As any website manager can verify, running and maintaining decent SEO is not easy. There are a ton of aspects to keep in mind and plenty of details that you need to tackle. In most cases, people have to maintain good SEO practice for months if not years before they are able to find decent traffic. But, luckily, this doesn't have to be the case. You'd be surprised at how effective web stories by Google can be in increasing and maintain your SEO rating.
What are Web Stories by Google
By now, you've most likely seen the story format online. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have been using them for a while now in order to boost viewership. This story format has been wildly successful, as it makes use of the short attention span that plagues modern viewers. And seeing this considerable success, Google was quick to make its own story format available.
Once you understand what web stories by Google are, you will easily see why they are so important for modern marketing.
To see what Google Web Stories are, you only need to visit the stories.google website. In essence, you can present any content you want in story format. But, in most cases, these are either combinations of images and words, videos and words or just videos. They present a short, engaging, easy to digest message that people can absorb in a short amount of time. Modern tools even allow adding interactivity to web stories, with a huge benefit in it itself.
Benefits of Google Web Stories
Now, some of you might be wondering why should one deviate from tried and true platforms like Facebook or Instagram. They, after all, have integrated story content long ago, and give you a quick and easy way to create your own. And you can even find ways to drive traffic from Instagram to your own website. So, why should you pick web stories on Google over those available through social media?
Unless you know what web stories can entail, stories on Social Media platforms can seem more than enough.
Well, there are a couple of reasons. As you will soon learn, while creating stories on Facebook and Instagram can be easy, it is fairly limited. Luckily, Google saw this and then decided to give much more freedom through their story content.
You own your stories
First and foremost, you own your stories. If you were to put them on social media like Facebook or Snapchat, you would be merely using their services. And, as people tend to forget, the social media platform is the defacto owner of the content.
Well, this simply isn't the case with Google web stories. By using them you, and you alone are the owner of your content. This means that you can change your stories, combine different elements, place them anywhere you see fit, and take them down when you deem it necessary. If you stick with social media platforms, you will be limited by their rules and their functionality.
Larger reach through Google
While story format has been around for a while, Google web stories are a fairly new concept. So, to make them as lucrative as possible, Google is working hard on promoting them wherever suitable. You can make use of this aspect and get a much greater reach through Google.
If you were to promote standard content you would have to work long and hard in order to climb through SEO ranks. But, through web stories, you can circumvent much of the competition and use the current state of the online market to your benefit.
Freedom to customize
Once you start exploring story format for marketing purpose, you will see just how limiting social media platforms are. While they might be suitable for personal content, any serious marketing manager will see that social media stories simply won't do. Well, the major benefit of web stories is that they give you a much greater degree of freedom. With them you can add:
- Various transitions.
- Interactive elements.
- Website integration.
Furthermore, you can choose whether your stories will be a part of a specific web page, or if they will be a standalone piece of content. All in all, if you are seriously considering using story content for marketing, Google web stories are your only option.
You'd be surprised at what you can create through even basic story platforms.
How to create story content for better SEO
While story content may seem easy to create at first, there are different aspects that you need to keep in mind. While in theory, you can present any content in story format, in practice, you will usually boil it down to short, easy to understand messages. As such, your stories need to be comprehensive, direct and easy to follow. And, if you have any experience with content creation, you already know that this is easier said than done.
Furthermore, your stories need to be in line with your current SEO efforts and an overall SEO strategy. With stories, you simply don't have the room to elaborate on various subjects and go in-depth into various aspects, as you can with blog posts. Instead, you need to adhere to the "short and sweet" mantra and ensure that your content is top-notch.
Handling SEO in 2021
Before we go into more detailed practises regarding story SEO, we first need to make something clear about SEO in general. Namely, to get decent SEO results you need to approach it the right way. One of the common mistakes people make is to overanalyse the SEO algorithm and try to predict future trends. By now, the Googles algorithm has become so complicated that you can hardly keep up with it. So, while reverse-engineering may seem like a good idea, know that it is terribly difficult, and probably in vain. What Google is trying to do is to promote content that people actually want to see. So, instead of focusing on SEO values, try to make content that is informative, educational and easy to digest. By doing so you will naturally find traffic and yield great SEO results.
Understand your brand
Even though story content is making considerable developments in marketing, we don't suspect that you can solely rely on it for your online presence. Blogs, posts, images and videos all have their own role to play. Therefore you should see stories, not as a substitute, but as an add-on to your long-term marketing campaign.
Once you understand what brand awareness is, you will start learning the basics of professional marketing.
