Google Web Stories: What They Are and How to Use Them

Web Stories are a new visual content format for the web. It's based on the AMP Framework and will be shown in the Google Search Results and in Google Discovery. On this page we try to give you an understanding of this new format.

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Web Stories: The Ultimate Guide

In the past few years, brands have observed a massive 10% increase in their website traffic and 20% boost of conversion rates as a result of Google AMP Technology and more precisely due to Web Stories. Web Stories supports similar formats as Facebook, Instagram & Snapchat stories and helps brands deliver great storytelling experiences to its audience by allowing them to produce magnificent visual content.

This ultimate guide gives you a deep understanding about how Google Web Stories work, their advantages as well as disadvantages and how you can apply them successfully to your own business. Get ready and dive into this new, revolutionary Google feature that will take mobile experience to the next level.

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Mobile First Content Formats: Why we need Web Stories

Various businesses all across the world have been delivering an outstanding visual storytelling and fast-loading full-screen experience to their mobile audience, helping them build an emotional connection with them and increase their awareness. And the credit goes to Google’s AMP project which was launched way back in 2016. Let’s take a brief look at what it’s all about:

According to April 2020 Digital Reports, “66% (5.16 billion) people all across the world are unique mobile users out there.” That means half of the Earth’s population is dependent on smartphones.

“On average, people spend nearly 3 hours 15 minutes using their smartphones for one purpose or another.”

With such a rapid increase in the number of smartphone users each passing year and the growth of mobile search, Google launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project in the year 2016. The biggest goal of the Internet Giant was to put mobile performance over everything else on the Internet.

Nearly 4 years after its launch, it can be concluded that Google has managed to achieve its goal. Not only has it contributed to delivering an easy mobile experience to the mobile users, but it has even led to an increase in conversion rates for businesses.

Despite all of its plus points, the one thing that lacked back then was a story-based outstanding web page experience. After thorough planning, Google launched “AMP Stories” to solve this problem. Back when it was launched in February 2018, it was referred to as “AMP Stories.” As of 1st May 2020, they changed the name of the product to “Web Stories.”

But what exactly is it? Let’s take a look.

Web Stories in a Nutshell

Web Stories is nothing but an extension of AMP built with the ultimate goal to make content easier to consume. With this tool, publishers can produce content that’s extremely similar to the Instagram stories.

The biggest plus point is that it’s not dependent on any platform. Instead, the content is placed in google's search results page. Listed below are few of the AMP examples:

On top of this, these stories load at lightning-fast speeds. Let’s take a look at the wide range of benefits that this product has to offer.

Web Stories: Advantages

Here’s a list of the benefits that one will be subject to:

  • Powerful Storytelling
  • Faster Loading Speed
  • Easy to Consume/Read
  • Analytic Tools
  • Familiar to Instagram Stories
  • Can be Monetized with AMP Ads
  • Can be Shared Instantly in Stories
  • Not Bound to a Platform
  • Can be Shown on Desktop via Browser
  • No Time Limits
  • Stories can be Created as Evergreens
  • Can be Translated to 21 Different Languages

Let’s take a look at each of them one at a time.

Powerful Storytelling

As humans, we love incredible stories that keep us on edge. One of the biggest benefits of Web Stories is that they can grab the attention of people at the very first sight and keep them engaged for much longer than a regular blog post or news article. One of the reasons behind is the faster loading time.

However, with Web Stories, brands will be able to tell their stories in an engaging and powerful manner. It's a unique and out-of-the-box approach. People aren't used to it. That’s the reason why most people will find Web Stories to be comparatively more engaging.

And that’s how brands will be able to build an emotional connection with their audience and make them feel wanting for more.

Faster Loading Speed

Did you know that a website’s loading speed shouldn’t be more than 3 seconds? If it is, businesses will be killing their conversion rate. On top of this, it will even result in huge bounce off rates. One of the most outstanding benefits of using this framework is that the AMP pages will load 2x faster than the regular mobile ones.

What this means is that customers will love exploring the brand’s website. They’ll not have to wait for the content to load. That’s one of the reasons why the visitors might be more than willing to buy a brand’s products and services. Not only will it lead to an increase in the conversion rate, but it also helps brands build a factor of trust.

