Web Stories for WordPress is a new plugin developed by Google.

The plugin allows you to create full screen, typable and engaging visual stories based on AMP technology.

The web stories installation process for WordPress plugins is simple.

Navigate to the official website, download the zip file and in WordPress select Plugins> Add New> Upload Plugin.

I've now spent many hours testing out Google's Web Stories for WordPress plugin.

There were many obstacles on the way that I found difficult to find answers to at the time.

This post describes nine areas I wish I knew more about before diving headfirst.

These are tips that would undoubtedly save hours of web story creation from an SEO perspective.

So far, I've personally developed two web stories with the WordPress plugin, which are available on my website and have received positive results from Google search and the Discover Feed.

Here are my top SEO tips for creating web stories in WordPress.

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1. Lack of Quality Control: A Recipe for Index Exclusion

Before I explicitly deal with the tips for the "Web Stories for WordPress" plugin, I wanted to give you an important note on maintaining the content quality of your web stories.

Because of the similarity of the social media story, I see a lot of mistakes made by website owners.

Think of a web story like any other web page on your website.

Ask yourself, "Is this something that Google likes to use to index resources?"

If you're using unoriginal content with poor quality media, I wouldn't be surprised if Google ignored that content in the search.

So if you have any problems with indexing, take a close look at your web story and re-evaluate it.

Now let's get to the tips that you are here for.

2. Google Site Kit: The Simple Answer to Google Analytics Tracking

Unless you're a developer, you don't want to mess around with trying to set up Google Analytics tracking for your web stories.

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It's WordPress, it really shouldn't be that hard.

But it is.

Since the Web Stories for WordPress plugin is still in beta, it's not perfect.

Actually, it's far from it.

Hence the obstacles I ran into creating my first web story.

To get Google Analytics working for my web stories, I used the Site Kit plugin from Google.

Some minor configurations with Google Tag Manager (creating a separate AMP tag) and I was ready to go.

Google Site Kit Google Tag Manager Web Stories WordPress Analytics TrackingThe Google Site Kit plugin enables tracking of web stories with integrations.

The integration with Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager was very easy.

The site kit has all the details you need to get things moving.

For reference, see what my Google Tag Manager container settings looked like after selecting the target platform (Accelerated Mobile Pages):

Google Tag Manager Amp Tag Web Stories WordPress Beta PluginSet up a Google Tag Manager container for AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).

Now that you've set up the one-time setup for Google Analytics tracking, we can move on to a few more tips.

But let's get one more headache out of the way: metadata.

3. Metadata: Probably the biggest web stories for WordPress Pain Point

Yes that's right.

Google did not consider the metadata functionality in the beta version of its Web Stories for WordPress plugin.

Pooh.

Currently, the title tag you use for Web Stories must exactly match the heading you set (with the exception of some minor branding functions).

Don't even let me start with the meta description.

For some reason they didn't add support to the tool or give SEO plugins a chance to customize it.

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I contacted Jono Alderson from Yoast who linked me to this thread.

Nice to see that Yoast is actively following this and adding features quickly.

Metadata Title Tag Meta Description Web Stories for WordPress Beta PluginGoogle's Web Stories for WordPress do not currently support custom metadata.

But that's exactly how it is for the time being when you use the Web Stories for WordPress plugin.

You could probably get a developer to hack into this, but that's not always realistic.

In the meantime, we have essentially very little control.

So concentrate on the content of your web story and let Google present that content in the search.

Again, not ideal.

But here are the things.

4. An important note on using HTML

Once you are familiar with the Web Stories for WordPress editor, you will find that you have a choice between a heading, a sub-heading, or a body of text.

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This is important to note.

Use each one as if you were writing your own blog article.

This is especially true when adding images with text to your web stories.

In the example below, I created the background with the photo and speech bubble in Photoshop.

However, I didn't add any text to the text in Photoshop. This was done in the Web Stories for WordPress editor.

Easily from Content to Search Engine Web Stories for WordPress Beta PluginWhen using the "Web Stories for WordPress" plugin, make sure that search engines can access content.

In this example, you can see that I used a

Tag in HTML for the balloon text.

I want Google to simply access this text and use it to rank my web story in the search.

5. Add schema markups to your web stories in WordPress

This is where Yoast comes in again.

They do this for you, just like you can on other pages on your website.

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I wouldn't mess around with adding custom schema code in WordPress if it is already there for you.

With Yoast, I can automatically add different types of schema to my web stories.

Given that Google's structured data testing tool is about to be out of date, I started using Sitebulb's replica testing tool.

It works similarly to the Google version and allows testing of URLs or snippets of code.

This is important to ensure that your schema is working properly.

Testing of structured Google data with Sitebulb version 4Test your Web Stories implementation of structured data with the Sitebulb test tool.

In the example of one of my last web stories, I am using the following schema types:

  • organization
  • website
  • ImageObject
  • Website
  • items
  • person

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The content in Web Stories is often minimal, so I believe adding schema can be of great help in terms of Google search performance.

I would suggest using Yoast when adding a schema to Web Stories in WordPress.

