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Episode 479: Are Web Stories Dead? (+How to Bulk Up Your Traffic) with Lynn Polito

In this episode, Megan chats to Lynn Polito about whether we should still be making Web Stories and how they can help us bulk up our blog traffic.

We cover information about the future of web stories, how to create them, what animations to use and other logistics to make them go viral and boost your site traffic.

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.

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Guest Details

Connect with Lynn’s Way of Life
Website | Instagram | Facebook

Bio Lynn has been a food blogger for a little over 2.5 years. Her niche is creating recipes using 10 ingredients or less. She also focuses on almost all of the ingredients being pantry staples.

Takeaways

  • Use web stories to BOOST TRAFFIC to your blog without having to post new content frequently.
  • It can help your post appear in GOOGLE DISCOVER.
  • Choose SEASONAL RECIPES for web stories.
  • What should you put in a web story in terms of SLIDES AND ANIMATIONS?
  • Post web stories CONSISTENLY and track results.
  • You can SCHEDULE web stories in advance.
  • What should you change when DUPLICATING a web story?
  • The new Google algorithm is not pushing web stories as much, but it’s still a good SOURCE OF TRAFFIC and WORTH THE TIME investment.

Transcript

Click for full script.

EBT479 – Lynn Polito

Intro 00:00

Food bloggers, hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate your blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve your freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional. I’m Megan Porta. I have been a food blogger for 13 years, so I understand how isolating food blogging can be. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you know that you are heard and supported. 

We have heard so much in this space that web stories are dead. They’re going away, they don’t bring traffic anymore. And at the time of recording this episode, that is just simply not true. Lynn Polito from Lynn’s Way of Life joins me in this interview. And together we are just saying keep at it. Keep doing web stories because they still have the potential to bring lots of traffic to your site, especially if you are aiming to get on an ad network. This is a really good way to bulk up your traffic. Lynn talks through all of the logistics, how she creates them, how many slides, what she does with animations when she posts them, and all of the other details you’ll need to know plus her thoughts about the future of web stories. This is episode number 479, Sponsored by RankIQ.

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Megan Porta 02:34

Lynn Polito has been a food blogger for a little over two and a half years now. Her niche is creating recipes using 10 ingredients or less. She also focuses on almost all of the ingredients being pantry staples. Good morning, Lynn. How are you today?

Lynn Polito 02:48

Good morning. How are you? I’m doing well, thank you.

Megan Porta 02:51

I’m good too. Super excited to start my day with a chat with you about web stories. Before we get into it though, what fun fact do, do you have to share with us?

Lynn Polito 03:00

So my fun fact is that in college, a lot of people study abroad, but I actually worked in Walt Disney World for a full semester in college. It was the only semester I got a 4.0. But yes, I did work in Walt Disney World and two of the hotels down there.

Megan Porta 03:19

Oh, cool. What did you do at the hotels?

Lynn Polito 03:21

I was a hospitality management major in college. So I worked front desk at two of the resorts down there and I got a lot of learning experience for four months. And then I went back to school.

Megan Porta 03:32

I bet that was so fun. Did you love it?

Lynn Polito 03:35

It was, it was a lot of fun. We got to go to the parks for free and made a lot of good friends from all over the country and international and it was a lot of fun for a college student. We didn’t get paid much, but we did get paid, especially for an internship.

Megan Porta 03:50

Yeah, right.

Lynn Polito 03:52

But it was a lot of fun.

Megan Porta 03:53

More about the experience and the learning. Right?

Lynn Polito 03:55

Right. Exactly. Especially being in a ho hospitality management, like the Walt Disney Company is highest when it comes to hospitality. So it was a really great experience.

Megan Porta 04:05

Awesome. I love that. I would definitely get a 4.0 for that too.

Lynn Polito 04:09

Yes, exactly.