On top of this, Google algorithm takes into consideration website loading speed to determine a website’s rankings on search engine results for certain keywords. In short, brands will be gaining an upper hand and the chances of their website ranking at the top will now be more than ever.

Easy to Consume/Read

The writing is structured in highly-readable snippets as well as engaging visuals which will occupy the entire screen on just any mobile device. As a result of its interactive and smooth navigation, Web stories can easily attract the attention of the website visitors at the very first sight. On top of this, they will even find consuming content to be super-easy.

Less text and more visuals will even help brands protect their website visitors from having to deal with such a huge amount of information.

Analytic Tools

What if a business is wasting big bucks on its marketing efforts without even knowing whether its campaigns are working or not? And that’s the reason exactly why it's super-important for the business out there to track the analytics.

This won’t be a problem in case of Web Stories. It uses the same measurement tool that’s used by billions of AMP web pages, helping brands know where they currently stand.

Familiar Concept from Instagram

People love uploading Instagram stories. Back when the “Instagram Stories” feature was added to Instagram, people were crazy about it.

The concept of Web Stories is no different and extremely similar. Almost all of us are familiar with Instagram stories and love this feature a lot. In short, we can conclude that we will easily be able to adapt to Web Stories within no time.

Can Be Monetized with AMP Ads

In case of monetizing regular web pages, each time a brand wants to display an ad, it has to include a JavaScript snippet for the purpose of serving ads from the ad network.

However, that’s not allowed in AMP pages, due to performance as well as security reasons. This means that brands won’t be able to monetize. All they will need to do is to add the amp-ad component to the AMP page.

Can be Shared Instantly in the Story

One of the other biggest plus points of Web stories is that businesses won’t face a hard time sharing their stories. It’s built with the AMP framework. They’ll be able to share their stories just like they share their news articles and blog posts in regular times.

Plus, Web Stories are part of the open web. Brands can share as well as embed Web Stories across apps and sites without being confined to an ecosystem.

Not Bound to a Platform

What’s the basic difference between Instagram or Facebook stories and Web Stories? Facebook or Instagram stories are bound to their respective platforms, which isn’t the case with Web Stories. It’s not bound to a single application or a platform. With every Google search, they will be appearing.

And that’s exactly why it’s one of the best ways to consume news articles regularly. Users won’t have to open an application to watch a story, which has created a buzz in the community.

Can Be Shown on Desktop Via Browser

People won’t have to head over to an application or a platform to watch a story. Instead, they can open their favourite browser and visit a website that has adopted Web Stories.

Listed below is the list of the supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, Opera, UC Browser.

No Time Limits

One of the biggest downsides of the Instagram stories is that they disappear after 24 hours. Although people can upload these stories in their “Highlight Section”, the Instagram stories disappearing after 24 hours is an absolute disaster. Users should have full control over the amount of time they want their story to appear on their profile.

And that’s a limitation that has been addressed and eliminated by the Web Stories. The Web stories won’t disappear from the website within 24-hours. Instead, it’s up to the businesses. They may keep their stories there forever. Or they can choose to delete them within a few hours. They have full control over them.

Stories can be Created as Evergreens

It’s no secret that Google loves evergreen content. The thing about evergreen content is that it’s featured via “Featured Snippet” on the search engine. It’s even appreciated by Google Discovery.

Another one of the biggest benefits of Web Stories is that one can carry out thorough research with respect to the hottest topics on the Internet and create "What/Why/How" kinds of stories around them.

Can Be Translated To 21 Different Languages

What if one of your website visitors isn’t familiar with the "English language" or the language your website is in? If the page doesn’t get translated to his/her native language or the language he/she is proficient in, he/she will bounce off.

And this problem was addressed by Google. In 2019, the tech giant announced the Web Stories to support 21 languages and locales. What this means is that the content on the Web Stories can be translated into any of the 21 different languages.

With such a wide range of benefits, Web Stories has few of its own set of disadvantages. Let’s go over them.

