The “Stories” format that Snapchat and Instagram introduced quickly set off a storm on social media platforms. This short-form video content became an instant favorite, and it’s one of the most used social media features to date. Now, Google is on a mission to bring the Stories format to the web, and they are doing it with “Google Web Stories.”
For years now, the quick and disappearing format of Stories has been a favorite for many users. In short, it’s a way to share and engage with transient content. Stories are usually interactive experiences with full-screen visual content – most often videos, images, and sometimes text that last up to 60 seconds. Because the content disappears after 24 hours and because it’s very interactive, Stories are a great format for quick entertainment and are a way for people to share opinions and interact with one another more easily than regular, “long-form” video.
What will Google Web Stories be like? Why should you consider using them for your business?
What are Google Web Stories?
Google Web Stories is a new format introduced by the tech giant that aims to get the same kind of success that the Stories content gets on almost all social media platforms. However, unlike typical Stories on social media, which are usually confined to that one singular platform and with limited customizations, Google Web Stories will give creators the ability to host these creations wherever they like, while also giving them full creative control (well… almost).
Creators will be able to host their own Google Web Stories on their websites (not only on social media), and they will be able to monetize them by using functions such as Google Ads and Call-To-Action buttons. By utilizing individual Story panels, creators can incorporate videos, text, and photos to make a Story with a special click-through experience for the viewer. Unlike social media platforms, Google gives creators complete control of the entire process and full ownership of the end product.
Here is what Google Web Stories will look like:
When you search for “football games this weekend” on Google, instead of seeing only text and a few photos, Google Stories will also pop up! Furthermore, when you’re on a website, you can find the Stories along with the usual pictures and blog content. As an audience member, you will be able to see Stories from the search engine, from Google images, and from Google Discover – an app available on both iOS and Android devices.
What this means to you is you will now be able to experience story-format visual content not only on our normal social media platforms but across the entire web! For creators and businesses, this is an additional marketing and exposure opportunity, where you can also earn additional income from their websites. It will also give social media influencers another source of income that’s not tied to a particular platform.
Google Web Story Successes
In our opinion, when it comes to learning about new features and platforms, there’s nothing better than hearing real-life examples. To give you a visual, here are a few examples of how Stories are already being used:
Cooking recipes can easily be captured with Stories. Instead of writing long blog posts or long-form videos, food content creators can utilize Google Web Stories to showcase the recipe in a quicker format. The story that you can see below shows viewers how to make Japanese curry (warning: it will make you hungry). You can watch the video at your own pace and tap whenever you’re ready to see the next step. Additionally, the captions make the video even easier to follow at your speed.
That’s just one example! Google Web Stories aren’t just great for recipes. They’re also a terrific way for educational websites to create engaging content. They can help turn even the most boring content (no offense, math) into something fun and relevant for the audience. The fact that viewers control the pace of the Story sequences makes it easy for them to digest the information.
A popular format for blogs and articles is called “listicles”. They’re made to help consumers understand a website’s or an influencer’s recommendations in a list format. Google Web Stories is an engaging and familiar way to give this type of content new life. Stories are usually more fun than a plain list, which allows you to get more creative with the shots, the music, stickers, and anything else that you want to use.
How to Create Google Web Stories
Just like with any other type of content, the first thing you need to consider is your brand image. What do you want to showcase to your target audience, what objectives do you want to achieve with the help of Google Web Stories, and how can you best leverage their potential?
If you decide to utilize this new format, it’s a good idea to sit down with your team and create a storyboard or a plan for how you want to use Google Web Stories. That typically includes deciding what kind of content to make, whether to use CTAs (call to action), and whether to use Google Ads. If you want to use visual content such as photos and videos, this is also the time to create your marketing plan and map out your content creation time, since some visual content requires more time and effort than others (think video vs lists).
What Tools Do You Need to Create Google Web Stories?
One of the coolest things about Google Web Stories is the freedom they give to creators. You can use various tools. integrations, and plugins to create your content. Most of them are really simple to use, as they have a drag-and-drop interface. Additionally, some offer pre-made templates that you can follow, which is super useful when you’re just starting out with the platform.
Web Stories for WordPress
WordPress powers almost 40% of the world’s websites, so the chances that you’re using this platform are high. That’s why Google’s most popular tool for creating Stories is WordPress’s native plugin. This tool has a simple drag-and-drop interface; its installation is the same as with any other plugin. After you install it, you can create Stories directly from WordPress’s interface. It integrates with the platform’s Media Library so that you can use all of the videos and photos you’ve already uploaded to your website.