Megan Porta 04:10

Yeah. Okay. We’re going to talk about web stories today, what’s working, what’s not. Should we still be doing them all of the good stuff, but I think first would you just tell us a little bit about your blog, Lynn.

Lynn Polito 04:21

Sure. So my blog is Lynn’s Way of Life. I create recipes using 10 ingredients or less. I had started my journey actually over quarantine like a lot of people did. I was at home with my son who was 18 months old, and my daughter who is three and a half, and to kind of, you know, get rid of all the stress from just being cooped up in the house. I started baking a lot and posting on Instagram. Then October of 2020, I finally made a blog and I did it all wrong. I was on wordpress.com. I had, I was running ads from wordpress.com, like immediately, so it was just all wrong. So I was talking to my husband about the investment and he was always been very supportive. So I just started trying to make a goal of to just pay for my daughter’s preschool. And she was in school for like three days, half days, every, you know, three days a week, half days. So it wasn’t a big investment, but it was just a goal to kind of get me to move forward. So in April of 2021, I kind of got really serious about it. I joined communities, I started listening to podcasts and I was really pumping out content. And then finally in October of 2022, I joined MediaVine. And I’ve been able to, yeah, so I’ve been on MediaVine for about a year now and, and I’ve been able to kind of make this a, a full-time job and to bring back an income that I lost when I, when I became stay a stay-at-home mom with my daughter and my son.

Megan Porta 05:45

I feel like once you get into an ad network, it kind of opens up other options. Like all, you know, your site has just been on that ad network and then when you get there you’re like, okay, now what? So I can kind of start learning other things. Right?

Lynn Polito 05:58

Exactly.

Megan Porta 05:59

So at what point did you decide that web stories were worth your time?

Lynn Polito 06:02

So everyone was kind of talking about web stories on podcasts and things that I was listening to. So I decided to try it out and I started seeing a little bit of traffic coming from it. But then as I got more and more consistent, I started seeing a lot more traffic. And this summer, it was of my first summer where my daughter had just finished kindergarten, so she was in school all the time. So I wanted to really make this summer about my kids and I didn’t want to have to pump out, you know, three or four recipes a week and do that. So I really wanted to focus on my kids. So I decided I was going to kind of step back from making content, but I still wanted to be on top of my blog. So I said I’m going to just make a web story a day pretty easy once you get a template for it. So I did that and I had some web stories just absolutely explode and bring me tons of traffic. So since then I’ve kind of been an advocate for web stories and making the most out of web stories.

Megan Porta 07:00

I love your strategy. I am sad to say I didn’t think of that, but I do love to focus on my kids during the summer. So I tend to not post a lot of content like publish on my blog. But I didn’t think about just replacing that with web stories because it’s a fraction of the time. And it has the potential to just explode, like you said.

Lynn Polito 07:20

Right, exactly. And it takes, it takes only a few minutes once you kind of get the hang of it. So before my kids would wake up, I’d pump out a 15 minute web story and then just go on my day.

Megan Porta 07:30

Oh, that’s so smart. Okay, I’m going to put that in my back pocket for next summer. So as we’re recording it is November of 2023. Do you want to talk about just kind of where web stories are at? I know they’ve been kind of fluctuating like some months it feels like they’re working some, it feels like they aren’t kind of all over the place. Where are they at now after the, I guess we’re kind of in another update from what I hear, but after the September and October updates, where are we at with those?

Lynn Polito 07:59

Yeah, so I think after the September one, I didn’t get much traffic at all from web stories, but I think after the October once they kind of brought them back and they’re not pushing them as much as they were this past summer, but I am still getting traffic. Like this past weekend I did have one that took off and it did bring me a significant amount of traffic. So I think it’s really just staying consistent with it and finding the right web stories to make. And I think that you’ll be able to get some traffic from them.

