Tips for Creating Google Web Stories
Are you a food blogger to add some extra excitement to your website? Google Web Stories may be the perfect solution! This unique tool allows you to create narrated slideshows that bring your recipes and culinary creations to life. In this post, we’ll provide some tips for creating Google Web Stories that will help you grow your audience. So get ready to take your blog’s content to the next level!
If you have never made a web story before, you are probably leaving a lot of website traffic behind. These are easy to make and get in front of more people then your regular blog content. The benefits of web stories for food bloggers explains more about why they help us grow!
First I want to say that I absolutely love creating these short little stories. They are fun to make, easy to make and quite often bring me a lot of traffic to my food blog.
I haven’t done any yet on this blog as of writing this post, but will be soon. I have over 30 on my food blog and still creating more! Here is the page I have dedicated to all of my stories – Kitchen and a Latte stories.
I keep mine simple and as you can see if you check mine out, I have played around with various set-ups.
Picking the web story to create
Web stories can be stand alone (as in there is no post that you are linking to), they can supplement a post (more visual and helps to promote a post) or you can even use them with affiliate links (I have not done this yet.)
Mostly I use them to supplement my recipes. It helps me to gain more traffic to my recipes and readers love them! So how do I know which recipe to use to create a web story?
There are many people that say you should do your most popular posts. I personally do not like to use my popular ones but I do encourage you to experiment here. Different things work for different blogs. Try an unpopular one and maybe try a popular one until you find what is best for you.
I like to do them for recipes that are super delicious but I struggle to rank for over using a popular post. Why? Because the web stories rank better then the hard to rank post and they bring me traffic that I normally wouldn’t get. New readers get to see how amazing my recipe is where without the story, they likely wouldn’t get to see it.
Another way I do select them is by season. My chili story was done in January while my burger story was done in late spring. So for me, it is a harder to rank post that is coming into season.
How will you create it?
I love to use the web story plugin by Google. It is 100% free, no upgrades are even available so you do not pay anything to use all the features. Perfect! I do think there are other ways to do them, but I prefer to keep it simple with the plugin.
You can explore templates that are already created and available to use, you can create your story from scratch and even create your own templates to keep your brand the same. I do recommend playing around to see what works first before committing to a particular template. Here are just a couple of the templates to choose from that are preformatted:
I honestly do not use templates often and love to mostly add the images as background images with the text over it. Do play around with the designing, there is a lot you can do.
As a Note:
The web story plugin is for self hosted WordPress. I only use self hosted WordPress for all of my blogs so I am sorry that I am not sure how to implement them on other platforms.
Designing the web story
Pick out your template if you are using one and decide on the pictures you will use. I use images that are already on my blog and if I need to upload more, then I upload the ones I need.
I make them with a featured image, an ingredient shot (if I have one for that recipe), and I add process shots that are most relevant for each slide. You do not have to remake and retake pictures for a story, but try to match the most relevant process shot.
I try to keep mine between 7-10 slides for each story. Do not add bloat to make it to 7 pages – if it is something like a tuna sandwich, you can’t squeeze it across 7 pages. But most recipes can be done it 7-10 pages.
This is how I do the slides and it works for me
- Page 1 – a featured image. In the beginning I started with the title of the story on the first page, but I am realizing that is not necessary. There is already a title page that shows up on Google. The first page can be why they love it or what is so amazing about the recipe. Maybe “great for picnics and cookouts” along with a little more about it.
- Page 2 – ingredients. I try to add the amounts as well to keep them engaged with the story. They shouldn’t NEED to visit my linked post to see what is in it but WANT to go to my recipe after seeing my story. I say try because sometimes there is just too much text to add the amounts, but I always add all the ingredients to the story. You can break it up into pages for complicated ones recipes. Something like “lasagna ingredients” on a page and then next page “homemade lasagna sauce ingredients.” This will help it fit better.
- Pages 3 and up to end of instructions – all the instructions. Give them all the details. Many people do not do this, but it is best practice. Google wants stories to be quality content not so much a preview where you have to click just to see what is in the recipe. It is also best for user experience to offer the full recipe, but do not add your tips and substitutions. They will need to visit your post for the extras.
- Last page or second to last page – the featured image again. Usually I put an “Enjoy” with some extra text that helps them. Maybe it can be decorated with extra sprinkles or if it is a taco post you can add your favorite toppings to this page. Sometimes this is my last page and sometimes second to last.