6. Nail your web story cover photo

While this tip applies to web stories in general, I really want to clarify this point in this post.

The cover photo used for your web story is extremely important to the success of your content in Google Search.

I have written extensively about the importance of feature images to Google Discover.

Similar principles apply here, but web stories are displayed with a different aspect ratio, which is good to note.

Google Web Stories cover image in Google search resultsHow web stories are displayed in Google search results using the feature image and the web story icon (as in the Recent tab in the Google app).

You can use Google's AMP test, which now supports Web Stories, to see how your Web Story is displayed with different types of results.

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This gives a good indication of what your web story might look like and how cropping of images works on different surfaces.

Another aspect is sharing the content on social media.

If I shared the article on the left (on CLS issues on Google) I would get the following preview on Twitter:

Twitter Card Validator for Content Web Stories WordPress BetaPreview my Web Story Cover Photo as it will appear on Twitter. Notice how the center of the image is used as a preview.

Notice how the Twitter preview cropped the preview to fit the center of the cover photo.

So, if you want your web story to be shared across social channels, make sure that the center of the image acts as a self-contained preview.

7. Make sure Web Story URLs appear in the sitemap XML

URLs in sitemaps are important for the findability of content on Google.

According to a conference I attended in 2019, Gary Illyes mentioned that they account for ~ 20% of new page discovery through Google.

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That ~ 20% is a part that you don't want to miss out on.

To make sure that your web stories are recognized by Google, the first thing you need to do is make sure that they appear in the XML sitemap.

Again, this is something that Yoast does for you with its support for web stories.

If your Web Story URLs are not showing up in your Sitemap after publishing, there is a problem.

This is what it looks like for the two web stories I've published so far:

Web Stories WordPress Beta Plugin Pages to Display in the XML SitemapIt is important that your web stories appear in the XML sitemap after they are published on your website.

The other ~ 80% for findability is due to links.

These can be links from internal pages on your own site or from external sites.

The XML sitemap is the basis for the discovery. Any other link effort can go a long way as well.

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8. Best Tools to Troubleshoot Your Web Stories

While I mentioned Google's AMP test in tip 6, which works well, there are other tools that you can use to your advantage.

This includes Google's Rich Results test, which has been found to be quite helpful in troubleshooting web stories.

However, my favorite for troubleshooting right now is right inside the Google Search Console.

There are many more features there compared to the RRT and AMP tests.

You can go a little deeper with the URL inspection tool and live test.

In this example in the Google Search Console, I'm showing some of these important areas.

Switch between viewing the HTML code, previewing the screenshot, and details like the HTTP response and more.

Google Search Console URL Inspection Tool for Web StoriesWhen troubleshooting your web stories, make sure you are using Google's own tools. My favorite for this purpose is the Google Search Console's URL inspection tool.

The Google Search Console also provides the necessary details about whether your web story was discovered and whether it will appear in search.

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If you use the "Web Stories for WordPress" plugin,

I highly recommend doing a lot of your testing and troubleshooting in the Google Search Console.

9. Track the performance of your web stories in Google Search and Discover

The main reason I got on board with Web Stories is because of the potential benefits for early adopter traffic and visibility.

I had to fully test it before recommending it to my publisher customers.

This is especially true for the Discover feed from Google, where your content can be catapulted into Discover if there is a match with the user interest and your contribution.

Glenn Gabe went into it in depth in this post – which I highly recommend (for a hand-coded approach).

In addition to the standard integration of Google Analytics, where you essentially only see page views of each web story slide and engagement metrics, there are also reports in the Google Search Console.

Web story WordPress plugin Google Discover PerformanceWeb Stories can be added to Google's Discover Feed. Check performance in Google Search Console using the Detect Appearance filter.

In the example above, you can see that there is a "Web Story" filter that can now be applied to your results in the Google Search Console.

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This feature was introduced at the same time as the support for the AMP test.

Similar to the Detect Appearance filter, you can use the Find Appearance filter to view your web stories in search on mobile devices.

This is what it looks like so far for my first web story that I created:

Google Search Console URL Inspection Tool for Web StoriesWeb Stories displayed using the Search Style filter in the Google Search Console.

The Google Search Console provides important insights into your web stories, e.g. B .:

  • Clicks.
  • Impressions.
  • Queries for which you are ranking in the search.
  • In which countries does your content appear?
  • Devices you view on.
  • And much more.

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Getting ahead with the web stories for the WordPress plugin

Overall, the Web Stories for WordPress plugin certainly has a lot of quirks when it comes to SEO. After all, the plugin is still in beta.

Aspects like Google Analytics integration and metadata are areas that Google still needs to improve. I hope they come soon.

When creating your first web story using the WordPress plugin, I strongly recommend that you keep these points in mind.

I would expect this to save hours in your creation process if SEO performance is on purpose.

The first point of this post focuses on making sure that the quality of your web stories is maintained.

As with any content on the web, this will add longevity to your post on Google Search after publication.

Keep these nine tips in mind if you're using the WordPress web story plugin, and you are on your way to a successful web story SEO strategy.

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More resources:

Photo credit

Selected & In-Post Images: Screenshots by the author, August 2020

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