Now, we can dedicate a whole article to how stories function within a long-term marketing campaign. But, for now, let's just emphasize the fact that your content needs to be in line with your brand. Story content, just like any other content that you post, needs to be connected to your brand. To make this possible, you first need to understand your brand and what message you are promoting through it. For instance, if your brand is all about safety and reliability, it doesn't make much sense for your content to have a casual tone. On the other hand, if your brand is about feeling good and improving your lifestyle, a casual tone can work just fine. Your job is to identify what your brand is all about, and how it reflects on your story content.
Working with a graphic designer
Another common staple of story content is that it is heavy on visuals. If your story is going to be engaging, it needs to have a distinct visual style to it. Without it, you'll have a hard time standing out from the crowd and inspiring your viewers to pay attention to what you are saying. This is why most story creation tools out there will give you a top of options when it comes to design and customization. You can pretty much add any image that you see fit, and combine it with a suitable font and text placement. But, all that freedom and a large set of available options can be counterproductive.
Defining and sticking to a visual style can be surprisingly difficult, especially if you have little prior experience. As we mentioned, your content needs to be in line with your brand. And it is not always obvious how to connect a visual style to a brand message. This is why we advise you to seriously consider hiring a professional graphic designer to help you. Even if you have a good idea, it is most likely going to come out as amateurish and subpar. While your tools may promise you a professional level of design, know that there is simply no substitute for the years of practise that graphic designer goes through. So, until you can work within your own visual style, have a graphics designer by your side.
Best SEO practices for web stories
Fortunately, there is something you can sink your teeth into before you start creating stories. Namely, if your stories are going to yield you good online traffic, you need to adhere to good SEO practices. While web stories are still new, we do feel that the market is only going to become more and more competitive. So, the sooner you learn what SEO practices make for a good web story, the better.
Prioritizing content quality
The content that you use for stories has no room for fluff. Every word should be intentional, informative and there for a reason. As we mentioned "short and sweet" is the name of the game.
Using titles and metadata
Just like a webpage, every web story should have a title. This not only makes it easier to use but also gives your viewers an idea of what the story is about. A good title has less than 70 characters. If you have to push it, 90 should be your max. Anything above that, and your title defeats its own purpose of being informative.
For metadata, you only need to use the standard markups of a meta title, meta description and structured data. Just know that web stories need to follow the AMP guidelines for metadata. So, make sure to do proper research before you add them.
Indexing and crawling
To have good SEO results, it is becoming more and more important to make your online presence easy for indexing and crawling. One of the more important things to avoid is having a non-index attribute in your story. Having it can easily block Google from indexing the entire page where your story is hosted. Furthermore, you need to add your stories to your XML sitemap. You should even consider creating a section in your sitemap for them.
If you want to make good use of your story content, make sure to update your sitemap as soon as possible.
The second thing to keep in mind is that you should use canonical tags. As a rule, web stories by Google should have a self-referencing canonical tag. This is true, even if your stories are in different languages. In that case, you can use the hreflang and ensure proper use.
Submitting the sitemap
If you've just recently incorporated story content into your website, we strongly recommend that you submit the updated version of your sitemap to Google. Seeing that they are a new concept, we cannot be precisely sure how Google with regarding them in the near future. Therefore, while you don't have to update your sitemap for every piece of content that you add, you should definitely do so for your first stories. By doing so you can rest easy that Google will recognize them and give you the necessary SEO points.
Understanding mobile marketing
One of the main reasons why stories have become so popular is because phones have become the main way through which people spend time online. In 2021, mobile phones accounted for 54.8% of global website traffic. Whether it is watching videos, checking out online shops, or reading various content people are using their phones more and more. With that in mind, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that story content became the emerging trend in marketing.
Take account of different screen sizes
The great thing about modern smartphones is that they are quite accessible. Pretty much anyone, regardless of gender or age, can pick up a phone and learn how to use it. While this bodes well for vertical videos, there are potential downsides to be aware of. One such downside is that content creators need to optimize their content for different screen sizes.
Always take account of different screen sizes.
This is another reason why hiring an experienced designer can be a good idea, as they have the necessary programming knowledge to help you.
All things considered, web stories by Google are a powerful marketing tool. While they won't completely replace the content that was used so far, we do suspect that they will a noteworthy add-on to various marketing efforts. The key thing to remember is that while they are relatively new, you should still do your part in researching them and making the right preparations. Consulting, and even hiring professionals to optimize your story content is a good idea, especially if you have no prior experience.