- Last page (for real) – optional but recommended when you can do this, more similar recipes. For my burgers web story, I added a page at the end that had “other great grilled dishes” and I linked to 3 other grilled dishes on my site. Example shown in picture below:
Adding text and links
The text I like to add directly through the plugin. When the text is added through the plugin, it is formatted so screen readers are able to read it making it more accessible to everyone. Play around with the text to see what size you like. I like to add a fill to the background of the text box, but it isn’t required (but highly recommended if the text is hard to read.)
Links in the web stories
Links can be added to each page of the web story and you can add up to 3 links per page. The amount of links are decided by Google and are subject to change. At the time of the post you could add 3. I do NOT recommend adding 3 links on every page just because you can. I add it on the last page if I am sharing other similar recipes, but otherwise I only add 1 (or none) per slide.
You can add links in a few different ways:
- Add a link to an image. In the example above I could have added the link to the pictures of my grilled dishes. I added it to the titles instead.
- Add a link to text. You can add a link to the text like I did in the example above for my grilled dishes. I recommend underlining the text so people know it is a link.
- As a call to action. This is the one I use most! The call to action is under the style tab and has to be attached to the background. You can add a “Go to Recipe” or what you would like your cta button to say. The default is “Learn More” when you add the link to the call to action box.
You do not have to or you can add the call to action on every page. This is something you can play around with to see what works best for you.
Remember that a story is a web page so you are going to use similar SEO for them. But I do not add keywords across all of the slides – yikes that would be a hot mess!
The best things to focus on for this are quality content (pretty sure I am drilling this point), a description and title.
Your description should be optimized for your keyword. Do NOT over optimize this, never stuff keywords anywhere (web page, web story or anywhere.) But a simple 1-2 keywords in the short description. You can add things like “this ________ is the perfect cookout food that your family will love…” This says hey “recipe keyword” is something I have to have for my cookout. Or maybe you want to add something about ingredients into your descriptions. Like “This is the best________ without ketchup and it is easy to make.”
The title should describe the recipe (with your keyword) and I usually keep it close to the title of the recipe post I am linking to.
As a Note:
My web stories do pretty well and have been a huge benefit to me and my readers. BUT I am not an SEO expert and there may be other great things that will benefit your story from an SEO standpoint. This is how I do them and it works for me.
Our Best Practices Advice
We have a few best practices that we recommend you follow. This will help you create amazing web stories to help grow your food blog!
- Keep them short but and on point. Each page should have no more then 200 characters so keep the pages reasonable in length.
- ALWAYS remember user experience first! I know some food bloggers are creating them with very little information so they have to click to get it. That is not good user experience and can be bad for time on page.
- Keep the links to a minimum. No reason to add a ton of links on every page. This should be a step by step slide to go along with your recipe, not spammy content.
- Add all the ingredients and steps. This is huge! Google wants web stories to be quality content, not a free no content ad back to your recipe post. And honestly, this helps with time on page! You don’t want somebody clicking over to your post because the image looks amazing but then find out you have ingredients then cannot have. They will click away faster then you can say sorry. But when they see the ingredients and how it is made, they want your recipe when they click to your post. Much better!
- Follow Google’s best practices for web stories. You want them to show up in Google, right? They are simple rules but highly recommended to follow them.
- Always run them through the AMP test to be sure it is a valid web story after posting. It will tell you if you have a problem. Problems can usually be avoided by checking your checklist while editing your story.
- Have some fun with it and be creative! Seriously, it is the only way to find out what truly works for you and your food blog.
Frequently asked questions
Yes and no. Yes because you may not get as many clicks over to your post with all the info, but not because of what you think. People will know by your story if they will like your recipe and want to make it. So you won’t get people who do not like all the ingredients or if it is hard for them to make.
But you will get people who want your recipe because they see the ingredients and instructions. They know what to expect and like what they see, do you see where this matters? More time on page – yes please!
Yes you can! I have done it many times, but I try to keep it relevant to the slide. My featured image is always used on 2 slides. Ingredient pictures get used more then once if I have 2 pages of ingredients – for more complicated recipes.
I do but you do not have to. Google is usually really good about indexing content quickly, but I like to test the web story then index.
This is occasionally an issue and I have heard many different people say many different things here. I have requested it again after a week, but I find that Google will put it up when it thinks it is best to do so. Indexing it multiple times does not put it higher up the ladder to be indexed.
All of mine have been indexed even after 2 weeks of not indexing. Please note that this is not all the time, quite often they index fast.
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