When Google releases a major algorithm update, it can take weeks or months to fully understand the effect. Google itself tends to be tight-lipped about the updates, preferring to point website owners and businesses to its general webmaster guidelines for advice on an update. 

Because of all this, we are just starting to grasp what Google’s recent algorithm updates did to search engines. One thing that has become quickly apparent, though, is that one of the biggest losers from Google’s 2020 algorithm updates has consistently been online piracy. 

This is most clear in a new end-of-year report from TorrentFreak and piracy tracking company MUSO

How Google’s Algorithm Updates Affected Digital Piracy

Overall, the analysis shows that site traffic to piracy sites from search engines has fallen by nearly a third from December 2019 to November 2020. Notably, the two big periods leading to this loss of traffic line up perfectly with Google’s algorithm updates earlier this year. 

In January 2020, piracy traffic began dwindling shortly after the January 13th core update. 

After experiencing a short uptick at the start of the COVID pandemic in March, the May 4th core update then hit online pirates even harder, sending piracy traffic plummeting. 

Early indications from the public and some analysts suggest the December 2020 core update continued this trend, though it is too early to know for sure. 

Interestingly, TorrentFreak and MUSO say they corroborated the findings of their report with operators of one of the largest torrent websites online:

“To confirm our findings we spoke to the operator of one of the largest torrent sites, who prefers to remain anonymous. Without sharing our findings, he reported a 35% decline in Google traffic over the past year, which is in line with MUSO’s data.”

Is Google Completely Responsible?

It should be noted that while Google’s algorithm updates likely played a large role in the decline of search traffic to piracy sites, other factors almost certainly contributed as well. 

TorrentFreak’s report shows that direct traffic to piracy-related sites experienced a gradual 10% decline over the course of the year. This may suggest overall interest in pirating content may have fallen somewhat on its own. 

Additionally, 2020 was a unique year with less content coming out than usual. The COVID pandemic disrupted pretty much every industry, including creative industries. Music releases were pushed back or cancelled as it became difficult to safely record in studios. The closing of theaters led to the delay of many major movies, and TV creators had to completely rework how they wrote and filmed their shows. 

With less content from major studios and artists, it is highly likely users just had less available content that they were interested in pirating. 

Why This Matters

The good news is that the vast majority of business-related websites have absolutely nothing to do with online piracy and therefore should be safe from these effects of Google’s most recent algorithm updates. 

The less good news is that Google’s core algorithm updates are designed to impact a huge portion of websites around the globe, and certainly had impacts outside the realm of digital piracy. 

Still, we felt it important to highlight a real-world way a major Google algorithm update can impact an entire industry on a wide-scale within search results. 

Ultimately, the takeaway for most website owners is that keeping an eye on your analytics is essential.

If you are watching, you can respond to major shifts like this with new strategies, optimization, and even ask Google to recrawl your site. If you aren’t monitoring your analytics, however, you could lose a huge chunk of your traffic from potential customers with no idea why.

I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that 2020 changed everything for businesses around the world – no matter what industry you are in. The spread of COVID-19 accelerated the migration of small and local businesses to the internet, making having an online presence no longer an option but a necessity. 

In turn, these changes have had a massive impact on digital marketing, driving a wave of new competition and seismic shifts in how we connect with customers every day. 

For better or worse, many of these changes are bound to stick around well into 2021, influencing the ways we shop, advertise, and connect with customers for the foreseeable future. 

With this in mind, predicting next year’s search trends is a little easier than it has been in the past, with some clear indicators of what businesses need to do to stay relevant and efficient in a post-COVID world. 

The 5 Online Marketing Trends You Need To Know In 2021

The Effects of COVID Will Linger

The most obvious trend brands will need to be prepared for in 2021 will continue to be the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While vaccinations are finally rolling out and we can be optimistic to relatively soon be returning to something resembling normality, it is also clear that many shopping habits and consumer behaviors are permanently changed. 

For example, virtual events and trade shows are all but guaranteed to stick around. Now only do they provide an easier and more affordable way to bring together top members of your industry from around the country, they do it without massively interrupting your day-to-day operations. 

Likewise, many customers will continue to prefer using online ordering and curbside pickup from local businesses out of convenience well after social distancing is a thing of the past. 

