Google Web Stories SEO Guide
Web Stories, formerly known as AMP Stories, are the web-based versions of the Stories you engage with on various social media platforms. Unlike these platform-specific Stories, Web Stories are available freely on the web, discoverable on websites, and through search engines.
As a creator, you can use these visually appealing Web Stories to distribute content across the web, thereby increasing your online presence and engagement, mostly on mobile devices.
Google also supports Web Stories and shows them on Google Discover, Google Search, and Google Images. It even launched a WordPress plugin named Web Stories for WordPress, a WYSIWYG creation tool for developing interactive stories in just a few minutes.
Install and activate Web Stories for WordPress plugin to begin creating stories for your website.
Now the question arises – how to do SEO for Web Stories? What can you do to make Web Stories attractive as well as search-engine-friendly?
Here, I’ve identified the best SEO practices that you must adhere to while creating and optimizing Web Stories. Check them out to perfect the art of ranking Web Stories for desired keywords.
An important note: A Web Story is just another web page with a unique URL. Hence, all SEO strategies that you implement for a web page will apply to a Web Story as well.
None-Technical SEO Tips for Web Stories
First, let’s talk about non-technical SEO, mostly related to the content and on-page optimization. Chances of a Web Story ranking for a set of keywords are higher if you implement all non-technical SEO strategies discussed here.
Let’s proceed ahead to learn the right steps to create informative and engaging Web Stories.
Deliver High-quality Content
Web Stories are all about conveying information in a concise yet engaging manner. Further, you have a few seconds or a couple of minutes to make an impact with a Story. Therefore, you have to attain the right balance between the content and the presentation.
To create a Web Story, you can pick any of the Story editors like Newsroom AI, MakeStories, Visual Stories, Tappable, Bannersnack, and Product Stories.
Now let us move on to a few content creation tips that you can follow while creating Web Stories:
1. Prefer Videos over Images & Texts
You must adopt a video-first approach when making Web Stories if you want more views, better engagement, and higher click-through-rates (CTRs). Even statistics say that 72 percent of customers prefer videos and people who watch videos retain 95 percent of the message conveyed.
2. Focus More on Information, Less on Words
Stories are a media-rich, snackable form of content that lasts a few seconds. Hence, using a lot of text defeats the purpose of publishing Web Stories.
Keep the character count limited to 280 characters per page, just the length of a tweet. Of course, there can be multiple pages in a Story to convey the complete message in a series.
For example, in the above screenshot, the text doesn’t interfere with the image or video in the background. At the same time, it conveys the message most appropriately.
One more thing, ensure text doesn’t overflow, crossing the boundaries and touching the edges which, in turn, renders a poor user experience. Moreover, avoid burned-in text in images and videos because it may not fit well on all screen sizes.
3. Emphasize Storytelling
The one-line story in the above screenshot is the perfect example of storytelling. The writer describes Atai Bi Nana, a sweet mint tea, in context to Morroco’s streets and invokes the traveler in you who’s now longing to experience the Moroccan culture.
Similarly, you should aim at creating Web Stories where you’ll assume the role of a protagonist, taking viewers through multiple pages of a Story, providing fascinating narrative and logical context.
Optimize the Design
There are four components here – logo, title or description, poster image or video, and publishing information. If you are technically sound, you can go through detailed documentation related to metadata guidelines to optimize these four aspects. Right now, let me breakdown this for you here.
1. The Logo
Always add a logo to a Web Story. Since a logo represents a brand, it’s important to use it in a Story. Place it strategically so that it’s distinctly visible, mostly on the corners, away from the title and the description. Check out the logo in the above screenshot.
The minimum resolution of a logo must be 96 × 96 pixels, with an aspect ratio of 1:1. These specifications will ensure the perfect display of a logo in a Web Story.
2. The Title or the Description
The title plays a major role in captivating the attention of viewers. If you can use the right words and characters in the headline, that makes it stand apart from the rest, you’ll witness more viewers and clicks.
For example, consider using numbers, questions, and power words in the titles; most shared headlines contain at least one of these.
Moreover, keep the title as short as possible. Google recommends less than 90 characters, preferably less than 70 characters.
Coming to descriptions, limit them to 280 characters (as discussed in one of the previous sections). Don’t use filler text; keep it as concise as possible. For reference, check out the above screenshot.
One aspect that’s common between titles and descriptions – keywords. The Web Story’s title should be woven around the focus keyword. In the description, try using the focus keyword, but if not possible, don’t force it. However, using related keywords is a must.
3. Poster Image or Video
Stories are mostly about images and videos, that’s the reason they are so engaging. To make an attractive Web Story, consider using vibrant, high-resolution images and videos. Further, enable a full-bleed layout (edge-to-edge display) for both images and videos to render an immersive user experience.
Check the screenshot here.
Talking about the size, a Web Story should be a portrait image or a video of at least 640 × 853 pixels and an aspect ratio of 3:4. To enable Web Stories in desktop mode, you can consider adding support for landscape display by adding supports-landscape attribute in the amp-story element (most of the Story creation tools do it for you).
Try using Stencil, a web-based graphic designing tool to create custom images.
Avoid adding burned-in text in images and videos because it may not fit well on all screens (already discussed before, but it was needed here). You can add text in the form of a title or a description. The text would adapt according to the screen size.
For images, add alt tags to ensure indexing and visibility in search engines. Preferably, use a keyword as an alt tag because it’ll help drive targeted visitors to your story.
Coming to the video length, it should not exceed 15 seconds per page or a maximum of 60 seconds for the complete video story. Since viewers are watching a story just because they want to consume content in the shortest time, there’s no point in using a 5-minute video in a Web Story.
