Google Web Stories: Searches Becoming More Social

With Google Web Stories, the search engine giant is trying to regain market share with a more socially-minded audience.

What do Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat all have in common? They’re all social media platforms used by billions of people worldwide for research and entertainment. Plus, they all offer users the ability to share Stories. Now Google wants to get involved.

Note, that’s Stories with a capital ‘S.’ Of course, all of these platforms use different visual storytelling media, so what do we mean by ‘Stories’?

On each app, Stories are used as a ‘quick update.’ They’re a temporary post that disappears after a period of time, usually 24 hours. People and businesses use them to highlight events, sales, or random goings-on that either aren’t ‘photogenic enough’ to be permanent posts, or they carry a timely message that’s only appropriate for now.

TimeZoneOne Google Web Stories Intro

Why Is Google Getting Involved?

More Gen Z and Millennials are using Instagram or Tik Tok as their search engines of choice, according to Pew Research Center and internal data from Google. They don’t want to sift through text-heavy ads, and they want to see honest, unfiltered reviews and recommendations quickly.

Google has noticed that loss of market-share and is trying to become more of a visual search engine. Search for a song, a famous event, or “how to do” just about anything, and more likely than not, Google will display a thumbnail for a photo or video onto its list of search results.

For too long Google has been too text heavy, and they know this. With the introduction of Google Web Stories, all this could be about to change.

What Are Google Web Stories?

One thing’s for sure, Google isn’t reinventing the wheel. After all, if the Stories feature is good enough for practically all of the major social media players, it’s good enough for Google.

The major point of difference is that Google Web Stories are permanent — they’re not a temporary video that disappears after 24 hours. With that in mind, you’ll want to put a bit of thought and effort into creating them. They can become a powerful long-term marketing tool.

What Will Google Web Stories Look Like?

Let’s take a step back for a second.

It’s not enough anymore to have a “mobile friendly” website. If your website isn’t ‘mobile optimized’ or built with mobile in mind, you will get left behind. According to Google, 64 percent of all online retail traffic came from mobile in September 2021, and that number is only set to grow.

So, in the same way that most social media users are engaging on their mobile devices, your Google Web Stories will need to be filmed in portrait mode and optimized for mobile.

If your Web Story answers a person’s search query, then a thumbnail will appear at the top of the search rankings, inviting people to tap for more. From there, they’ll watch your collection of photos or videos, providing them with the information they were after.

What Are The Benefits Of Google Web Stories?

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Are you more likely to click on a plain text listing, or a visually appealing icon?

These short videos (which can also be formatted as photo compilations) will sit on your website in galleries. They will be viewable on your website, but more importantly, they will show up as a playable thumbnail within Google’s search rankings.

On top of driving engagement, Google Web Stories are powerful SEO tools. Each Web Story has a unique URL that allows it to be indexed in Google searches. Think of it as a mini-landing page within your own website. There’s a lot that can go into the back-end of one of these little videos to help you be discovered by the people looking for you.

Unique Web Story analytics will be available in your GA4 Dashboard, so you can see how many people are finding their way to your content via your web story.

Do you work with influencers? Great! Google Web Stories will have a linking function similar to Instagram. You could have influencers create a Web Story that links to your website, or you could create Web Stories that drive traffic to particular products, services or landing pages.

Are You Telling Your Stories?

Right now, the Google Web Stories carousel feature, which allows you to scroll through stories like you would on social media, is only available on the Google Discover app in the USA, India and Brazil. If your brand is targeting people in these areas, get creating!

What is clear is that Google Web Stories can be seen anywhere, by anyone, right now.

It’s only a matter of time before the Web Stories Carousel is rolled out across more locations, and Google Web Stories become more mainstream. If you want to get ahead of the game, and show up for your customers on Web Stories before they become popular, let’s talk.

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