- What do Google Web Stories do?
- Where do web stories appear?
- How do you create Google Web Stories?
- 10 Benefits and Uses of Google Web Stories
Google announced AMP stories back in February 2018.
This visually rich, mobile-focused content format was similar to the "Stories" functionality popular on many social media sites.
The underlying technology is based on the accelerated mobile pages, which has been somewhat controversial in the marketing world.
In May 2020, Google renamed AMP Stories to Web Stories. They state that it is a web-based version of the popular story format that developers can use to host and own their content.
What do Google Web Stories do?
Google Web Stories are a visual content format that can be displayed on the Internet.
You may find them similar to the stories on Instagram in that they allow creators to post a range of pictures, videos, and audio.
Web Stories are rated "fully immersive" by Google because they can be viewed in full screen mode.
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Some examples of Google Web Stories that brands are currently using are:
Where do web stories appear?
One thing that makes Google Web Stories quite unique among the myriad of storytelling features in apps is their ability to be seen across the web.
On your website
While Instagram stories, for example, have to be displayed on this platform, Google's web stories can be hosted on a creator's own website.
This gives publishers more freedom over what is included in the story as, unlike many apps, there are no restrictions on the content.
This also means the story can be used to drive traffic to your website, rather than in the walled garden of social media apps.
In the search results
One of the main advantages of using Google Stories over other competitors' social media story format is accessibility through the SERPs.
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Google Web Stories can be indexed like a website and used as a Google search result.
In Google Discover
In October 2020, Google announced that it would publish Web Stories to Google Discover feeds in India, Brazil, and the United States.
The list of stories, referred to as the "shelf" by Google, is at the top of Discover.
Tapping the story will bring it to full screen and the user can swipe through the list to navigate.
In your online publications
Since web stories are hosted on your own servers, the content can also be used for other digital assets such as emails and digital brochures.
On multiple devices
Although the AMP technology on which the web stories are based is designed for use on mobile devices, web stories can be viewed in browsers for mobile devices, tablets, and desktops.
This increases their usefulness as there is no need to create desktop-friendly alternatives for responsive assets such as websites.
How do you create Google Web Stories?
Google takes publishers by the hand and guides them through the creation of web stories.
There are several tools you can use to put them together and even comprehensive development notes for those who want to think more outside the box.
Web Stories Basics
Google Web Stories are essentially created in the Accelerated Mobile Pages format.
Clicking the "Developer Documents" link on Google's Story website will take you to the amp.dev How-To and Tutorials page.
Valid HTML markup is required for web stories.
They can also support optional markup to improve the user experience. For example, it is possible to use HTML markups to make the story accessible in landscape mode and render it on the desktop in a more immersive way.
When you create your web story, you need to set the metadata attributes.
These do not serve as a page title or description of the story, but rather a preview of the story in which it will be posted on the internet.
You can also add a page title, description, Open Graph data, and other elements to streamline your story for search and sharing. This is done using traditional HTML markup.
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You can use Google's AMP testing tool to determine if there are any bugs in your story.
If your page cannot be validated as a web story, there are links to documentation and how-to guides to help you troubleshoot the problem.
Third party tools
Using third-party tools, you can create your web stories without the need for a developer or design team.
Two tools that Google refers to from its Web Stories website are News Room AI and MakeStories, neither of which are run or technically supported by Google.
News Room AI offers developers WYSIWYG design functionality (what you see is what you get) and a contract with Getty Images that gives access to over 300 million images.
MakeStories offers zero-code drag-and-drop functionality to customize your stories, including access to Google fonts and “one-click filters” to edit your images.
Google partnered with WordPress to create a plugin that allows publishers to create web stories right on their WordPress site.
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Since the stories are created on the WordPress website, they are included in the site's XML sitemap so that Google can recognize them more easily.
The plugin also gives creators the ability to set their metadata for the story, including the cover photo, excerpt, and logo.
ProductStories is an app that can be used to convert your Shopify pages into web stories.
Once the app is installed, an AMP version of each product page is automatically created.
A user can choose from two different topics or request a custom topic from the ProductStories team.
10 Benefits and Uses of Google Web Stories
The format, versatility, and ease of creation of Google Web Stories make this media a useful medium for marketers.
Here are the top 10 advantages and uses of the format.
1. Under your control
Since the stories can be hosted on a publisher's website, the copyright for the content remains with them.
This means that the topics they cover are entirely at their own discretion and without the strict restrictions that are often seen on social media.
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The use of the content is also at the discretion of the publisher. Google does not take over any rights to the content.
Google has some restrictions on the content that can be published. Most notable is the policy for content that is "overly commercial".
The guidelines are well worth taking a look at before creating your first story – especially if you are going to use it for promotional purposes.
All ads that appear in a Google Web Story are controlled by the content creator.
This means that unlike the story functionality in social media apps, the monetization of the content is entirely at the discretion of the publisher.
So if you host ads on your web story, you will get 100% of the ad revenue.
Google recently released a programmatic ad solution for web stories through Ad Manager and AdSense.
3. External link
Many social media websites with similar story formats discourage content creators from linking to other websites.
This usually means that you need to be creative to link from the comments or bio.
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There are no such restrictions on linking with Google Web Stories.
4. Support Google Analytics for tracking
Since web stories behave like websites, they can be linked to analysis platforms such as Google Analytics.
This means there is a much higher level of tracking and user analysis available than with standard social media story formats.
This is an essential part of assessing how valuable web stories are to your marketing strategy.
5. Stories respond
Unlike AMP, which was specially developed for mobile devices, Web Stories can respond to any device type.
This means that there is no need to create separate content for display on desktop devices or that functionality is lost on mobile devices.
6. Can be interactive
Web Stories offer the possibility to host interactive elements such as quizzes and surveys.
This is somewhat limited by your technical skills, as this functionality is not supported by all Web Stories creation platforms.
Given the immersive nature of web stories, that extra level of interactivity could result in an engaging experience.
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7. No time limit
Unlike other Google content like Google My Business posts, Web Stories doesn't have an expiration date.
They are not automatically deleted after 7 days and are not lost in a timeline like social media accounts.
You can present your web story as long and prominently as you want.
8. Easy to index and link
Web Stories can easily be indexed by search engines.
This means that getting your content on Google's first page doesn't require any additional work beyond the standard SEO that is required to get a good website ranking.
There is also the option of it showing up on the coveted Web Stories carousel if you post content for India, Brazil or the US.
9. Use the branding style you want
There are no design restrictions other than ensuring that Web Stories meet general technical requirements.
This means that you are free to choose fonts, colors, animations and images that match your brand's style.
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10. Live stories
When you use the Live Story attribute in your web story, the user is notified in real time that you have added a new page.
This can be especially useful if you are using the format to cover breaking news or developments.
Google Web Stories is a rich, engaging content format that has great potential for marketers.
Unlike similar social media storytelling formats, web stories are not time-bound or limited to specific platforms.
It's worth exploring the brand benefits of awareness through Google products like Search and Explore.