The best practices for search engine optimization (SEO), user experience (UX), and website design change frequently — keeping up with them is no small task. That’s why one of the best WordPress features is it’s customizability via plugins.
As the online experience continues to shift toward mobile devices, it’s essential for websites to optimize for the mobile experience. In this case, one update in particular stands out: Google’s Web Stories format.
In the summer of 2020, Google released the beta version of its Web Stories for WordPress plugin on Github. However, in September 2020, they released version 1 of the official plugin for all WordPress users.
Web Stories for WordPress allows WordPress users to create mobile-oriented, content-rich, immersive stories for their websites without coding.
Here you’ll learn:
- Why you should use Web Stories for WordPress on your website
- Best practices for creating amazing web stories
Why Should You Use Web Stories for WordPress?
Social media brought along with it a new popular format of online content known as “Stories.” Stories immerse users in a visual narrative using a blend of media formats including video, images, and text.
With Google Web Stories, regular websites can now achieve the same effect that social media stories provide and create a new and engaging way to consume content online.
The purpose of Web Stories is to deliver immersive, shareable, and tappable mobile stories online.
Web Stories AMP-lify Your Mobile Experience
To understand Web Stories, you should be familiar with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP.) AMP is a Google-backed project that uses AMP HTML code to create static pages that load much faster.
What does this mean for you?
If you want to be search-competitive on mobile devices, you need to look at offering AMP-powered pages.
These lightweight website pages are optimized for the mobile experience, resulting in a better user experience and higher SEO scores.
The good news is that the Web Stories for WordPress plugin lets you develop online experiences using the AMP framework, but it takes care of the coding aspect for you.
Web Stories for WordPress Review
If you’re looking to create full-screen immersive web stories on your WordPress website, look no further than Web Stories for WordPress. The Web Stories plugin allows WordPress users to create visually engaging and lightning-fast content pages optimized for mobile use.
It’s What-You-See-is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) interface resembles Canva or Photoshop and makes it easy for anyone to create immersive web stories on WordPress. In other words, you can create full page web stories without needing to code or embed.
The Web Stories plugin includes several templates, as well as the ability to add animations and tappable content. It’s easy to use but flexible enough to allow for customized branding.
Advantages of Web Stories for WordPress
The Google Web Stories plugin provides several benefits for WordPress users, including:
- Creative control and branding freedom
- Faster loading times for stories
- The ability to create elegant and engaging content with ease
- Tools for immersive storytelling to attract readers
- Monetization capabilities
Altogether, this visual storytelling style creates better mobile UX, faster load times, and SEO benefits.
Disadvantages of Web Stories for WordPress
Web stories can provide many SEO and UX benefits, but the WordPress plugin is still in its early stages. Although it’s moved past the beta stage, the first version might be a bit advanced for novice WordPress users.
Specifically, the process of adding meta titles and meta descriptions is clunky, and connecting to Google analytics is too complicated for non-developers.
However, early reviews are overwhelmingly positive, and we expect Google will continue to tidy up the user experience in later versions.
Are There Any Alternatives to Web Stories for WordPress?
MakeStories has also released a WordPress plugin that helps you create beautiful web stories. On October 21, 2020, it’s creators launched version 2.0 of the plugin.
The plugin requires that you create an account on MakeStories.io. The good news is that you can login to MakeStories without leaving WordPress.
The stories you create are stored on the MakeStories servers, rather than WordPress. So, if you decide to move your website off WordPress for some reason, you won’t lose the web stories you’ve created.
Like Google’s plugin, MakeStories allows you to create web stories using a drag-and-drop editor. The software also includes a number of templates and text patterns to help you build content.
The editing process is smooth, and may have some advantages over Google’s plugin as far as user experience goes.
Unfortunately, in version 2.0, the publishing and updating process is a lengthier four steps (rather than a one-press process in the Google plugin).
It should also be noted that while the plugin is free through Q1 of 2021, MakeStories is a software-as-as-service provider. In other words, there’s a good chance that the plugin’s creators will create paid tiers in the future.
Web Stories for WordPress Guide: Best Practices
Since Web Stories for WordPress is still in its early stages, there’s going to be room for improvement. But, that shouldn’t stop you from adding Web Stories to your WordPress website.
Make your stories creation process more manageable with this Web Stories guide.
Recommended Plugins to Use with Web Stories
Yoast SEO provides useful workarounds for some of the areas where Web Stories is lacking. Specifically, you can use Yoast to configure metadata values. Yoast also lets you automatically add different Schema types to your web stories.
Schema tags are used to mark up your HTML code and make it easier for search engines to parse your data. Specifically, most websites use schema markup to create rich snippets that result in higher conversion rates on search result pages.
Unlike basic snippets that only include Title, Meta Description, and URL tags, rich snippets can contain more extensive information such as ratings, videos, or event dates.
In order to create rich snippets, you’ll need to use the Schema.org markup to tag your website data accordingly, and that’s where Yoast SEO comes in handy.
Learn more about Yoast Schema markup.
When it comes to tracking, Google Site Kit makes it easier to track your stories’ performance. With Google Site Kit, you can create a separate tag for AMP stories and set up tracking directly in WordPress.
Focus on High-Quality Content for Your Web Stories
Web stories are an excellent way to increase your search rankings, especially on mobile. Stories are a new format, but they are still website pages at heart.
In other words, you still need to use high-quality media and original content.
To ensure high-quality content with Web Stories, Google recommends:
- Leading with video
- Limiting your total character count
- Ensuring your text is readable
Ultimately, if you create stories that people like visiting, then Google wants to index your pages.
Don’t Forget Links
Although your primary focus should be creating engaging content, remember to follow SEO best practices for linking. If you want your pages to be shareable, they need to be findable.
For best SEO results, make sure you include Web Stories URLs in your sitemap.
Once again, Yoast can help. Use the plugin to access your XML Sitemap and find the links. After that, take some time to add internal links to your other website pages.
Google’s search algorithms have made dramatic shifts in favor of providing the best user experiences, and we expect this trend to continue. The online mobile experience is more important than ever.
Web Stories provide an excellent way to highlight your brand using immersive visual experiences. They’re lightweight, fast, and mobile-optimized.
Businesses need to keep up with the WordPress features that support fantastic user experiences and intuitive design. Plugins like Web Stories for WordPress make it possible to stay current.
To learn more about fast and reliable web hosting for your WordPress website, explore WordPress plans from Bluehost.