What is Google Web Stories, and Should You Care?

Have you ever wondered what if WordPress had the ability to create stories like Facebook, Instagram and Snap Chat? Yeah, me either. Yet, here we are. And now Google Web Stories gives us that ability from the WordPress dashboard.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m sure many people will find value in sharing small bits of info from their websites. And given some of the rumored and confirmed capabilities, there may be something behind this newest venture.

But, I often reserve myself to be a skeptic and to question everything.

What is Google Web Stories?

Essentially, Google Web Stories is a version similar to how Facebook and many other social platforms deliver small bits of information. You can add these animated clips to blog posts or have them pop up as their own website page.

Though, I’m not sure why’d you want to do the latter.

By creating your own flip-book, you can deliver condensed versions of your content that is easier for people to absorb. This does have the potential for being something worthwhile as 500 million people use Facebook stories on a daily basis.

Tappable Elements for the Website

One of the highlighted features of Google Web Stories is the tappable element for mobile devices. This is an obvious addition given how Google puts so much emphasis on mobile interaction.

As long as Google makes it just as easy for desktop users to control, it might have a good use on most sites.

I just hate when developers focus too much on mobile technology and not enough on desktop control or function. As a frame of reference, about 60.92% of visitors to this website do so from a desktop computer.

Bite-Sized Information

One of the big selling points for Google Web Stories is the fact that you’ll be able to deliver small, rich, bursts of information. This is an attraction for many, especially when you consider how effective stories are on other platforms.

What I want to know is how this will impact content creators. Will we shift to small blips compared to long, 2500-word posts on various topics?

I doubt it. Especially when you’re going into detail with a tutorial. Still, you can deliver quite a bit in just a few frames that are visually appealing.

Shareable by Embedding

One of the aspects of this new tool is being able to embed anyone’s story on your website. It’s much like how many infographics have the embed feature attached as well.

But will this mean someone steals your content? Not necessarily. This is because if you delete the story, then it disappears everywhere it was embedded.

And don’t forget about branding your images with your site’s URL, the links will all be to your own content, and someone can even share your affiliate links on their website.

In reality, you could probably get more exposure and make more money if someone embeds your story.

Trackable Elements

Google Web Stories have analytics tied to them in some manner. At the moment, I’m not entirely sure what that means, though.

Of course, at this moment, the plugin is still in Beta stages. So, I suppose we’ll see by what Google means “analytics.” However, the search engine giant has always been good at delivering data.

Affiliate Linking

As I said before, you can add affiliate links within your stories. However, Google suggests you only use one per story. So, don’t load links on every frame.

And you can bet that someone is going to try to push the limits of saturating a story with as many affiliate links as possible. The obvious result is Google filtering out those stories.

But, I suppose we’ll have to see what that entails. At any rate, a single affiliate link may be all you need, especially if people are adding your story to their websites.

Availability on SERPs?

According to Google, Web Stories are available in search if they meet certain criteria. And since this is a fairly new technology, getting on-board with it now might help you get ahead of the competition.

They’ll be available in a number of ways, which includes a grid view or directly within the images portion of search results.

Luckily, Google has a lot of information regarding how to implement a web story. But, that still means you need to create something people will want to watch and read.

Linkable from Others

What if you provide detailed facts regarding a specific topic within your story and people want to link to it as a source? Well, others can link directly to them as well.

In reality, the story can act as its own custom post type within WordPress. Instead of linking to a massive blog post, people can link to a kind of highlights reel that you create.

Now, as long as you can properly monetize the story, this isn’t all that bad of a deal. I’m just skeptical of losing web traffic and monetization if people link to a story rather than a detailed blog post.

And how will linking to stories impact backlinks for SEO?

Audio and Visual Feeds in Google Web Stories

One thing that is interesting is how Google Web Stories allows for integrating audio and video within the frameset. So, it works just like Facebook stories where you can add still images as well as video.

Although I haven’t really played around much with story systems on other platforms, I know several people who do. And, some of them have been quite interesting and entertaining.

I can see how something like this is an attraction and can deliver high-quality materials.

Monetized Ads Within

According to Google, you can still monetize Web Stories. However, it appears to be single-frame ads that can appear within your story timeline. Though, it appears you’ll have to use full-screen stories to enable the feature.

But, like I said before, this is a beta trial run. I’m sure monetizing the story will change quite a bit in future versions to maximize Google’s profit margin. And the more money Google makes, the more money you make.

Even though it’s not a lot in most cases.

What’s the Point of Google Web Stories?

Storytelling is a vital feature of many social networking sites. It’s become quite popular and continues to drive a massive audience. And when you’re talking about hundreds of millions of users, you can bet Google wants to get involved.

So, this is essentially a system that integrates the social attraction while letting you share it on a blog or website.

And I can see some of the potential this has for sharing new types of content and engaging an audience. I’m just not convinced that it’s going to be as immersive as some might believe for the practical blogger.

Sure, it may only take you 20 minutes to whip up some Google Web Stories. But what is the real impact on you as a creator and building an audience? What if your current audience simply doesn’t care about such nuances?

Those are questions that will only get answered by trying the plugin for yourself. And if you’re curious, you can:

Download the Beta for WordPress from Github.

Will You Create Your Own Google Web Stories?

The cynic in me wants to address this as Google’s answer to the question no one asked, “How can we incorporate mobile-ready stories into a blog?” However, Google Web Stories do have a bit of merit when it comes to marketing content.

And since I don’t have time to play around on Instagram or Snap Chat, something like this might be more realistic. Especially when you consider the amount of time I spend on my site as it is.

So, is this something you’ll try out? I’m on the fence, but I’ll try anything once. Who knows, it might be a worthwhile process for driving viral traffic.

Besides, I like the Google Site Kit plugin…maybe this one will be worthwhile.

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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