Google Web Stories Explained, The What, Why, and How of Google Web Stories

The recent announcement by Google of a broad distribution strategy for it’s new elements called Google Web Stories has created a lot of buzz. If you are like most of the industry however, you are left reading one small set of documentation on the Google developers site and scratching your head wondering where to start. In this series, we will take an in-depth look at web stories and give you a foundation to get started creating them for yourselves.

Google Web Stories….Never heard of it.

This time, it’s not just my mom that hasn’t heard of something new coming out of Google. Even savvy creators are trying to uncover the mystery!

Quite simply, a Web Story is an interactive web page that lives on your website. You completely control the content, hosting, and monetization strategies. It is very similar in nature to other “story” elements on social platforms like Instagram Stories, Pinterest Story Pins, etc.

Each Google Web Story consists of a series of slides that a user can tap through and view the slide show you have created.

Here is an example of one of our first Web Story creations to give you an idea of what they look like. The content can be anything you want… recipes, directions, travel log, DIY process… whatever fits your audience.


Why have I not seen these before?

As of the writing of this article, Google Web Stories are available to more than 800 million people a month. However, they are viewable only on the Google App on Android and IOS.

To find them is not as easy as one may think. Stories are not a fixed element you can go to and see your distribution at any given time like you might be used to on other social platforms.  According to Google’s documentation, they can appear on Google Search, Google Discover, and Google Images. The only place I have seen them to date however is within the “Discover” portion of the Google app. I’m sure they are elsewhere, but I have yet to find them outside of Discover.

So what is Discover? On the bottom of the Google App, there are icons that look to be custom to the user. The bottom left one seems to remain fixed on phones I have tested with and it is entitled “Discover.” I would describe the Discover element as a “Smart Feed” for Google content. It presents varying types of content based on personal account activity.

Within the Discover smart feed, you will at times find a right-to-left scrollable section titled “Stories.”  Aha…we found them! The stories in each smart feed are custom to the user and generally there are about a dozen stories presented at any given time.

From my experience, the dozen stories you are presented are all you get during a given session. There doesn’t appear to be a way to load additional stories or drill-through to an “all-story” content feed.

I also have experienced where no stories show in my Discover feed at all. So the feed is “smart,” and from a user perspective, maybe a little random. However, at least we know where to look!

These seem like other stories I already create on other social platforms… Why should I care about these?

Google Web Stories are a bit unique, and our strategy and suggestion to our clients would be to get started on them right away.  Here are 3 reasons you should pay attention to these elements:

  1. The Buzz. Web Stories are just getting kicked off on the largest search provider in the world, and already there is a lot of interest and results. We can only speculate that they will continue to proliferate into multiple areas of Google and in turn get even more popular. Now is the time to get those search crawlers to index your stories!
  2. You’re in Control. Google has done this right by allowing the creator to control the entirety of the content and monetization. You can earn money through embedded ads, affiliate programs, or any variety of creative ways to funnel your traffic to your wallet. The same can’t be said for most other social platforms that support a story format. Spending resources on Google Web Stories could potentially have a measurable ROI. Finally!
  3. Real Results.  Currently Web Stories are yielding very strong results for creators that are leading the charge. One of our clients experienced a 5,000% increase in organic search traffic in a 2 day period. Yes, that percentage has 3 zeros! They really are driving traffic here in the early days. Will that traffic continue is anyone’s guess I suppose, but we are anticipating a stronger proliferation of distribution of these elements as time goes, so we are bullish on these today.

How do I create Google Web Stories?

Continue to the next article in our series to read our do-it-yourself guide on How to Create Google Web Stories.

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