Social Media Purchasing Goes Mainstream

For years, social media has been a major tool for consumers to find and learn about new products they otherwise would have never known about. Recently, though, they have been expanding to allow shoppers to not just find products, but to buy them right then and there. 

The ease of going from discovering something cool to making a purchase without ever having to leave your current app is fueling a rush to provide the best social shopping experience and this trend is only going to get bigger in 2021. 

We Are Past Peak Facebook

Facebook has been the undeniable king of social media for more than a decade now, but the platform has been facing increasing challenges that are getting hard to deny. 

In sheer numbers, the social network still far outranks any other platform out there, but a growing number of its users are aging, with younger demographics turning to hipper alternatives like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. 

Add in the continuous issues with the spread of fake news, concerns about echo chambers, a relatively recent data breach scandal, and recent calls for the breakup of Facebook’s extended network of services (including Instagram and WhatsApp) – it quickly becomes clear Facebook is past its prime and is no longer the single platform you should be focusing on. 

Video Content Is The Standard

For the past few years, my year-end lists have consistently included one thing – video content has been increasingly important for brands looking to maintain effective marketing and outreach. 

Well, call 2020 the tipping point, because video content is no longer “on the rise”. It is the standard and it is here to stay. 

While blog content remains important for technical SEO and connecting audiences with some specific types of information, the data makes it very clear that consumers prefer the quick, digestible, and entertaining nature of videos over long, often repetitive blog posts. 

At this point, rather than clicking to your blog page shoppers are more likely to check out your YouTube and Instagram page when trying to find out the details of what you offer and why they should choose you over the competition. 

Mobile SEO Is Now an Oxymoron

Since Google introduced its “Mobile-First Search Index” the writing has been on the wall. Having a mobile-friendly website was no longer an option or convenience. Mobile-optimized websites were quickly becoming the first thing anyone – including search engines – were likely to see when checking out your brand. 

With the recent announcement that Google would be dropping all desktop-only websites from its primary index starting in March 2021, the final nail is being pounded into the coffin. To be included on search results from the biggest search engine in the world, your website must be compatible with all the current mobile-friendly standards. 

With all this in mind, the age of considering separate SEO tactics and strategies for mobile users is long gone. There is just “SEO” and you must plan for mobile users if you want to have a chance of succeeding. 


We are all hoping that 2021 is a little less chaotic and a bit smoother than the past year has been. Still, even if we have the most tranquil year in history, there are bound to be a number of surprising new twists and factors in how Google ranks websites and content for users. If you want to remain competitive in an increasingly digital world, it is important that you stay up to date with all the latest from Google and be prepared to respond. 

Google confirmed this week that its most recent broad core update, which began rolling out on December 3, 2020, is now completely rolled out to all search users.

Google’s SearchLiason account announced “the December 2020 Core Update rollout is complete,” yesterday following almost two weeks of anxious waiting from webmasters and SEOs.

What We Know

Google is notoriously tight-lipped about its “secret recipe” used to rank websites around the world. Still, this update was big enough that the search engine felt it necessary to alert the public when the December core update started rolling out. 

This may simply be because the update rollout is global, affecting all users in all countries, across all languages, and across all website categories. 

However, early signs suggest the algorithm update was uncommonly big, with many reporting huge gains or losses in organic traffic from search engines. 

What Is a Broad Core Update?

Google’s “broad core updates” are essentially a tuneup of the search engine’s systems. Rather than adding a specific feature, targeting a singular widespread issue like linkspam, or prioritizing a ranking signal, a core update more subtly tweaks Google’s existing systems. This can be rebalancing the impact of some search signals, refining Google’s indexing tools, or any other combination of changes. 

What To Do If You Are Affected

The first thing any webmaster should do is thoroughly check their analytics to ensure they haven’t experienced a significant change in search traffic. 

If you have, you will be disappointed to hear that Google has not provided any specific guidance for how to recover from this update. In fact, the company suggests a negative impact from a core update may not even reflect any actual problems with your website.

What the search engine does offer is a series of questions to consider if you have been affected by a recent core update. Though not as useful as actual suggestions for fixing lost rankings, these questions can help you assess your site and identify areas for improvement before the next broad core update.

