Web stories: Definition and history
What is a web story?
A bit of history
The web story format is a new kid in the world of the web, it is in 2018 that they make their first appearance under the name of AMP story. At the time, google made it an extension of its AMP (accelerated mobile page) technology.
Despite a common technological base, web stories have, from the outset, presented distinct characteristics from AMP technology.
The main difference is that a web story is a full-fledged page that is relative only to itself and that is distributed on your website. It may sound technical, but it changes absolutely everything.
Although initially pushed by google, this technology is open, the code is available and usable by all without any intervention from google. In addition, there are a multitude of tools to create your web stories.
What a web story looks like
As you can see, a web story technically looks like what you can find as a story on social networks. The standard format of a web story is a mobile portrait format, but it is quite possible to create a desktop version of a web story.
In a web story we can find elements of several natures:
It is therefore a full-fledged web page that can contain any type of content and that although originally designed for mobile can be adapted and consumed on desktop.
They usually consist of a dozen pages and must be self-sufficient. They are not a teaser for your other content, they must tell a complete story. On the other hand, it does not mean that you have to make web stories of 30 pages with text blocks. We will come back to this later in the article.
Pretty cool isn't it?
Don't worry we're going to go into more detail in the third part of this guide to help you create great web stories.
Web story: What are the advantages of this format
Of course we will mainly talk about the comparative advantages with the stories of classic social networks. It is indeed the success of Snapchat and Instagram stories that have inspired google.
This format is very effective for delivering content, it's short, it's animated, it's visual and it's suitable for mobile consumption (70% of web traffic in 2020).
Once these commonalities are listed, come the differences and they are huge:
Web stories do not have a limited lifespan
Unlike social media stories, a web story does not disappear after a limited time, they live like any other page on your website.
Web stories belong to you
And yes, you are the full owner of your web story. You deliver the content you want, the way you want. In addition, you can track their performance with tools like google analytics.
Web stories are indexable
An advantage, and not the least. Your social media posts have a very short lifespan and can only be found on that network. Web stories appear on search engines, so they can be found anywhere on the web and play a leading role in your SEO.
Web stories can contain links
Most social networks sanction the use of outgoing links preferring to keep users in their ecosystem (cuckoo linkedin 😔). With web stories, you can insert links to other content, other sites, whatever. Your story, your rules.
Where can I find web stories?
This is one of the keys to understanding the impact that this technology can have: Where can I find web stories?
The question is judicious, especially since for the moment in France they are still rare.
A web story will be:
On your website
Of course this seems obvious, but it must be remembered that these are not ephemeral content. They live on your website and enrich its content.
On the SERP (search engine response page)
Web stories are simply on the Google search result pages for example. Just like any web page.
In Google Image
Web stories can also be referenced directly in google image, which is a big plus.
In Google discover
At the end of 2020 google announced the arrival of web stories in google discover which is actually the news feed of google chrome on mobile. They occupy a prominent place in the thread and in a dedicated carousel. It is a gigantic traffic that opens up to them. And this demonstrates Google's desire to widely distribute this format.
On your social media
Yes why not! You share your articles on these same social networks so why not your web stories.
The web story is a hybrid content that is probably the format that can be most widely distributed on the internet. The last point on social networks is interesting. We have carried out many tests and with minimal effort a web story can serve as a basis for many publications on social networks such as Pinterest, Instagram or Linkedin and Twitter.
Some think you have to be specialized on one channel at a time. This is often a necessity because our resources are limited, but with web stories we can literally be everywhere even with limited resources, you just have to have the right process. The advantage of not depending on a single channel is that we are no longer vulnerable to the slightest change in the algorithm of the channel in question.
Who uses the web story format today?
Web stories are already widely used by one sector in particular: The mainstream media. The war is raging between them on the internet and it is therefore logical that they have very quickly seized this technology. I am thinking of course of CNN, The BBC, Forbes or Vice.
But their use is spreading, quickly, very quickly even with Cdiscount, Marmiton or Meltygroup which announced in March 2021 the creation of more than 1000 web stories per month this year.
Make no mistake, it remains little used today, it will not last and this is where you have a card to play. Google has the firm intention to promote the dissemination of this format and the competition is weak for the moment, personally I see an opportunity.