Megan Porta 08:29

Okay. I’m not an SEO expert at all, so take this with a grain of salt, but I heard I, somebody posted maybe Google posted on Twitter, which is now what X, that there was a mistake that they had made or something with like how they roll out. I don’t think they mentioned web stories, but it was more like Google Discover traffic. And that they announced that they were kind of rolling back and fixing that. And since I saw that update, I’ve heard so many food bloggers say, oh, now my web stories are exploding. So maybe, I don’t know. In my mind it was like maybe something there was tied together.

Lynn Polito 09:05

Yeah, I definitely think that’s possible. I do think that’s possible. I’ve, I’ve had luck with Google Discover when there’s been a significant amount of traffic to one blog post. So for example, if I create a new blog post and then I send it out to my email list, plus I’ll share it on Facebook and make a web story, that’s a lot of different traffic sources that are going back to my site. And then Google Discover usually picks that up. So I’m hoping with this new rollout and this new update that that is still the case.

Megan Porta 09:38

Yes, I have definitely seen that as well. Like the, also for me, it needs to be kind of seasonal. Like the topic needs to be seasonal and then if you push it out on a bunch of different places that do well, then discovers like, oh, this is a great post to highlight. Okay. So let’s talk about the nitty gritty of web stories. What kind of, what each one needs. First of all, where do you, how do you choose? So if you’ve got a database of recipes on your blog, maybe a couple hundred posts published, how do you choose which one to publish?

Lynn Polito 10:11

So right now I’m focusing on, like we said, it’s November of 2023. So right now I’m trying to focus a lot on Thanksgiving recipes. So the web story that I had spoken about this weekend that kind of took off was a two-ingredient sweet potato dinner roll. So people are starting to look for those Thanksgiving recipes and those are the kinds that are, are being pushed. So I would say keep it seasonal, keep it things that are trending. Like right now, I probably wouldn’t make a recipe for a pasta salad on a web story. Yeah. Keep it to stuffings and mashed potatoes and things like that. But as Easter comes and the summer comes, keep your web stories seasonal because that’s what people are looking for on Google.

Sponsor 10:54

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Megan Porta 12:25

So once you’re inside of your plugin, what do you need to think about? You know, like what do you put together inside of each web story?

Lynn Polito 12:33

So each web story, I keep 10 to 12 slides. People probably aren’t going to be pushing through 25 slides of a web story. I think keep it concise, 10 to 12 slides on the first slide, I’ll put what the title is, a picture and then a swipe up. You can do a swipe up that way. Then when people swipe up, it takes them right to your blog and right to the recipe. Okay. And then the next page, I’ll do an intro, what this recipe is about and then a click for recipe button. That way they can just click and go right to your site. And then the next few slides will be the step-by-step ingredient shots. And then the last one is a hero shot with once again a, a swipe up. And then the very last slide is a recipes you will also like. And I usually put three recipes that have to do with that one. So if it’s a dinner roll, I’ll do three other dinner roll recipes or a stuffing and mashed potato and something like that on that last slide, so that people have other options for recipes that are also on your blog.

Megan Porta 13:33

Do you do a call to action to get people on your subscriber list or email list?

Lynn Polito 13:38

I don’t do that, but that’s a great idea.

Megan Porta 13:40

I do that. I started maybe, I don’t know, a year ago and I’ve gotten quite a few subscribers that way.

Lynn Polito 13:46

Wow, okay. That’s definitely something that I’m going to start doing.

Megan Porta 13:48

Yeah, I just have it kind of standard in my set template. Just as like a last final slide. Like if you love these recipes then you know, sign up, whatever. And then what about like animations or videos? I know that people like movement these days. Do you add any of those elements?

Lynn Polito 14:08

I do. I try to keep it simple. Once again, I heard this on Facebook through a web stories group that I’m in that’s somebody said to kind of keep the animations consistent. So as you’re going through, I usually do the fade in one because it’s very simple. I probably wouldn’t do, you know, flying from the left. Flying from the right, you know, it kind of gets a little bit too much. So when it comes to animations, I would say keep it simple and keep it consistent. So if you’re, I do a fade in on every one, so it’s not all sorts of different texts flying at you while you’re looking at a web story.

