With the introduction of Web Stories by Google, many website owners are wondering whether this is something they could consider using & why it matters to them.
The short answer is – yes, Web Stories matter.
With over 5.6 Billion searches per day, if they choose to make Web Stories stand out in search engine results pages, this is very likely to lead to a higher click-through rate for websites that take the few minutes it takes to go through the following setup process.
The “Stories” format in the various instances we’ve seen across the internet – whether on Facebook, Instagram, and even Snapchat – is undeniably increasing in popularity & one might argue it’s on its way to becoming the norm for content consumption.
In this post, we’ll walk you through how to do search engine optimization of Google Web Stories with the Rank Math.
1. Install & Activate the Web Stories WordPress plugin
First, we’ll install the Web Stories plugin. It is an official plugin developed by Google, but it is still (at the time of this writing) in beta, so it not available on the WordPress repository, and you’ll have to download the zip file from GitHub. Let us show you how to do it.
On the Google GitHub page, click the Download the Beta link to download the zip file to your computer.
Save the plugin file to a place that you can remember, as you’ll need it.
Next, head into the admin area of your website and head over to Plugins > Add New.
On the next page, click the Upload Plugin button on the top left of the page.
The page will expand a bit, and you will see an option to upload the plugin. Click the Choose FIle button to choose the plugin file.
Navigate to the folder where you saved the plugin file and select the zip file for upload.
The file will be selected for upload. Click the Install Now button to upload the plugin.
The plugin will start installing, and it might take a few seconds to finish uploading. Once it is done, click the Activate Plugin button to activate the plugin.
You should now see a Stories menu item in WordPress, using which you should be able to create stories. But, before you do so, you need to perform some steps to optimize them to maximize your chances of getting traffic.
2. Activate the Google Web Stories Module in Rank Math
Rank Math has a module for optimizing Google Web Stories already, but you will need to activate it to use it. Head over to Rank Math > Dashboard and look for the Google Web Stories module. Make sure the toggle is turned on.
3. Configure the Metadata for the Stories
The next step is to configure the metadata for the stories. Head over to Rank Math > Titles and Meta. You’ll find a new tab called Stories there. Click on it to open its settings.
Inside the settings, you’ll be able to customize the following.
– Single Story Title: You can configure the title using Rank Math variables
– Single Story Description: As of right now, this isn’t possible as individual Web Stories don’t support custom meta boxes.
– Schema Type: Only the Article type is supported as of now
– Headline: This option configures the meta title
– Article Type: Choose from one of 3 options. You can also leave it at default values
– Story Robots Meta: This option lets you configure the robots meta of the story. If disabled, the global meta will be used.
4. Create Your Story
Now it is time to create a story. You can create one from scratch by using the Add New option in the Stories menu item. Google has also included some story templates which you can access from Dashboard > Templates.
Here is what the story interface looks like. If you’ve used a browser-based graphic-design tool like Canva or others, you will see the resemblance immediately. That’s good as you will be able to start using the editor immediately.
The editor is pretty simple to use. You can add photos, videos, text, and shapes to create a story. The images and videos are fetched from your gallery, and you can upload media from the story interface directly.
Here is a quick overview.
Overall, the interface is pretty simple, and anyone can use it. We believe that as the story features become more mature, more features and templates will be added.
Pro-tip: Although the shapes are pretty basic, they act as masks as well. You can drop in an image, and it will be clipped to the mask automatically.
Before publishing, make sure to have a look at the Document options. Some of those will need to be configured from your end before publishing the story—for example, the Cover Image, Publisher Logo, and the permalink. The permalink will be auto-generated if you’ve given your story a title.
Once your story is ready, you can publish by clicking the Publish button on the top right.
Here is how the story will appear on your website. If you add more pages to your story, you will be able to scroll through them.
Embedding Stories in Posts
Stories can exist as standalone posts, for the lack of a better word, on your website, and they can be embedded inside your posts as well. Here is how to do that.
When you publish a story, you will get the option to add it to a new post.
If you click the Add To New Post button, a new post will be created on your website with the story embedded.
To manually add any story to a post, head over to Stories > All Stories. Right-click the View option next to your story and copy its link. You can also open the story in a new tab and copy the URL from the address bar.
Next, head to your post and search for the Web Story block. It should be under the embeds section.
Paste the URL of your story in the block and click Embed.
Your story will be embedded in the post.
Making Money With Stories
Most bloggers do have financial incentives when creating content—why should stories be any different? Of course, you need to balance your content to keep your audience engaged, but it is good to know that there is a financial incentive to create story-based content.
Currently, there are 2 ways to monetize stories. Ads and affiliate sales.