If you want to deepen and discover all the possibilities offered by web stories, do not hesitate to consult the site dedicated to the web story format.
Web story: How will they transform your marketing?
Web story and natural referencing (seo)
Web stories work as a page in their own right, and therefore it is indexable content that will be referenced. It is therefore natural that they will improve natural referencing.
But we can go much further. SEO is a complex subject that has evolved a lot and today we often orient a good SEO strategy around a pillar content strategy.
It is a very complete corpus of pages and articles, on subjects with very high volume and which are often competitive. These articles, to be well positioned, must be of very high quality and complete, but they must also be surrounded by other more precise articles on less competitive research. This is basically called a semantic cocoon.
It requires creating a lot of articles, it's very long and it's sometimes a bit complex to make very detailed articles on more specific topics. This is where web stories have a role to play.
Use web stories to densify your semantic cocoons in an important way, it will also allow you to create short formats that are easier to consume to reach a wider audience.
Is it blurry? Let's take an example.
We have an article on SEO, the purpose of this article is to offer a complete guide on the subject in order to help our future customers understand how it works.
It is a very broad and quite complex subject, so the article is long and addresses many concepts such as: Technical SEO, Content, Authority, performance etc.
We will therefore create web stories specifically on each concept. Each web story links to the overall article to broaden its understanding of the subject, and the article links to each of the web stories.
Hop, a complete sub-cocoon that covers all types of media and that will reach people who want very complete content as well as those who prefer very synthetic content and fast to consume.
Do you like it?
Wait and see what's next.
Web story and social networks
Well yes when we talk about story we immediately think social network, however, I made it clear that it was not the same thing. And I can confirm that a web story is not a story, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do anything on social media with your web stories.
We will imagine together that flooding the web with your presence is a game:
Level 1: You have a powerful and clear website (yes yes, it's level 1).
Level 2: You initiate a content strategy based on pillar articles to attract and convert your customers.
Level 3: You make a communication plan on social networks to promote your content and attract other readers.
Level 4: You create web stories to strengthen your core content and expand your reader base.
Level 5: you kill two birds with one stone by declining your web stories into a post on social networks.
Level 99: You do webinars to explain to the world that you are geniuses. Because deep down, you've become digital marketing geniuses. XD
Between level 5 and level 99 there is nothing but regularity and exceeding your goals.
Ok but how exactly do we use, or decline these web stories on social networks?
Web stories consist of a set of pages, these pages can be exported as images in most web story editing tools. So when you make a web story, you can create:
- Classic sharing posts by sharing the web story as such on all social networks, it is a content like any other. So you have a post topic for twitter, linkedin, instagram, facebook, pinterest etc.
But with little more effort, thanks to export, you have:
- A native LinkedIn carousel
- A native instagram story
- A native pinterest story
Of course we can go further, and for some it seems "logical" as a tactic. For others it seems to be practically magic.
In reality it is relatively simple in its operation but mastering the process that goes from, "I have an important blog post" to "I have an article, 5 web story, 30 pinterest pins, 10 linkedin posts, 30 tweets and instagram stories" is not at all elementary.
On the other hand, the impact is massive, you play directly in the big leagues.
To help you, do not hesitate to consult our article and its communication plan template!
Creating Google Web Stories: The Complete Guide
Create a web story in 4 steps
Necessary material: Inspiration, elbow grease and a web story editing tool.
Time needed: 2h. It is very variable, a good process allows you to go faster, at the beginning, it will surely be longer.
Step 1: Find the topic
A web story must have something to tell. It's not a teaser, or an ad, or a sum of completely disjointed pages. The ideal is to decline your blog posts in web story. In our case we start from our main articles which are often long and we make a web story by large part.
Step 2: Create a script
Even if you are inspired by existing content, you will have to rework it. A web story must be self-sufficient and above all it involves a rhythm and a totally different format from an article. Each page contains no more text than a tweet. Create a rhythmic script, one idea per page, expressed in a minimum of words!
Step 3: Illustrate the web story
Once your script is finished, it's time to illustrate it. Web stories are a very visual format, video, photo, gif you have to use to make it pleasant to read. Videos, like text, should be short for an average of 15 seconds. The web story remains a format very suitable for snack content, think about it.