Last but not the least; let the video story play in auto-advance mode. People prefer watching content in a relaxed manner. So if they’ve to tap again and again to turn pages, it may offset their experience.
4. Publishing Information
This section comprises the information related to the publisher. If you are publishing a Web Story, your name or company’s name, along with the logo, will appear at the bottom of the Story on every page (check the screenshot above). So ensure the publisher details are up to date when posting a Story.
Insert a Call-to-action
Finish off the Web Story with a call-to-action on the last page. You can insert a link to your website or any other landing page you want viewers to visit. But ensure the link takes them to a page that’s related to the Story. For example, insert a link to a food blog in a Web Story that’s about rice dishes (check the screenshot in the previous section).
The call-to-action can also be an affiliate link. It means you can earn a decent income by publishing Web Stories. However, don’t overdo it, unless you want to witness a drop in search engine visibility. Use only one affiliate link in a story, preferably at the end.
Technical SEO Tips for Web Stories
Top-notch content ensures enhanced user experience. However, you must take care of the technical SEO aspects as well if you want search engines to discover and rank your Web Stories for related queries.
Go through technical SEO strategies discussed here for a better understanding of SEO for Web Stories.
Adhere to AMP Guidelines
AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. The Web Stories are a part of AMP, an open-source HTML framework supported by Google and other internet behemoths. The web pages built on the AMP framework load faster and perform better on search engines. Therefore, while creating a Web Story, it’s important to follow AMP guidelines.
Some links that you can study to get familiar with AMP and Web Stories are:
You may not use the AMP framework to create Web Stories, but if you know about its components and how it operates, you’ll be able to properly optimize AMP content and boost search engine rankings.
Enable Indexing and Add Stories to the Sitemap
If you want Web Stories to appear in search engines, ensure they are being crawled and indexed by Google, Bing, and others. For this, the Stories should not include a noindex attribute in the code.
If your website is on WordPress, you can install the Yoast SEO plugin to manage SEO settings for a Web Story. You can specify whether you want to index Stories or not and whether SEO settings should be enabled or not. The plugin will also generate the sitemap for Web Stories if you keep them visible in search results.
Now to analyze index coverage and sitemap issues, whether stories appear in search results or not, you can check the reports in webmaster tools like Google Search Console. If there are any errors in the coverage report, you can resolve them as per suggestions.
Story URL should be the Canonical URL
Google clearly states that you should make a Web Story self-canonical. There’s no scope of using link rel= “amphtml” attribute (used for making AMP URLs as the canonical tags) because a Web Story is created on the AMP framework; there’s no other variant. Hence, you should specify the Story URL in the canonical tag.
Further, if you have a web page and a Story on the same topic, search engines will treat them as standalone web experiences. It means you don’t need to specify a canonical URL in either case.
However, if a web page and a Web Story contain the same content, then you need to make the Story URL as the canonical URL to avoid duplication issues.
Make Stories Discoverable on Websites
As mentioned in the previous section, Web Stories appear as standalone experiences having custom URLs, just as web pages. So anybody browsing your website may discover Stories, provided there’s a visible link to the Stories section.
For example, you can create a Custom Link or a Page named Stories and add it to the header menu. On this page, you can display all the Web Stories you publish on your website.
Similarly, you can create custom links on the Home Page or any other section of your website. The purpose is to let visitors discover Stories after they land on your website.
Another way to promote Web Stories is by embedding them in the blog posts and pages. It will render a better user experience, thereby increasing your authority as a content provider.
In WordPress, there’s a block called Web Stories (appears when you use Web Stories for WordPress plugin) that you can use to embed a Story in a page or post.
Follow Web Page SEO Guidelines
Lastly, I’d like to reiterate that Web Stories are just like web pages, only the design and the content type are different. Hence, you can implement most of the SEO strategies for Web Stories that applies to web pages. Some of the best ones are:
Focusing on internal linking: From Web Stories to pages and posts and vice-versa, internal linking can tremendously boost search engine rankings of your website content.
I’ve already covered embedding Stories in pages and posts. To link pages and posts from Stories, you can mention links as Page Attachments in the Web Stories for WordPress plugin (if using WordPress). A “swipe up” link will appear on the page. Check out the screenshot.
Publishing evergreen content: Think of the long-term where you’d like to build the authority of a Web Story so that it ranks on the top of the SERPs for a competitive keyword. To achieve this, you must focus on creating evergreen content that’s in demand for all twelve months and for years to come.
Using focus keyword: It’s important to target a focus keyword so that a Web Story ranks for a particular – or related – query. Insert the main keyword once in the title, URL, and description. Additionally, use phrases related to the main keyword.
Providing valuable content: It may sound obvious but let me tell you one fact – everything is worthless if your content is mediocre. Create mind-blowing content that satisfies the viewer’s doubts and renders a feasible solution. The quality of content has a direct impact on user engagement, retention, and conversion (all three being important SEO factors).
Use Web Stories to Boost Site Traffic
Web Stories made a debut in the second half of 2020. If you start now and focus on publishing Stories regularly, you’ll definitely gain a competitive edge over your competitors.
And since Web Stories are mobile-first, there’s an immense scope to capture top positions in the SERPs for your niche keywords, ultimately resulting in a flood of search traffic.
All you need to do is understand the concept of Web Stories and implement SEO tips mentioned in this post. In a couple of months, you’ll become an expert on Web Stories.
In case you have any doubts, you may ask in the comments. I always look forward to answering your queries.