Additionally, templates are available for you to use if you lack inspiration. Once the Story is created, you can easily embed it into any post or page. This plug-in is an obvious choice for all websites that run on WordPress.
MakeStories is an easy-to-use Google Web Stories editing app that offers you more than 100 templates to choose from. This tool has all of the usual drag-and-drop functions, including typography and animation options. It also includes a ton of free images, videos, shapes, and icons to choose from. This tool is even better because it makes sure your Stories are SEO-compliant with the right meta titles, and the tool measures your Stories’ performance.
This app also has a WordPress Plugin! If your site is not running on WordPress, you can export the Story in a zip file and publish it directly on any website
This is one of the market’s oldest Google Web Stories editing apps. It has created over 1 million Stories, and well-known companies such as The Guardia, Forbes, and Lovely Planet use it. The tool has a paid and a free version, both offering an array of features designed to make your stories perform even better.
The free version of the app has a drop-and-drag interface with a ton of free shapes, icons, images, and templates. The paid version, on the other hand, offers you control over Google Ads and allows you to host the Stories on your own domain. NewsRoom AI is straightforward to use – you just have to create an account, log in, learn a few ins and outs, and start using it! The platform is pretty intuitive, and you have a lot of freedom to be as creative as you like.
Other Tools You Can Use
The apps we just discussed are some of the most popular ones for creating Google Stories. There are others that aren’t that widely known but are still incredibly useful:
- Join Stories
- Product Stories
- Viqeo Studio
- Storify Me
- Visual Stories
These tools have free versions and offer you a ton of templates, icons, shapes, and images to use from the get-go. They also have an intuitive interface with the beloved drag-and-drop feature (seriously, it just makes life easier).
If you want to take things to the next level, you can also code your own Stories. AMP Technology (the ones used for Web Stories) is open source, and there are step-by-step guides online on how you can create your own Stories using custom tools and codes. This is great for businesses that are more tech-savvy and want to have even more control over their Stories without relying on any third-party platforms.
Good Practices to Follow for Google Web Stories
Now that you know the basics of Google Web Stories and how you can make them, let’s discuss some best practices that you can follow so that your content will always bring you the desired success.
Even though the Stories format is super engaging, it can turn off your audience if not done right. But if you keep our advice in mind, everything should run smoothly.
Use Videos Whenever You Can
We can discuss it all day long, but the reality is that people love watching more than reading. Telling any story with the help of a video is always the best option, and you should choose it instead of using photos or text. Make videos in portrait mode or in portrait ratio (9:16) to create a truly terrific experience. Avoid landscape videos as they normally don’t fully occupy the screen, and always use high-quality clips and images (blurry is a no-no).
If you need to crop the video so it fits in the ratio, make sure you keep all the vital components intact. Pro tip: use clips of up to 15 seconds per panel, and the whole video shouldn’t last longer than a minute.
Always Have a Narrative
Just stating facts won’t make for an exciting video, even if you use the best clips possible. State your story or opinion with your audience and keep it engaging by building suspense from one panel to the next; after all, you want to keep the audience tapping to see the next slide too soon.
It’s also important to keep your Stories relatable and exciting to your audience – encourage people to share their perspectives and discuss topics they would find interesting.
Avoid a Lot of Text
Reading is not trendy (but we’re sure glad you’re doing it right now!). Long-form text is just not a crowd favorite anymore. When sharing a Story, there are times when you will need to have panels composed entirely of text. In such cases, it’s good to use different fonts and styles in order to keep the audience focused. You should avoid having multiple slides of text that look basically the same. Play with the font, the colors, the style, and even the background photo. Again, if you can avoid doing all text, then include photos or images. Try to keep the text clear and concise; avoid long sentences, complex words, and so on.
Use Animations, But Tread Carefully
Animations can definitely make Stories more visually engaging for the audience. However, it’s vital that you don’t overdo them. If you have multiple animations that repeat themselves, that can annoy the viewer and make them stop watching. Additionally, when you use preset animations, ensure they align with the Story you’re presenting. Are you looking to provoke the audience or just shock it? Keep that in mind so that the animations you use suit the storyline you’re trying to tell.