Step 4: Publish your web story
Making a web story is good but it must be viewed to generate value. As with any page of your website it should be accessible from your main pages, ideally from a page dedicated to your web stories accessible from your menu. Do not hesitate to widely disseminate them on your social networks!
Best practices for creating stories
To help you create your web stories here are some best practices to make a webstory that is a hit!
Number of pages
You can very well make web stories of 2 pages and or 200 pages. But the ideal length seems to be between 10 and 15 pages.
Number of characters per page
280 characters max is the length of a tweet. It is important to have text because like a classic page search engines will rely on this text to reference your web story.
A web story is not a teaser
Your web story must bring value and be self-sufficient. It can of course offer additional content but it should not simply serve as an introduction to other content.
Alt tag on images
As with all images on your website, it is important to fill in the alternative tag of the ones you use in your web story. This is important for the SEO and accessibility of your content.
Title tag for videos
There is no alt tag for videos, but there is a "title" that must also be completed for the same reasons.
Complete the metadata
as for all your pages you must complete the data schéma.org, ogp, twitter card ... It's technical but most web story editing tools offer this feature.
Your web stories must be easy to access
directly in your website it is recommended to dedicate a specific page to them, ideally at the root of your domain name and not on a subdomain. So prefer "www.monsupersite.fr/story/ma-story" than "story.monsupersite.fr".
Videos work very well on the web story format, especially because they are more engaging than photos. Nevertheless, they must be short, see it more as clips. 15 seconds is the recommended maximum duration.
WebStory creation tools
The AMP code
The technology of web stories is supported by google and is based on the same type of code as the AMP format. All documentation is available on the dedicated website. You therefore have the opportunity to develop your web story strategy while having full control of its implementation.
The reality is that the main users of web stories are not developers, it is marketers, content managers and traffic managers who have instantly understood what this format can bring. Not having the necessary technical skills you will need something else, and that's good, the choice is not lacking.
The WordPress Plugin
Wordpress, despite some flaws remains by far the most used CMS in the world. Google made no mistake and created a dedicated and free plugin to create web stories from wordpress.
Is it the best tool? Probably not. On the other hand, it is an easy-to-use and free tool to start your adventure with your first google web story for example!
Makestories is one of the most used tools to create web stories. It is very complete, you can do absolutely everything with it without using any line of code. It is also a very competitive tool with a free offer and paid offers up to $ 70 / month for the most advanced needs.
Among the features we find:
- A hundred fully customizable templates and the ability to create your own web story templates.
- Access has image, video and gif banks to speed up the creation process.
- The ability to modify metadata, add attachments, cta (call to action), animations etc.
- Many ways to share your stories on social networks or extract them in image format to do what you want (native post like a linkedin carousel for example).
- The tool also has its own wordpress integration plugin to simplify integration into your wordpress site.
A big plus, I exchanged a lot with their team who is very responsive and very efficient.
The web story tool made in France! Join stories offers all the necessary features for the creation of web stories we find there too:
- Templates that will serve as the basis for all your stories. Unlike makestories they are not entirely editable, the idea being to rely on their template to go much faster in the creation of your stories.
- The ability to export a story to make it a native publication on social networks
- De nombreux widgets d’intégration à votre site web. C’est d’ailleurs leur principale force, proposer une intégration facile, quel que soit votre CMS et sans avoir recours systématiquement à un sous-domaine.
Join story works with beautiful brands like CDiscount or Marmiton.
To discover them: Join stories
Another excellent tool to create web stories effectively, we really appreciate its ergonomics and it is the tool that offers the most extensive free offer. This can help you to do a test at a lower cost.
Just like Join stories and Makestories, we find:
- Templates to facilitate story creation
- The ability to easily share these
- The ability to export them for reuse as a native publication on social networks
- Integration widgets
To discover them: Storifyme
Conclusion, the web story format is in its infancy and we have seen the success and failure of many "story" formats in recent years on social networks. This format has unique qualities and there will be a real bonus for the first users. With our team we have tested and developed an extremely effective strategy to multiply the effectiveness of your communication and your natural referencing through web stories.
If you want to discuss them to understand how to use them well and what is the right strategy to maximize their impact while limiting your investment contact us!