Google Web Stories are an exciting way for your company to reach and engage with your target market.
With internet-induced short attention spans and an ever-growing desire for content that’s more visual and engaging (think of the constant rise in popularity of video content), Google’s Web Stories are a highly engaging, “snackable” visual content medium.
While that all sounds great, maybe you’ve never heard of Google Web Stories, so let’s start this story at the beginning:
What Are Google Web Stories?
Google Web Stories are a series of tappable screens which showcase a combination of rich images, videos, GIFs, and text, the totality of which tell a story.
Google Web Stories, which currently must be valid Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), are visually-rich, immersive, full-screen experiences you can create and host on your website – as distinct from similar story experiences offered by Instagram or Facebook Stories which have to exist on those platforms.
Here are several examples of Google Web Stories for you to review:
- Giganotosaurus: 5 Fun Facts
- Kobe Bryant: American Basketball Player
- Cats: 10 Fun Facts
- Dogs: 10 Fun Facts
As you can see from the examples provided above, Web Stories are a modern looking format which provides digital natives (who live on their phones) with the kind of rich visual content experience they increasingly expect.
Now you’re well-versed on what Web Stories are, but how can they help with growing your business?
Benefits of Google Web Stories
Web Stories are a modern, visually appealing way for your brand to convey information and tell its stories, and to reach and engage with your target market – here’s a summary of their benefits:
- Web Stories can drive organic (SEO) traffic and conversions – they can appear in Google Discover, Google Image Search, and in Google’s search results in a stories carousel
- Web Stories exist on the open web, as opposed to a social media site’s walled garden
- If desired, Web Story publishers can sell ads right in their Google Web Stories programmatically via Google Display Network
- Web Stories are visually rich, fast loading, look great on mobile devices, and are a highly engaging way to connect with your target market
It remains to be seen how popular the web story format becomes, but the benefits of getting in now, well ahead of your online competitors, could potentially provide your busines with a defensible advantage and an expanded content footprint from which to garner new traffic & desired conversions to boost your key performance indicators (KPIs).
How Do You Create Google Web Stories?
Creating Web Stories is not particularly difficult, depending on exactly how you decide to create them, and depending on the technical proficiency of your developer resources.
Here’s the overview of your choices:
- Build from scratch
A good option if you have skilled developers and designers but is the most labor-intensive path to take.
- Use 3rd party tools
Google doesn’t endorse these tools but does mention them in their documentation. News Room AI is one of them, another is “MakeStories”. Using tools doesn’t eliminate the need for design and dev resources, but tools are helpful shortcuts and are less labor-intensive than building from scratch.
- Use the official Google Web Stories Plugin for WordPress
I’ve tested this plugin as proof of concept, and while I’m not a full-fledged developer or designer, nevertheless I found it quite easy to get up and running and made some Web Stories with this plugin. The plugin is conveniently populated with rich images, GIFs, and videos to use (you can use your own, of course). Overall, the process is very flexible and user friendly.
After you create your Web Story, you’ll need to perform validation testing. Google provides guidance on tools you can use to test here in their support document – those tools are to be used primarily if you build from scratch. The WordPress plugin provides a validation step for you to review and fix any issues found, and I’d presume that the paid tools our there like the ones mentioned above also include validation testing.
How to Make Google Web Stories in 7 steps
- Make sure your story is truly interesting and compelling
Answer for “who cares?” and “so what?”
- Create a storyboard
Sketch out the main points and story flow; good stories have a solid beginning, middle, and end.
- Choose supporting images, videos, GIFs
Use high quality, appealing graphics.
- Polish the final story
Smooth out any rough spots, finalize all aspects and flow, and finalize your story’s catchy headline, determine if call(s) to action are appropriate.
- Create your Web Story
As noted earlier, either code from scratch or use tools.
- Validate & optimize your Web Story
Ensure there are no validation issues, and optimize the URL, Title Tag, and Meta Description. Ensure you have analytics tracking properly configured for the new web page.
- Publish & promote your Web Story
Push it live on your website – congrats on your first Google Web Story! Now you can promote your web story on social media, your company blog, email campaigns, and whatever other outreach methods that are available to you.
How to Track Performance of Google Web Stories
Google Web Stories are web pages that “live” on your website, unlike other story formats that must reside on a social media platform’s website (as noted above).
That means you can track performance similarly to how you would any other web page.
Here are the ways you can track performance:
Google Search Console (GSC) (2 places to check)
- The Performance section reporting (left hand navigation) will show you impressions, clicks, average click-thru rate, and average ranking position for your Web Story pages, including by query, country, device, and “search appearance” which is where in Google’s search results your Web Story page has appeared to Google users.
- If your Web Story has appeared in Google Discover (the scrolling feed of content you can see if you open the Google App on your mobile phone), then you’ll want to click on “Discover” in the left hand navigation (note that if none of your content – Web Stories or otherwise – has appeared in Google Discover, then you may not have that navigation element available in your GSC user interface).
Your Analytics Tracking Platform
Surely you use an analytics package such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, etc. to track your website’s performance & KPIs, so no matter how you create your Web Stories (from scratch or using a tool), you’ll want to ensure you have analytics tracking in place.
Google Web Stories, again, are web pages – so you can track various acquisition, engagement, and conversion metrics for your story pages just like any other web page.
The End of the Beginning of the Google Web Stories Story
Google Web Stories provide certain advantages over other story types, and present content in a “snackable”, visually rich medium that digital natives love.
Google Web Stories have been around in previous forms for a while, but now Google has a dedicated team promoting & pushing adoption. Advertising was recently added to Web Story capability via Google Ads platform.
This is an evolving content medium that will likely grow in both popularity and features over time, so what compelling stories can you tell to engage and delight your target market to grow your business’ digital content reach?
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