Google released its “Year in Search” report breaking down the biggest trends in search in 2020. As you might expect with everything that has happened this year, though, the biggest trends show a more somber, serious tone than in the past. 

Coronavirus and the 2020 election dominate many of the lists, even directly affecting the trends for concerts, events, and recipes we searched for this year.

Still, there are some bright spots among the year’s search trends. Not only did we find new ways to connect with those we love and care about, the social limitations we faced pushed us to try new things, learn new hobbies, and watch some distinctly Oklahoman TV shows.

In Google’s report, you can find data and topics from around the world, including 70 different countries. Below, we’re going to share some of the most revealing US search trends from this year.

Top US Search Trends in 2020

When we look at the big picture, it is immediately apparent how much covid has impacted our lives. The topic accounts for 3 of the top 5 spots for the overall top searches.

Top US Searches

  1. Election results
  2. Coronavirus
  3. Kobe Bryant
  4. Coronavirus update
  5. Coronavirus symptoms

Next, let’s explore a few new categories directly inspired by coronavirus:

Top “How to Make” Searches

  1. How to make hand sanitizer
  2. How to make a face mask with fabric
  3. How to make whipped coffee
  4. How to make a mask with a bandana
  5. How to make a mask without sewing

Top Virtual Searches

  1. Virtual field trips
  2. Virtual museum tours
  3. Virtual Kentucky Derby
  4. Virtual learning
  5. Virtual NBA fans

Top “… During Coronavirus” Searches

  1. Best stocks to buy during coronavirus
  2. Dating during coronavirus
  3. Dentist open during coronavirus
  4. Unemployment during coronavirus
  5. Jobs hiring during coronavirus

As Google says in the opening of the report, “2020 was the year we asked ‘why?’”

This is because “why?” searches were more common than ever before for a huge range of topics:

Top “Why?” Searches

  1. Why were chainsaws invented
  2. Why is there a coin shortage
  3. Why was George Floyd arrested
  4. Why is Nevada taking so long
  5. Why is TikTok getting banned

And, of course, we have to talk about the biggest TV shows of the year. 

It didn’t matter where you turned in 2020, you were bound to hear about Tiger King, a documentary series about a ragtag web of exotic animal breeders which somehow included murder, cults, and international drug-smuggling. 

The rest of the list is entirely made up of Netflix shows, highlighting the services dominance as we have been cooped up at home.

Top TV Show Searches

  1. Tiger King
  2. Cobra Kai
  3. Ozark
  4. The Umbrella Academy
  5. The Queen’s Gambit

If you’re interested in expanded versions of the lists below, or the top searches from around the world, be sure to check out Google’s Year in Search Report for 2020 here.

With the announcement that Google will begin including the “Core Web Vitals”  (CWV) metrics in its search engine algorithm starting next year, many are scrambling to make sense of what exactly these metrics measure and how they work.

Unlike metrics such as “loading speed” or “dwell time” which are direct and simple to understand, Core Web Vitals combine a number of factors which can get very technical.

To help you prepare for the introduction of Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal next year, Google is sharing a comprehensive guide to what CWV measures, and how they can affect your website. 

What Are Core Web Vitals

The first thing to understand is what exactly Core Web Vitals are. Simply put, CWV are a combination of three specific metrics assessing your page’s loading speed, usability, and stability. These three metrics appear very technical at first, but the gist is that your site needs to load quickly and provide a secure and easy to use experience. As for the specifics, Core Web Vitals include:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have LCP occur within the first 2.5 seconds of the page starting to load.
  • First Input Delay (FID): Measures interactivity. To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measures visual stability. To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have a CLS score of less than 0.1.

Importantly, in the new guide, Google reaffirmed its intention to start using Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal in 2021. 

“Starting May 2021, Core Web vitals will be included in page experience signals together with existing search signals including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.”

Does Every Page Need To Meet CWV Standards?

In the help document, Google explains that the Core Web Vitals standards it set out should be seen as a mark to aim for, but not necessarily a requirement for good ranking. 

Q: Is Google recommending that all my pages hit these thresholds? What’s the benefit?

