to users, helping it to look professional and attractive.

After that, it’s as easy as reviewing the content and hitting publish!

Search Intent in Context

Optimising Your Google Web Story

To ensure you have the perfect Web Story, it is important to make sure it is optimised for the Google search result page to help it achieve its maximum effect.

Text

A Web Story is all about the visual elements first and foremost. A general rule of thumb is for the copy to not exceed 280 characters per page. This keeps the information short and snappy so that users aren’t bogged down with too much reading and thus damaging the impact of the Web Story. As always, make sure your content is high-quality and most importantly of value, using keywords derived from your research to help with the relevance of your content. You should also ensure that your titles do not exceed more than 70 characters.

You should also make sure that the format of your Story is clear on both computers and mobile phones. You don’t want your text to be blocked so always use responsive techniques that allow you to adapt the text to different screen sizes. This also includes keeping your text within boundaries so it doesn’t overflow the screen it is being seen on. A good way to avoid text overflowing or crowding a page is to balance it out. This will help to make it easier for the user to digest and draw their eye to the important points of your Story.

Visual Content

As the visual content is the most important part of the Story, it’s important to put it front and centre. Keep in mind that Web Stories benefit from being short. When choosing or creating video clips for your Story, make sure it’s trimmed down to around ten seconds at the most. This keeps it at a manageable chunk for users, giving them enough information to engage with. You can also do this with animations. Animated sequences can breathe new life into a Story, and add a fresh contrast to live action clips so long as you don’t go overboard with it. Repeating this too much in one Story can quickly help your content to lose its novelty.

Pages

It is recommended that the number of pages on a Story be between 5 and 30, with the average often found to be somewhere between 10 and 20. This allows you to keep your Story short and sweet so that it holds the user’s attention and makes it more likely that they will watch the whole thing.

Links and CTAs

Optimising a Web Story is like optimising any other piece of web content. Don’t add too many links as this can distract your readers but putting a couple of internal links in that direct users to other pages on your site can help sell the importance of your Story to Google. Always make sure you include a Call to Action at the end as well, using phrasing like, ‘learn more’ or ‘explore more’ to invite users to investigate further into the topics connected to your Story.

Meta Data

Lastly, make sure that Google Search can crawl and index your story and don’t forget to include any metadata like titles, descriptions and Twitter cards that can help sell your content to both Google and the user.

Search Intent in Context

Research and Data on Google Web Stories

Together with SEMrush, we analysed over 1200 UK mobile SERPs with the Visual Stories search feature generated between July and August 2021. This gave us a good base point to analyse any trends with used media and text and other data surrounding Web Stories.

We looked earlier at some of the domains most popular in the US, but the data has a couple differences in the UK. Amp.travel and Jumprope still rank fairly high, but other sites like Washington Post and Forbes’ domains only appear in 1% of Stories due to being more popular sites based in the US.

We also observed that static images are the most common type of media featured in Google Web Stories, at 87.63%, with video taking up 9.31% of space with an average length of 10 seconds, a minimum of 0.2 and a maximum of 100.

Keywords are an important part of Google Web Stories.They come in at an average of three words, with a minimum of 1 (such as ‘nutella’) and a maximum of 7 (like ‘can you cook bacon in the oven’). We observed that the main keyword topics that generated visual content were recipes and travel, with fashion and games coming below them. The average Search Volume of keywords is 33,995, with the most searched keyword in the UK being ‘liverpool’ at 3 million, followed by ‘iceland’ at 2.3 million and ‘nike’ at 1.6 million.

The Call to Action is always featured on the last page with common phrasing like ‘learn more’ being used 382 times and phrases like ‘click here’ and ‘more at’ coming in at 119 and 109 uses respectively. This proves the usefulness of ending your story with the promise of a sequel if you will and helps you to identify the perfect terms to use to make the most of your Story.

Google Web Stories are starting to take the world by storm, taking what social media sites started and building on it to raise awareness of brands, impart information and encourage more user engagement to make the user’s search experience fresher and more exciting. It also adds value to your SEO strategies, increasing the chance of your website or products being found through the Stories. There is no limit with Google Web Stories. You are in control of the whole process and you can make it whatever you want it to be and make it the best out there for your topic as well.

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