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Person holding a smartphone in their hand and looking at an overview with a couple of Google Web Stories

The digital world never stops unleashing new content formats on its audience. And with the whole ‘TLDR’ crew and readers with the attention span of a goldfish it’s becoming more challenging to make people read your full story. After all, you've put a great amount of effort into it (doing so as I speak ;-)). But there’s a new way to bring your content to the table without researching 50 different clickbait titles before hitting the ‘publish’ button. We’ll tell you all about the Google Web Stories in this easy to digest 3 min. read.

Google Web Stories: what is it?

Since you are here, we kinda assume you know the Instagram story format (if you don’t, please contact us ASAP ;-) ). It’s a way to give information in a very short and visual way. You tap your way through each bit of information that consists of a static image or video, accompanied by an explanation. Within a few taps you get the full story. Google took over this format and is powering it via Google Search, Google Discovery and Google images Search. If you want to test it yourself, go to Google Images Search on your mobile device (yes, the Story format is only visible on your phone) and look for: "the atlantic gold fever amazon”. The video on the left shows you what the story looks like.

Why should you care as an online marketer?

Be on top of your game (and on top of the search results)

When it comes to Google, it’s all about ranking at the top of the results pages. It’s a constant battle, so as a marketer you should be on top of your game. Always. Google Web Stories is one of those formats that catches the eye and is favoured above other results. So creating stories out of your content is a way to get a better position when ranking for the top. What’s the catch? In Google Discovery and Search the feature is only rolled out in the US, Brazil and India. But wait! Google is planning to roll this out in multiple regions as it’s becoming more popular. So use this time well to prepare well for what’s coming. 

It’s all about vertical 

On our mobile phones, we are used to seeing content in vertical formats. Think about Snapchat, Instagram Stories, Reels & Instagram guides. On Pinterest we dive into more complex information thanks to infographics and even on Youtube we no longer tilt our phones to the left. It’s all about making content very visual and easy to digest, with a short attention span needed. No wonder TikTok is so popular. The vertical content you create for social media can also be reused on Google (with limited tweaking) which makes it cost-efficient. Next to that you are also able to reach a broader audience outside of social campaigns.

Use your knowledge of SEO

A large part of the success of your story depends on how engaging and relevant your content is, but also how people find their way to your story. SEO will be you main companion here and we’ll briefly give you some tips to create a SEO-proof web story:

  • Think of a teasing title for your story with high-intent keywords, but keep it shorter than 90 characters
  • Only highlight high-quality content that tells a story
  • Add the story to your sitemap and if you use a developer to create your story, don’t include a noindex attribute (so Google can sniff around and find it!)
  • Check if Google can index your Story with the Index Coverage Report and Sitemaps Report in Search Console

What makes a good story?

First let’s start with the required assets and metadata that each story should contain:

  • Your logo
  • A good and short title
  • The publisher’s info (brand name or person’s name) 
  • Static or video assets per tap
  • Copy that matches the visuals
Infographic of the outlay of a Google Web Stories, showcasing the required parts of the Story

For the assets your Go2 should be the video format, as it’s way more engaging than static visuals. We recommend using a combination between full bleed videos and static images combined with text. Limit the video duration to 15-60 seconds.

Per tap (frame) you should limit the amount of text up to 280 characters to keep it readable and easy to digest. You could integrate animations in static visuals to bring them alive, but make sure it doesn’t block the text or causes too much distraction.

Remove Call-to-actions such as “tap to continue”, since Google already suggests those actions in the story. 
Don’t over commercialise your narrative. Google won’t allow stories that are only product-focused. Neither do they allow incomplete stories (finish what you started), the usage of low-quality assets, or assets and copy that belong to someone else.

Screencap of the website where you can check if your AMP page or Web Story is valid

Useful tools to create web stories from scratch (without development)

You can choose to develop it yourself, or just sit back and relax and let tools do the work for you. Seamless integrations are provided for Wordpress, Unfold and many more. Check out this link to see the full set of tools for creating stories from scratch.
If you are more into developing your own stories, we recommend you to check out these informative development pages. 

Once you are done creating, there is one last crucial step to take into account: always check if your story is valid and eligible for appearing on Google. Click here to test if your story is ready to rumble. 

Illustration of a smartphone with the AMP logo on it

Why AMP is no longer needed when creating web stories

Normally Google only prioritises content that is AMP-proof. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. All websites that didn’t optimise for mobile first, were sent backwards in ranking for SEO. The same was true for the Story format until the Google algorithm got a new update in 2020. Now the focus of AMP is less important as all sites now need to have a general good Page Experience, not just on mobile only. 

Without getting too technical, here’s what you need to remember: create your web stories in the AMP format and focus on a good landing page experience for the pages you will publish the story on (and all other content pages too). Next to that make sure to tell the best story with high-quality visuals, and test everything before going live.

Future for Belgium 

Even though the web stories are not fully available in Belgium yet, this leaves you preparation time to integrate this into your website and let the Google algorithm pick up on your content. Use it to improve the strength of your branding with more visibility and obtain a higher ranking than your competitors.
Remember you can already use the format in Google images search so test as much as you can and see what works best for your brand.
We closely monitor all updates on this topic and hope to announce the outroll in Belgium by 2022.

Want to know more about creating stories for your brand? Feel free to drop your contact details below and we’re happy to help you.

The talents behind this project

Because teamwork makes the dream work. 

Lissa Simons

Lissa Simons

Strategist

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