Over the past year, Google has been making a big push for web content presented using the tappable carousel format popularized by Snapchat and Instagram. However, Google is now issuing a warning against using Web Stories as a “teaser.”

In a blog post today, Google says viewers do not like Web Stories, with only one or two pages, being used as “advertisements for some other content.” Search or Discover “will do its very best to not show these to users” as Google continues to factor content quality. On its part, Google presumably does not want its new format tainted with low-quality content that users avoid automatically. Discouraged practices include:

  • A three-page story that is a list of the “10 best sci-fi TV shows,” but stops at #3 and forces the reader to click through to your blog for more.
  • A one-page story that mentions a recipe in the headline, but is just a bunch of photos that redirect to the website.
  • A list highlighting beautiful cities in Europe, but just listing a city and a photo and pointing to the blog link for any actual information.

Instead Web Stories are best when they tell a full story and aren’t used to “tease” other content. Readers don’t like to feel forced to click through to a connected blog post to finish reading. 

The admonishment explicitly tells creators that Web Stories “likely will not work as a pure acquisition channel where users have to click through to complete their content journey.” They are meant to be a “standalone form of engaging content.” For example, Google suggests having the short version of a recipe, while full instructions require a website visit, or to use the new format as a “making of” behind-the-scenes.

Google explicitly recognizes how teaser Web Stories are born out of creators wanting to “drive users to their main property.” Instead, the company suggests directly monetizing Web Stories using in-between-page ads. Moving forward:

“…ad networks are working on building out and expanding their Web Story integrations, so you should see both CPMs and fill rates improve over time.”

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com