Web Stories: Challenges

Have to be Programmed in AMP HTML

Web stories are written by utilizing AMP HTML. On top of this, they have their extension, i.e. amp-story. One will have to define the stories inside this tag.

If you aren’t a developer, you will find its implementation to be pretty hard. You'll have to spend a lot of your resources as well as money hiring someone who holds expertise.

That won't be the case with WordPress websites because WordPress allows the installation of "AMP Stories" plugin to make the process even smoother. However, in case of other content management systems, one won't be subject to a plugin and if he/she doesn't know how to code, it might turn out to be a disaster.

Have to Be Created In 3rd Party Tool

Apart from that, you will have to use a 3rd party tool to create your Web Stories. These tools can be integrated with other platforms.

Listed below are the top three 3rd party tools that will help you create highly-engaging Web Stories:

  • MakeStories
  • NewsRoom AI
  • Tappable

Have To Be Hosted Separately

Technically, Web Stories are HTML files. In the past few years, various tech giants have criticized Google’s AMP. As claimed by some of them, it’s a wide attempt to establish its dominance on the Internet.

Some have expressed their opinions over the fact that the AMP Web Stories are hosted on Google’s servers and is considered to be the company’s attempt of depreciating the URLs such that the Internet users won’t be able to know whether they are viewing a page on Open web or an AMP page.

Web Stories: Technical Features

Attachments Can Be Linked

In case of Web Stories, one will easily be able to link additional content to each one of the story pages. The Web Stories users can provide the additional content as a link or simply an inline AMP HTML content to certain pages.

This will help in ensuring that the audience is able to head over to this content by swiping up or by tapping on the Call-To-Action (CTA) button.

To do so, you’ll have to add the

<amp-story-page-attachment>
element at the very end as
<amp-story-page>
element’s last child.

On top of this, it should have

<layout = “nodisplay”>
attribute as well.

Here’s how it will look like:

Link Content Is Visible, Yet Will Only Load When Needed to Save Loading Time Linking a tweet or maybe one of YouTube videos has never been easier. One can link a YouTube video with one of his Web Stories with the help of “amp-youtube” component. In case of a tweet, the component to be used is “amp-twitter.” On top of this, it won’t even have a bit of impact on the loading speed.

Whether you link a YouTube or Twitter video or Google Maps, the content will be visible. However, it will only load when needed to save the loading time. What this means is that the video will play only when you hit the play icon.

Imagine the number of people brands will be able to reach out to with Google Discover. That’s about 800 million unique users.

Here’s how the Web Stories are featured on Google Discover:

As visible in the above-displayed image, it’s labelled as “Featured Visual Story.” Upon tapping it, the users will be redirected to a standard Chrome Custom tab.

Hamburger Menu Can Be Created for Better Navigation in Story

What about the navigation? Brands can deliver a structured experience to their audience by creating a Hamburger menu. With a wide range of features being introduced with each update, one can create a Hamburger menu for better navigation in stories.

Here’s an developer example what it will look like:

Can Easily be Installed on WordPress

One can easily install the “AMP Stories” WordPress plugin. This is important because most of the worldwide existing websites are still created with the free open-source content management system WordPress.

Listed below are some of its features used for Wordpress:

  • Create Web Stories on your post or page
  • Button for activating or deactivating Web Stories
  • Add a background picture to the AMP page
  • Web Stories WordPress Builder
  • Include URLs
  • Add Audio
  • Add Background Audio
  • Link content to your story (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Email shares)

Examples

3rd Party Tools to Create Stories

Listed below are the three 3rd party tools one can use to build stories:

  • MakeStories
  • NewsRoom AI
  • Tappable

MakeStories (Beta): Launched Version 2.0 In May 2020

It’s one of the most popular drag-and-drop Web Stories builder tools with nearly 75+ features that will help anyone customize the Web stories to their absolute best.

Here’s a list of the three reasons you should use MakeStories to create your Web Stories:

  • Drag-And-Drop Approach
  • Zero Coding Required
  • Rich Stock Library

With that being said, this tool supports the following integrations:

  • WordPress
  • Publish via FTP
  • Drupal
  • iFrame Embeds
  • Widget Embedding
  • Export to Zip
  • Publish to onl.st Shortlink

NewsRoom AI (Closed Beta): You’ll have to apply to access this tool

NewsRoom AI delivers a tap-through, rich storytelling environment which is specifically designed for the mobile web.

