The story format is proving to be incredibly popular. The tappable story format started life on Snapchat, spread to Instagram and Facebook and has now been adopted by Twitter and LinkedIn to varying degrees of success.
Google has now expressed an interest in making stories a permanent feature in their mobile search results, and smart content creators would be wise to pay attention.
On January 17th, Google’s John Mueller confirmed that they would roll out Web Stories to more territories if more sites start making use of them. Web Stories are currently active in the United States, India and Brazil.
This presents a unique opportunity for content creators to get their content seen before Web Stories become ubiquitous and crowded. It’s also an excellent opportunity to set the tone, pave the way and become a pioneer of this new format. If you’re thinking about transforming your content into Web Stories, here’s everything you need to know.
What are Web Stories?
Web Stories take the AMP format one step further. A web story will blend text, video, audio, images and animation to create a more dynamic experience. Instead of scrolling through pages of text or watching a video, you tap through a story, or swipe to the next piece.
This format is very popular on social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Your website needs the AMP framework to enable stories.
Where do Web Stories appear?
Stories can appear on the Google Discover screen on Android and iOS devices. These will be in a carousel feed at the top of the feed. This content is geared towards lifestyle content such as beauty, fitness and wellness pieces.
Google is also experimenting with a Web Stories panel in the SERP. This might appear as a grid of multiple stories, or as a single result at the top of the SERP. The grid view is currently only available in English in the USA.
And finally, Google is also exploring how to turn Google Image results into stories. The results will appear as normal but those with stories available will have a small Web Stories icon. This will indicate that users can tap the result to see more.
How do you create Google Web Stories?
You will need to use a 3rd party tool to create your Web Stories. At the moment, you can use News Room AI and MakeStories to design and publish your stories.
There is also a WordPress plugin to help to seamlessly convert your content into Web Stories.
You can also manage the process on your own. Google has provided developer docs for anyone who is interested in creating their own stories.
Each of these will offer templates to get you started, but remember that everyone will have access to these templates. If you want to get noticed and start out, you should create your own designs that are in-line with your existing branding.
Google Web Stories best practice
Google has published a few guidelines that you will need to meet in order for your stories to appear in search.
As mentioned above, you need to have valid AMP markup for the story to be recognised and indexed by Google. This will allow the story to be added to the AMP cache and ensures a fast user experience.
Every story needs to contain a publisher logo, publisher portrait image, title and punisher name. This also needs to be marked up with the correct metadata.
You can then check if your story is indexed by using the URL inspection tool.
How to make the most of Web Stories
Not all of your content will be suitable for web stories, but this is still an undiscovered territory for publishers. You have a chance to experiment with different content forms to discover what is effective and what your audience responds to.