A: We recommend that websites use these three thresholds as a guidepost for optimal user experience across all pages. Core Web Vitals thresholds are assessed at the per-page level, and you might find that some pages are above and others below these thresholds. The immediate benefit will be a better experience for users that visit your site, but in the long-term we believe that working towards a shared set of user experience metrics and thresholds across all websites, will be critical in order to sustain a healthy web ecosystem.

Will Core Web Vitals Make or Break Your Site?

It is unclear exactly how strongly Core Web Vitals metrics will be able to affect your site when they are implemented, but Google’s current stance suggests they will be a significant part of your ranking.

Q: How does Google determine which pages are affected by the assessment of Page Experience and usage as a ranking signal?

A: Page experience is just one of many signals that are used to rank pages. Keep in mind that intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page with a subpar page experience may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.

Other Details

Among the Q&A, Google also gives a few important details on the scope and impact of Core Web Vitals.

Q: Is there a difference between desktop and mobile ranking? 

A: At this time, using page experience as a signal for ranking will apply only to mobile Search.

Q: What can site owners expect to happen to their traffic if they don’t hit Core Web Vitals performance metrics?

A: It’s difficult to make any kind of general prediction. We may have more to share in the future when we formally announce the changes are coming into effect. Keep in mind that the content itself and its match to the kind of information a user is seeking remains a very strong signal as well.

The full document covers a wide range of technical issues which will be relevant for any web designer or site manager, but the big picture remains the same. Google has been prioritizing sites with the best user experience for years, and the introduction of Core Web Vitals only advances that effort. 

Find out more about Core Web Vitals here.

Google is adding a new set of ranking signals to its search engine algorithm in the coming year, according to an announcement this week. 

The search engine says it will begin factoring “Core Web Vitals” as a ranking signal starting in May 2021, combining with already existing user experience-related ranking signals. 

Google has been measuring Core Web Vitals since earlier this year, assessing the speed, responsiveness, and stability of web pages. 

These factors are what Google calls the Core Web Vitals:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have LCP occur within the first 2.5 seconds of the page starting to load.
  • First Input Delay (FID): Measures interactivity. To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measures visual stability. To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have a CLS score of less than 0.1.

These signals will be joining the already announced page experience signals:

  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Safe-browsing
  • HTTPS-security
  • Intrusive interstitial guidelines

“These signals measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page and contribute to our ongoing work to ensure people get the most helpful and enjoyable experiences from the web.”

Based on recent data assessments, this should concern the majority of websites out there. A study published in August suggests less than 15% of all websites would pass a Core Web Vitals assessment if the signals were implemented today. 

The search engine has also hinted at the potential to introduce new labels in search results, highlighting pages with the best user experience. Though nothing is set in stone, this would provide even more motivation for pages trying to maintain the best place in search results. 

For more information about updating your site for Core Web Vitals, you can explore Google’s resources and tools here

The holiday shopping season is starting to heat up as retailers across the country prepare for the onslaught following Thanksgiving.

This year, the holiday shopping season is almost definitely going to look a lot different than in past years. Still, all estimates suggest this year’s holiday sales will be as big as ever.

To help you get prepped, Google is releasing a 27-page guide full of case-studies, useful data, and insightful predictions on this year’s holiday shopping. 

While these bits of info cover a wide range of topics, they broadly fall into 3 categories: search behavior, changes in online shopping, and buying behavior.

Google Search Behavior and Holiday Shopping

In the guide, Google highlights a range of specific search terms that have been shooting up in popularity:

  • Searches for “best affordable” have grown globally by over 60% year-over-year.
  • Searches for “fashion online shopping” are up 600% year-over-year.
  • Searches for “online clothing stores” have increased 100% globally year-over-year.
  • Searches for “available near me” have grown over 100% globally year-over-year.
  • Searches for “curbside pickup” have grown over 3,000% globally year-over-year.
  • Searches for “support local businesses” grew by over 20,000% since last year.

What This Means For You

This data provides two real takeaways for business owners. The first is that Google is seeing a huge influx of new online shoppers – especially when it comes to buying clothes. This leads us to the second takeaway, the COVID-19 pandemic has made many people reluctant to shop in-store, even when they want to support local businesses.

To accommodate this shift in behavior, it is more essential than ever that businesses provide a range of shopping methods including online stores and contactless pickup.