Megan Porta 14:43

That makes sense. Make people sick.

Lynn Polito 14:46

Exactly.

Megan Porta 14:48

And then is there anything else we need to know within the actual web store you’re building?

Lynn Polito 14:52

That’s about it. Once I do publish it, I do go to Google Search Console and try and get it indexed immediately. Yeah, I’ve found that that’s helpful. That way you don’t have to wait for Google to come to your site and re crawl it. You kind of push it to them and say, this is up there, index it. And then usually about two to three days after that, I see some traffic coming from those web stories.

Megan Porta 15:14

And it can happen even sooner. I found too, if you’re lucky, I mean I wouldn’t say like all the time, but sometimes I’m like, oh, that happened fast.

Lynn Polito 15:21

Yes. Oh, and one other thing I wanted to mention is that I use RankIQ for all of my blog posts and I do find that if I use some of those top RankIQ words for web stories, they tend to do well as well.

Megan Porta 15:34

That’s a great tip. Love that. I haven’t done that. And then when do you post them? Is there a time of day that works best?

Lynn Polito 15:41

I tend to do it in the morning just so that I can, I know that each day I’ve got a web story posted, but Google, you know, it does what it wants to do. So even if I post it in the morning, it may not index it till the next day at night. So it’s kind of a, a toss up when it’ll actually be indexed. But I try and do it consistently in the morning to know that I’ve done it, have it off my to-do list and move on with my day.

Megan Porta 16:07

Do you use Google Trends to find keywords as well?

Lynn Polito 16:11

I have used Google Trends in the past and it does help sometimes I’ve found, like in the summer people are searching for, you know, rainbow pasta salad and if I have a pasta salad with try color pasta, I’ll rename that as rainbow pasta salad. That way it comes up as a web story. I’ll rename it in my web story as a rainbow pasta salad. And I have had luck with that.

Megan Porta 16:34

Yeah. Here’s something I’m wondering too, like if people are, because I know a lot of people are like, well I need to use Google Trends in order to align the keywords. Right? . So if they go to Google Trends and they don’t see anything that aligns, it’s still okay to publish with your own keyword.

Lynn Polito 16:49

Right. Yes, definitely. I would say just when it comes to Google Trends, kind of just use it as a starting point, but don’t stress about it too much.

Megan Porta 16:58

Okay. I like that. Thank you for the permission. And then do you ever schedule out, or do you just publish on the spot?

Lynn Polito 17:05

I have scheduled out, yes. Like this summer I had gone on vacation and I knew I wasn’t going to be in my computer. So the week before I scheduled the out web stories and those, I did not push through Google Search console because I wasn’t going back to my computer to push it out. And I did find that I had some success with that as well. The, it’s very easy to do right when you hit publish on your Google web story, it’ll tell you to publish immediately or there’s a little calendar there. You can choose what day and time you want to push it out. And if you are scheduling, I would say it’s best to keep it consistent. So every day publish one at eight o’clock while you’re scheduling it out.

Megan Porta 17:45

Okay. And then this is a topic that I’ve heard tossed around a lot, the whole duplicating. So if you have a web story that hasn’t performed well, it’s just kind of dead, and maybe it was like three months ago you published it, can you duplicate it and how do we do that?

Lynn Polito 18:01

Yes. I have duplicated a lot of my web stories, especially over the summer when I wasn’t posting anything new. So I’ll duplicate a web story, change the cover photo, change the name of the web story and try and make it, you know, use one of those describer words. So simple pancakes or fluffy pancakes, something like that, that you think that people will be looking for. But definitely change the title page and change the title of the web story.