Ads work similarly to Google Adsense, where sponsored stories will be added to your stories at some intervals. You can use the Google Ads Manager to manage story ads. Google DV360 can also be used, but it is currently in beta, similar to stories. Support for more servers might be added in the future.
Currently, sponsored stories can only link to other stories, and the user can easily exit the story landing page. The story landing page can contain a CTA, which, if clicked by the user, can take them to a regular web landing page.
The second method to monetize stories is affiliate sales. These are pretty straightforward. If you noticed in the story editor, you could assign URLs to multiple fields in the story.
You can enter your affiliate URLs in the field as they should just as well as regular links. But, it is recommended that you don’t overdo it as Google does not like it. Also, sponsored stories can’t have clickable elements, only a CTA button at a fixed position.
How To Use Stories
Stories live on their own URLs, and they can be embedded in WordPress posts as well. Since there is no information on how stories will appear in Google Search (or when), currently, the best course of action is to convert your posts into a short-form story-like format. The idea being that if anyone visits your page and doesn’t want to read all the information on a page, they can watch the stories and get an overview of the topic quickly. We might consider adding a bunch of stories to this article as well.
As and when the use of stories expands, this strategy can evolve, but for now, this seems the best course of action.
Benefit By Acting Faster Than Other Publishers
And that’s all! Now you’re off to the races. Be one of the earlier publishers to actually implement this now so you can benefit when Google starts using Web Stories to inform the future of search engine results pages.
Frequently Asked Questions About Google Web Stories
What is Web Stories By Google?
Web Stories are a part of Google’s AMP project (more on that later) and are basically a mobile-focused format for publishers to deliver news and other content visually allowing people to tap through “stories” to navigate through content – some suggest the original idea stemmed from many popular social networks such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, and their stories functionality. But Google is now bringing this to the web.
The Web Story format is formerly known as AMP stories and is completely free to use.
What are the recommendations when adding a Google Web Story?
The goal of Web Stories – according to Google – is to create so-called “snackable” content.
– Videos should be no longer than 15 seconds and should have subtitles.
– All video content should be showcased in portrait not in landscape mode so that the viewing experience is optimized for mobile devices.
– The minimum recommended font size is 24.
– An individual page should contain no more than 200 characters.
How does Rank Math help optimize Web Stories for SEO?
When the Google Web Stories module is activated in Rank Math, the plugin automatically adds the required Schema along with the SEO metatags to the page’s source.
Can Individual Web Story Meta Titles & Descriptions Be Adjusted?
Unfortunately not, at this time we aren’t providing a way to change the metadata as-is achievable with other post types. This means you are simply able to set a global template for the meta title of your stories in the settings area. This is because of the way that Story posts work is not simply a custom post type, they create an entirely new page UI of their own.
As Google updates the plugin further and it eventually comes out of beta, we are planning to update the plugin accordingly.
What are the requirements for a site to be eligible for Google Web Stories?
In order to be eligible for Google Web Stories, websites must comply with the Webmaster Guidelines as well as the Google News Content Policies covered in detail on Google’s Publisher Help Center here.
What are the guidelines of using Google Web Stories?
The essential technical guidelines for Web Stories are:
– Completeness: Your Web Stories must be complete & tell the full story.
– Affiliate programs: If you do use affiliate links, it is recommended that you only use a single affiliate link per story and follow the following guidelines for affiliate programs.
– Story length: It is recommended that a Web Story is between 5 and 30 pages in length.
– Title length: Your title length should be less than 40 characters.
– Text: Text on each individual page should be less than 200 characters & works best when there is a single focus.
– Video: Videos should be less than 15 seconds per page and at the very most 60 seconds per page. It is recommended that you provide captions for the video.
How to test if I have added a Web Story correctly?
To test if your Web Story has been successfully created, you can use Google’s AMP Test here.
I have added a Web Story but it is not showing on the search results. Why?
Given that everything is configured correctly, it is important to note that even with the required markup set forth by Google it is still ultimately Google’s choice to show it as a SERP feature. There is not much that can be done to influence the results beyond ensuring that your overall content quality is of an extremely high standard.
Where can I read more about Web Stories in Google Search results?
You can learn more about Google Web Stories and how they appear in Google’s search engine results pages here.
Should I Use Google AMP & Web Stories On My Website?
While this is a great question, it’s not one that we can write a generic answer to. For many website owners, it can be beneficial to implement AMP and start making use of Web Stories since many of their competitors are either already doing so or planning to do so, which means that they could fall behind the curve. That being said, there are also a number of situations where it does not make sense. AMP and Web Stories are primarily geared towards publishers so, this may, for example, not make quite as much sense for websites that generate revenue in different ways.
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