Changes In Shopping Behavior

With this in mind, Google conducted a survey to see how holiday shoppers are adapting to the unique challenges of 2020. Here’s what they found:

  • 69% of US shoppers plan to shop online for the holidays more than in previous years (with more people going online to browse and buy for the very first time.)
  • More than 50% of surveyed US shoppers tried a new shopping service for the first time this year.
  • More than one in ten surveyed US shoppers tried a new shopping app for the first time this year.
  • 70% of US shoppers said they were open to buying from new retailers.

What This Means For You

We are all generally resistant to change, but the reality of this year has everyone outside of their comfort zones and trying new things. This is clear in our shopping behavior.

Not only are shoppers trying new ways to shop, they are opening themselves to buying from new retailers who have stepped up to the challenge. 

Buying Behavior of Holiday Shoppers

The last selection of stats and data turns the attention towards what shoppers are expecting as they enter the holiday shopping season:

  • 62% of US shoppers will start holiday shopping earlier to avoid items being out of stock.
  • 46% of online US shoppers expect retailers to offer discounts.
  • 77% of US holiday shoppers said they would browse for gift ideas online, not in-store.
  • 46% of surveyed US shoppers agreed that “I make a deliberate effort to shop at businesses that align with my values.”
  • 66% of US consumers who plan to shop this holiday season said they will shop more at local small businesses.

What This Means For You

While the swell in people shopping locally online may seem like a broad shift in consumer desires and behavior, it can also be read as a sign that many local shoppers have been pushed online this year. 

Additionally, many consumers are making a concerted effort to support businesses in the community who may be struggling during the pandemic. 

The increase in tension surrounding the elections is also reflected in this data, as many showed they are focused on shopping at places which align with their values. 

To read the full report yourself and get even more insights into the 2020 holiday shopping season, click here

Google My Business is an essential tool for any local business trying to spread their name online. It is also deceptively complicated. 

At first glance, GMB seems very simple and easy to set up. You just fill out a few forms, answer a few questions, upload a couple of pictures,, and presto! You’ve got a GMB listing. 

Actually optimizing that listing to ensure it appears in nearby customers’ searches, however, is where things get complicated. 

As usual, Google is remarkably non-transparent about how it ranks local searches.There are a few things that have become very apparent over the years. It is pretty much undeniable that having a lot of 5 star reviews will help you rank better. On the other hand, there is reason to believe some sections have absolutely no impact on your local rankings. To get to the truth of how the algorithm works, we have to look at data from tests.

Recently, MozCon speaker Joy Hawkins shared some findings her and her team have made from their own tests and data about what GMB sections help you rank better.

Which Google My Business Sections Affect Rankings

1) Business Name

Sometimes the simplest things can become unbelievably complicated. You almost certainly chose your business name well before making a listing, and you can’t exactly change it now. 

Unfortunately, this puts some businesses at a disadvantage while others get a natural step up. 

According to Hawkins, businesses with a keyword in their name get a boost in local rankings. There is one things you can do though.

As she explains:

“The real action item would be to kind of look to see if your competitors are taking advantage of this by adding descriptive words into their business name and then submitting corrections to Google for it, because it is against the guidelines.”

2) Categories

This is another section that seems like it should be very simple. You can check up to 10 boxes that match your business, including everything from Aboriginal Art Gallery to Zoo. Where this becomes tricky is ensuring the categories you choose remains the most accurate for your business. 

Hawkins’ team found that Google is updating it’s list of categories between 2 to 10 times each month on average. In some cases, they are adding new categories that may be a more specific match for your business. Other times, they may entirely remove categories they feel are irrelevant or unnecessary. 

Either way, it is up to you to keep your business categorized properly to protect your ranking.

3) Website

The vast majority of listings use the homepage of their website as their primary website listing on everything, including Google My Business. It makes sense, and it works perfectly fine. 

What Hawkins’ found, though, is that some businesses actually benefit from choosing a more specific page of their site. For example, businesses with multiple locations can link to a specific location page to specify exactly which store you are directing them to. 

In this section, there is no agreed upon best practice. Instead, Hawkins says to test several pages over time to ensure you are maximizing your exposure. 

4) Reviews

I mentioned it up above but it bears repeating. The number of positive reviews absolutely affects your ranking in local search results. 

