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What are Google Web Stories and why should influencer marketers use them?

The popularity of the story format for social media is stronger than ever. Stories offer a unique opportunity for creators to create highly interactive content. And it’s clear from the stats that its popularity shows no signs of waning. Perhaps that’s why Google has decided to get in on the act by introducing Google Web Stories.

Google web stories
Google web stories

Key takeaways

  • Google Web Stories are similar to other Story content—they allow audiences to tap through content comprised of video, image, and text, in a way that tells a story.
  • Google Web Stories can feature as standalone content or be embedded on existing web pages.
  • Google offers plug in, drag-and-drop tools featuring templates and other customizable elements to help creators build their Google Web Stories in ‘less than five minutes’.
  • Last year, Google revealed there are 20 million Web Stories already online, with 100,000 new Stories being added daily. On average, a person looks at 1.7 Google Web Stories for every Story they open.

The popularity of the story format for social media is stronger than ever. Take a look at Instagram, the company that has developed the most famous proponent of the format, which has racked up some pretty impressive stats:

  • More than 500 million active daily Instagram Stories users
  • 86.6% of Instagram users post Stories
  • 70% of users watch stories daily

But the appeal of stories is not just limited to social media. Research by Forrester Consulting in 2019 revealed that, when it comes to publisher content, 64% prefer tappable mobile web stories that feature interactive visuals over scrolling the article version of the same content. That number goes up to 75% when the content is related to the user’s preferred subject matter. Stories offer a unique opportunity for creators to create highly interactive content. And it’s clear from the stats that its popularity shows no signs of waning. Perhaps that’s why Google has decided to get in on the act by introducing Google Web Stories.

What are Google Web Stories?

Google Web Stories are an upgrade on the format formally known as AMP stories. Interactive and video-led, it’s content that enables creators to share information on a topic in a dynamic way.

They can also include images, text, animations, AdWords, links, and calls-to-action—with audiences tapping through frames like they would in an Instagram Story.

Google bills them as content that can be created in five minutes—so creation is as straightforward for users as it is with Instagram Stories too.

They’re also designed to be easily discovered by audiences. Users can add them as individual pages on your website, so they can be indexed and surfaced in relevant search results, or they can be embedded into existing pages—like an embedded YouTube video.

Google Webs Stories can also be used in:

  • Carousels in Google Discover
  • Newsletters
  • Or linked to from social media

They’re flexible, easy to create, and easy to find. So how do creators get started?

What goes into a Google Web Story?

A typical Google Web Story comes in three parts:

  1. The Poster. This is the first thing anyone sees as part of a Google Web Story—it’s like the packaging of a product and should therefore entice the audience to open up and see what’s inside while also setting expectations of what’s to come.
  2. The Cover Page. This is the first ‘page’ of the content itself—and should therefore communicate to the audience that the action is starting
  3. The Story Pages. These are the individual frames that follow the cover, through which the creator tells the story they want, sharing information and assets in a coherent narrative—much like a branded or influencer-owned Instagram Story.

As ever, it’s what creators do with those three parts that count. Much like good social media stories, the best Google Web Stories are the ones that are dynamic and experiential—including first-person narratives, live stories, educational pieces, quizzes, and polls.

Creators should be conscious of topics, and if their audience aligns with the most in-demand subject matter. According to Google data from 2021, entertainment, celebrity, sports, and gaming Web Stories are in high demand. Finally, a good Google Web Story adheres to best content practices for the platform. For example, Google also revealed in 2021 that a user on average will read 11-15 pages of a Google Web Story. So creators have to include the most important information or elements of their narrative upfront—anything after 15 will potentially be ignored.

How do you create a Google Web Story?

Google has simplified the process of creating a Web Story to make life easier for creators—and thrown in some extra tools to help. Here’s an overview of how to create your first Google Web Story:

1. Storyboarding

Make sure all bases are covered and all key information is included in the right place with some basic planning. Use Google’s storyboard script template to work out your narrative before content creation begins.

2. Editing Software

There are several options open to creators when it comes to building and editing a Google Web Story. Those with developer skills can create a Story with custom elements using AMP by following this tutorial. If you’re not an experienced developer, no fear—Google provides no code options like the Web Stories for WordPress plugin. This drag-and-drop builder includes templates to simplify the process—check it out here.