Don’t Forget About SEO
Google Web Stories aren’t all that different from other web pages, and the kind of SEO (search engine optimization) practices you need to follow are pretty similar. Creating engaging, high-quality content that keeps the audience interested is the number one objective. This will keep them coming for more, and so it will naturally impact your site’s SEO score.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to keep the Stories titles short and descriptive – around 70-90 characters or less. It’s vital to attach metadata structure following the provided guidelines (see here) and also to add support for landscape displays. Use alt text for your picture, and make sure to use subtitles for your videos.
Link your Stories to as many pages as you can, including your sitemap, so that Google can discover them. The good thing is that most of the tools for creating Google Web Stories that we discussed already have built-in SEO functionalities that meet all these basic requirements.
Ensure Your Google Web Stories Are Valid AMP Pages
You have to keep in mind that Google Web Stories are AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and should pass all the AMP requirements. An AMP is an open-source project created to improve the performance of web pages for mobile devices. You can use an AMP validator tool to check if there are any errors you need to fix.
Use Specific Call-To-Actions
If you’re re-creating a Story that you used for social media, you should make sure the CTAs are the right ones. Some of the CTAs specific to social media platforms won’t work on Google Web Stories, and you will have to change them.
When using CTAs for your Google Web Stories, you should ensure viewers won’t have a hard time understanding what you want them to do. By using CTAs, you can make your audience click on more Stories, make a purchase, or subscribe to a newsletter.
Use a Thumbnail
Your thumbnail – or the first panel of your Stories – should be eye-catching. After all, it’s the thing that will make your audience interested in tapping on the next slide and looking through your content. Also, make sure that you follow all the best practices we mentioned prior to this one. After all, balancing text placement and using high-quality videos and images are still important, as they’re what truly make your content great.
You should also avoid using a misleading cover – your first panel should remain relevant to what you’re saying in the rest of the panels. Misleading your viewers might get them interested a few times, but it will ultimately disappoint them and make it less likely for them to return to your website.
Why Do You Need to Use Google Web Stories?
If you’re still uncertain about using Google Web Stories, then here are some stats that might convince you. For example, according to a Forrester Consulting study, about 64% of U.S. customers prefer viewing mobile stories over reading a long article. Along with that, 74% of smartphone users read or view Stories weekly, even if they don’t post any. Most of them feel like Stories are engaging, easy to navigate, and interesting.
Other Benefits of Google Web Stories
Google Web Stories are still relatively new. However, they open up a lot of opportunities for creators and businesses. Consider the following benefits of Google Web Stories before crafting your new content strategy:
Gain New Audiences
Google is the most powerful search engine on the Internet, hands down. When you create Google Web Stories, you’ll appear on both Google Images and on the search pages, which automatically means that more people will be exposed to your content. You’re not limited to a particular social media platform.
Because you can use CTAs on your Google Web Stories, you can build a better relationship with people in your audience by encouraging them to go on your website, follow your social media channels, or subscribe to a newsletter.
Be More Creative
Everyone hates ads, and all marketers know it. However, when timed correctly and if they flow cohesively with the narrative of the content, then there is a lesser chance your audience will be turned off by the ads. Additionally, Google Web Stories enable you to choose your ads; you can insert ads into your Storyline that match your style. Set it up so the ads flow naturally and give the Story a smoother experience.
Another benefit to Google Stories is the ability to utilize ads to make your audience purchase a product, subscribe to a newsletter, or install an app. You can also integrate Stories with Google Adwords and other ad opportunities.
Get a Website With an Immersive Experience
When you have immersive content, people are more likely to feel like they’re a part of the narrative. Stories give them that by providing a full-screen experience with no distractions. Meaning, if your website has been slacking recently, Google Web Stories can make it fresh and dynamic again..
Own the Content
Unlike what you post on social media platforms, you have full control over your Stories on your website. You can decide how and when to distribute them and whether to share them with your audience or embed them on your website. You can also host them using a hosting service, either your own or one from the tool which you use to create the Stories. You’re in control of how long you want your audience to be able to view them.
The Bottom Line
Google Web Stories is one more step forward in the evolution of visual content. Ever since Snapchat was first introduced more than a decade ago, it has attracted the attention of all social media platforms, and they’ve all had their own version of it in recent years.
Unlike all of those social media formats, Google Web Stories can be accessed on the open web, not just an app. By using intuitive tools, creators can make Stories from scratch and use them to engage their audience and earn clicks and visits to their websites.
We hope the knowledge you gained from this article will help create your next marketing and content creation plan! If you want more tips and advice, head on over to our social media profiles, where we share information daily that might come in handy as you build your brand.