With NewsRoom AI, brands will be able to build outstanding experiences for their clients in the Web Stories format with ease. As stated by the platform, here’s what they can expect by adopting Web Stories:

Tappable (Closed Beta): You’ll have to apply to access this tool

Tappable is one of the most outstanding platforms that brands can use to build engaging mobile-first Web Stories. However, it's currently in closed beta stage and will be released soon. Stories

Check out some of the Web Stories right here:

Success Story

Boost Photo Data Price Comparison

After adopting Web Stories, Hans and his team of Tappable observed users staying for a longer duration of time on their website (stories). On top of this, they witnessed their bounce rate decline gradually.

Their content was being read for a great deal of time. They went from a session time of 20 seconds blog posts to nearly 4 minutes for their Web Stories. People started automatically connected to their content. On top of this, about a massive 87% of their users clicked-through until the very end of the Web Stories.

In short, we can conclude that implementing Web Stories on your website can not only benefit you but will help you deliver an outstanding experience to your visitors.

SEO Perspective

Here’s how Web Stories help boost the SEO efforts:

  • Users Stay Longer on the AMP Pages
  • Better Visibility as its labelled AMP in Google Search ResultsUsers Stay Longer on The Web Stories

As mentioned above, Washington Post increased the amount of time people stayed on their website exponentially. If your website's bounce off rate is pretty high, then you’ll be leaving a bad impression in front of the Google algorithm, which might lead to your search engine rankings being seriously impacted. What if they stayed for a huge amount of time?

In that case, Google algorithm will consider the content on the website to be extremely engaging and relevant and it will over time help improve your search engine results.

Better Visibility as its Labelled AMP in Google Search Results

Web Stories will give you a massive boost. It won’t increase your domain authority or site’s page authority. However, it will give you a chance to be labelled as “AMP” in the AMP carousel that appears above the traditional results.

What this means is that your website will be appearing before the #1 placement. There’s nothing better than appearing above the #1 position on Google for certain keywords.

Web Stories vs. Instagram Stories

Since Web Stories and Instagram Stories seem to be very similar, there’s a brief comparison of both story types waiting for you. Check it out and see the difference:

As you can see both story types offer different possibilities for their users but clearly Web Stories win the game. The number one argument in favor of Web Stories is the independency from any platform, whereas Instagram stories will always and only stick to Instagram.

Conclusion

Billions of web pages are powered by Google AMPs. Average of these pages load 2x faster than the regular web pages. That’s because JavaScript doesn’t slow them down.

Should businesses give Web Stories a shot? The answer is ‘Yes.’ It’s the future of content marketing. Not only will this extension help them boost their storytelling efforts, but will even contribute in increasing their conversion rate and deliver a mind-blowing experience to their customers. Most marketers have even claimed it to be the next big thing.

FAQ

What exactly are Web Stories?

Google AMP Web Stories feature similar formats already known as Facebook, Instagram & Snapchat stories. Web Stories help brands deliver great storytelling experiences to its audience by allowing them to produce magnificent visual content for mobile users.

What are the main advantages of Web Stories?

Web Stories don’t stick to certain platforms and appear in the Google search above #1 position for certain keywords. They can be shared across platforms and won’t disappear after 24 hours such as Instagram stories. Moreover, Web Stories’ performance can be tracked by Analytics and can be created with various tools and devices.

How do Web Stories work?

Web stories are written by utilizing AMP HTML and they have their own extension, i.e. amp-story. One will have to define the stories inside this tag and needs to use a 3rd party tool in order to create stories successfully. However, there are already plug-ins available on the market.

What are the technical features of Web Stories?

The Web Stories users can provide the additional content as a link or simply an inline AMP HTML content to certain pages. Web Stories are featured on Google Discover and can reach more than 800 million of users. Also users of Web Stories can create a Hamburger menu for better navigation in stories.

Contact us about Web Stories

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