3. Test run

After you’ve created your Google Web Story, make sure it works by running it through the following testing tools:

4. Go live

If you’re happy with your Story and it’s passed testing, it’s time to get it online by pushing the ‘Publish’ button in the visual editor.

How do you optimize SEO for Google Web Stories?

With Google Web Stories featuring as part of—or standalone— web pages, ensuring standard SEO best practice is carried out should be a priority for creators. This includes:

  • Make sure metadata is included for each page to enable search engines and discover features to understand and pick up the content.
  • Likewise, all images have to include alt text to ensure they’re properly discoverable
  • Videos should have subtitles to ensure they’re accessible and can be enjoyed with sound off
  • Restrict story titles to 90 characters or less
  • Finally, users should include all Google Web Stories in their site map, with the required AMP structured data.

What are the benefits of Google Web Stories and why should influencers use them for marketing?

Besides the ease of use and the tremendous interest in story formats generally, there are some key benefits that make Google Web Stories an attractive opportunity for influencers to use in their marketing efforts.

New channel = new opportunities

Google Web Stories should be seen by influencers as a brand-new channel to reach new audiences. They’re different from social stories—they don’t disappear after 24 hours, they can feature alongside other content on a website—they offer influencer marketers the chance to do something different and interact with audiences in new and engaging ways. That’s an exciting proposition for influencers always looking for creative ways to grow and expand their brand.

Growth should be the aim of the game, too. Last year, Google revealed there are 20 million Web Stories already online, with 100,000 new Stories being added daily. Publishers like VICE, Inverse, and Refinery29 are already using them to full effect. It’s a highly shareable format and one which audiences are keen to engage with. That same Google study noted that users watch almost two more stories for everyone Google Web Story they open.

Monetizable format

Google Web Stories potentially offers influencer marketers a return on investment too. It’s relatively simple to monetize Google Web Stories, with options including AdSense, Ad Manager, display ads, affiliate links, and CTAs. Google does not require a percentage of revenue created—underlining the platform’s value to influencer marketers.

Authentic branding

Unlike rival platforms and social channels who control how content looks and feels and predetermine the UX, Google Web Stories enable creators to produce content befitting their branding—thanks to the flexibility offered by custom coding and some pretty customizable templates. That way, everything an influencer generates can remain true to the identity they’ve worked hard to build up, and because the content sits on their website, they retain copyright.

When you create stories on social channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, you rely on the platform’s interface. With Google Web Stories, you have complete code control. You can embed your Web Stories on your website and use them to create cross-platform content. And because they are on your website, you own the content copyright.

Growth and improvement

This being Google, analytics is central to the format. Each story can be analyzed with Google Analytics or the Web Stories Insights Dashboard, offering marketers concrete data to aid decision-making and ensure content remains close to any digital marketing strategies.

Creators should take a keen interest in performance and quality when it comes to Web Stories, as Google has made it clear it will take action against low-quality, clickbait-style Web Stories. This includes Stories that include low-quality assets, narratives that are too commercial, or ‘teaser’ content that’s being used as a trailer for the content housed elsewhere.

In short, while Google Web Stories are not as well known as other formats, it’s a growing format and the time is now to get ahead of the curve and start creating.

About Kolsquare

Kolsquare is Europe’s leading Influencer Marketing platform, a data-driven solution that allows brands to scale their KOL Marketing strategies and implement authentic partnerships with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). Kolsquare’s technology enables marketing professionals to easily identify the best Content Creators profiles by filtering their content and audience, and to build and manage their campaigns from A to Z, including measuring results and benchmarking performance against competitors. Kolsquare has built the largest community of influencer marketing experts in the world, and offers hundreds of customers (Coca-Cola, Netflix, Sony Music, Publicis, Sézane, Sephora, El Corte Inglés, Lacoste, …) the latest Big Data, AI and Machine Learning technologies to drive inspiring partnerships, tapping into an exhaustive network covering 100% of  KOLs with more than 5,000 followers in 180 countries on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As a Benefit Company, Kolsquare has been pioneering Responsible Influence by championing transparency, ethical practices, and meaningful collaborations to inspire change.

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