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Google’s take on the popular Story format hit a big milestone, as the company recently reported more than 100,000 new Google Web Stories are getting added to the search index every day. 

Combined, these daily new stories have helped accumulate more than 20 million Web Stories total since the launch of the content format. 

The report also notes that more than 6,500 new domains have published their first Web Story since October 2020, when Web Stories were launched for Android and iOS devices, as well as being added to Google Discover

This led to a significantly larger reach for Google Web Stories and a significant increase in interest from brands.

“Last October, we created a home for Web Stories in Google Discover so users could find a personalized stream of the best Web Stories from around the internet. The goal with Web Stories is to enable publishers and creators to easily build and take full ownership of their content.”

Unsurprisingly, putting the short video clips front-and-center on Google’s content discovery page has also helped millions of users check out and engage with Web Stories every day.

For those who are still skeptical about Google Web Stories, or those who just want to improve the stories they are putting out, Google compiled data from users to create five suggestions for creating the most engaging and exciting stories for your audience. 

Five Tips For Engaging Google Web Stories

  1. Lifestyle content, complete with inspirational imagery and messages, informative how-to info, or relevant product-partnerships drive the most engagement of any vertical.
  2. Thanks to a diverse array of visually engaging topics and videos, the Arts and Entertainment and Food and Drink verticals consistently get the most impressions.
  3. Users show a clear hunger for new Arts and Entertainment, Celebrity, and Sports/Gaming content. “With new TV, movie, and game releases rolling out all the time, these verticals offer opportunities for growth.”
  4. Though Google has seen successful Web Stories of all sizes, users are typically willing to click through an average of 11-15 pages before ditching a Web Story. 
  5. Users watch an average of 1.7 Stories for every Web Story opened on Google Discover. However, this can vary significantly across industries and demographics. 

For more information about Google Web Stories, check out the latest announcement in this blog post or explore Google’s playbook for creating the most engaging Web Stories here.

Google is warning brands that Web Stories which don’t follow through on their promised content may but cut from appearing in Google Search and Google Discover.

In an announcement, the company explained that users have expressed disinterest in Web Stories which “tease” content but require users to click through to get the full experience. As such, brands using this style of Web Story run the risk of having their content demoted.

What Are Google Web Stories?

Google’s take on the popular Story format first appeared back in 2018, going by the name of AMP Stories. 

These quick, visual posts or ads function almost identically to Facebook or Instagram Stories, but appear within the Google mobile app when exploring the Discover tab or searching for websites.

One thing that makes Google’s version of these posts unique, however, is that Web Stories can easily be shared to any platform, including competing social networks.

What This Change Means For You

In the announcement, Google’s Paul Bakaus explains that “a one- or two-page teaser for your blog post doesn’t tell a satisfying story to a reader, so Google will do its very best to not show these to users.”

With this in mind, Google is planning to stop showing “teaser” based Web Stories across its platform. 

If you are concerned your Web Stories may be affected, Google recommends following a few Do’s and Don’ts:

Dos:

  • A shopping inspiration list that highlights products and links out to places where you can buy them.
  • A short version of a recipe with complete ingredients listed that leaves more detailed instructions behind a click.

Don’ts:

  • A one-page story that mentions a recipe in the headline, but is just a bunch of photos that redirect to the website.
  • A list highlighting beautiful cities in Europe, but just listing a city and a photo and pointing to the blog link for any actual information.

It is worth noting that the above example image Google shows of a recipe web story actually clearly falls into the “Don’t” category here. This highlights how unclear the actual implementation of this new policy is currently.

People are Tired of Clickbait

As Bakaus notes, users expect complete content from Stories, not a lure leading to a comprehensive blog post.

“Unfortunately, from what users are telling us, this isn’t what they want. Instead, web stories are best when they tell a full story and aren’t used to “tease” other content.

“Readers don’t like to feel forced to click through to a connected blog post to finish reading.”

How This Affects Monetization

One of the biggest reasons many brands used “teaser” Web Stories was to help drive traffic to their own monetized content. This new policy could potentially disrupt this strategy entirely. 

Despite this, Google urges you to “think about the users consuming [Web Stories] and how Google showcases them.”

At the same time, the company notes that “you can directly monetize Web Stories with in-between-page ads.”

Bakaus does admit this may not be as effective or lucrative, though the company hopes to improve this situation in the future:

“A well-optimized blog post might still make you more money today, but ad networks are working on building out and expanding their Web Story integrations, so you should see both CPMs and fill rates improve over time.”

You can hear Paul’s full explanation of the policy and the best practices for creating Web Stories in his Google Web Creators video below:

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.