There is a small catch, however. According to the what Hawkins’ team has seen, increasing the number of reviews on your listing may have diminishing returns.

“So for example, if you’re a business and you go from having no reviews to, let’s say, 20 or 30 reviews, you might start to see your business rank further away from your office, which is great. But if you go from, let’s say, 30 to 70, you may not see the same lift. So that’s something to kind of keep in mind.”

Still, reviews have consistently been shown to be a major ranking factor AND they improve the click-through-rate of listings. This is obviously an area you will want to invest some energy in. 

If you want to learn a little more about how these sections impact your rankings or you want to see which fields have absolutely no effect, you can read Joy Hawkins’ original post here.

The United States Department of Justice is filing a sweeping antitrust lawsuit against Google today. The suit comes after years of investigations and accusations that Google and it’s parent company Alphabet have unfairly stifled competition to maintain its leading place in online search. 

The complaints further allege that Google then used this leverage and dominant position to sell more search ads across its platform. 

The suit will be joined by 11 state attorneys general from Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas. 

Some have pointed out that all involved attorneys generals are Republicans, though criticism of the search engine giant has been a bipartisan issue over the years. Democrats like Elizabeth Warren have called for similar lawsuits and breaking up the tech giant, and left-leaning states like California are reportedly pursuing similar investigations against the company. 

Notably, an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission in 2013 ended without charges, though a leaked document later revealed staff recommended a number of charges on several grounds. 

In the press conference, the DOJ said the search company has violated Section 2 of the Sherman Act by maintaining unlawful monopolies in markets for “general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising.”

Google has also received criticism for its anti-competitive practices, including over $9 billion in fines from the European Union. Still, this marks the first time similar charges have been filed in the company’s home country. 

Concerns About Anti Competitive Practices

The lawsuit focuses on a number of business moves made by Google over the years, including using massive contracts and agreements to block competition. 

For example, Google and Apple reached a multi-billion dollar agreement to use Google’s search engine as the default on Apple mobile devices, preventing users from using other search engines by default. 

Despite these factors many say the lawsuit is far from a cut-and-dry case and could stretch on for years. Meanwhile, it could also signal the start of an avalanche of legal problems for Google is other states follow suit.

Stories are perhaps the way to share content online these days, so it is only natural that Google has been hard at work preparing its own version of the short-form content. Many users have seen Google Stories in testing throughout its various incarnations, including “Amp Stories” in 2018.

This week, the company officially launched Google Web Stories within its Google app on both iOS and Android devices. 

Google Web Stories can be found in a new carousel shown at the top of the Discover tab, presenting several short video, photo, or audio posts from users and publishers around the world. 

When clicked, stories will expand to a full-screen view where users can click through to your website or swipe to the next story in the carousel. 

Brands and publishers will also be able to monetize, host, share, and add links to their Stories with integration for WordPress, MakeStories, and NewsroomAI. You can even manually code a Google Web Story entirely from scratch. 

6 Rules For Making Google Web Stories

Along with the official release of Google Web Stories, the company has published a set of rules for the format. According to the guidelines, also Stories including the following types of content are prohibited:

  1. Copyrighted Content – Overall, Google is taking a relatively loose stance with what types of content can appear in Stories, especially with regards to copyrighted content. Specifically, the company says it “may” remove content that infringes on an existing copyright or links to a webpage with similar issues. 
  2. Too Long – Google is designing its Stories specifically with short-form content in mind, as such, it may block longer content. To ensure your Story gets shown, keep text down to 180 words or less, and videos a maximum of 60 seconds long. 
  3. Low Quality – You don’t need to have expensive cameras and high-end lighting to create a Story, but you do need at least a smartphone with a decent camera. Videos or images with large amounts of pixelation or distortion are prohibited. 
  4. Lack of Narrative or Theme – Google Web Stories are expected to be just that – “Stories.” They should have a narrative or at least a general theme as users go from page to page. 
  5. Incomplete Stories – While you can link to your site at the end of a story, Google warns against making users click through your site to see the entire content. Your Web Stories must be a complete package on their own.
  6. Overly Commercial Content – Brands can publish Web Stories and even convert some display ads to the format. However, the content must still provide a story or message. Content that is entirely commercial (i.e., being a simple billboard-style ad) is not allowed within the format.