Megan Porta 18:32

Okay. I’m trying to think. Someone in my mastermind group got a notification from Google because she was doing this a lot and I can’t remember the details, but it was like, maybe she wasn’t changing enough or something. So, oh gosh and I, I wish I had more details, but it just makes me a little bit nervous duplicating a ton, because I think that it can be seen as duplicate content through Google’s eyes if you’re doing it a bunch and you’re not changing it. So if it sees it like as the same web story basically, but then twice or three times, then that can go against you. So just be careful. like, I’ve been trying to go through and do exactly what you said, like change the cover for sure. Like change the name, the title, but then like kind of tweaking stuff inside too. And then maybe making the last call to action slide with like directing them to a roundup or something. I don’t know, just making it different enough or something like that.

Lynn Polito 19:30

Yeah, that’s definitely true. And also I don’t really duplicate it. If I have a web story that I made last month, I won’t duplicate it again for this month. I try and keep a pretty good amount of time between the web stories.

Megan Porta 19:43

Yeah. That’s a good amount of time, I think. And then anything else we need to know about kind of logistics, timing, anything we’ve missed on that?

Lynn Polito 19:53

I don’t think so. I think that’s pretty much all I have for that.

Megan Porta 19:56

And then what do you think about, where are web stories going then?

Lynn Polito 19:59

You know, with Google, you never quite know. I do still see them a lot. I think that people still like seeing them and still use them. So I’m hoping that they stay around because they are a great way to bring traffic into your blog. They are fun to make and they’re fun to watch. So I, I’m hoping that they stay around and like we said, I think that after this most recent update, they, they are still bringing traffic to, to blogs and to websites.

Megan Porta 20:23

I’ll tell you a little secret. And now it’s not going to be a secret because everyone’s going to hear it, but there are, I’m not going to mention any names, but there are some people who talk to food bloggers who carry weight in our space, who keep saying that web stories are like going away. They’re dying, they hate them, they’re stupid. Like I’ve heard so many negative things and I’m like, why are you saying this? They’re still working and they’re still bringing in traffic. It drives me crazy. So I think that hearing those words has caused a lot of people to step back from them, which has opened up space for the rest of us who are still doing them. They’re still, I definitely, I mean, they are still working, so please keep doing them.

Lynn Polito 21:06

Yeah. And once you have a template down, it’s really just a plug and play kind of thing. Like, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just find a template, insert your pictures, change the words, you know, to fit the recipe. And it’s really easy to do. It takes 10 to 15 minutes. It’s, it’s not anything that’s reinventing the wheel or super hard.

Megan Porta 21:26

It is so easy and it seems overwhelming if you haven’t started to like, oh, I have to create a, an entirely new web story every time. That’s not true. You can duplicate and change it and like, tops 15 minutes. It takes me when I’m doing that, it’s so easy and it’s so easy to incorporate into a morning routine of like, oh, I, you know, I’m just sitting down, I checked my email, create a web story right away. So it’s done. So yeah, it is working. Please use them while they’re working there. It’s such a good way to bring in traffic. And when you hit those viral web stories, it’s so exciting, isn’t it?

Lynn Polito 21:59

It is. It’s crazy. One time I had one over the summer and I actually went to my host and I was like, what is wrong ? There’s too many people on my blog right now. And he was like, no, it’s a web story that seems to have taken off. Because it was so crazy.

Megan Porta 22:14

I love that. Okay. Anything else for encouragement for food bloggers with web stories or any details that we’ve missed, Lynn?

Lynn Polito 22:22

I think that’s it. Like we said, it’s still a great source of traffic, so don’t give up on them and, and keep them moving.

Megan Porta 22:27

Yes, yes, yes. Well, thank you for this. I think it’s been a while since we’ve published an episode about web stories just because of that. Like, people are like, well, they’re going away. I think they’re dead. They’re not. So keep doing them. Thank you for bringing life back into this topic. We appreciate it, Lynn.

Lynn Polito 22:41

Thank you for having me.

Megan Porta 22:42

Yeah. Do you have a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with today?

Lynn Polito 22:46

Sure. Since I had mentioned at the beginning of the show that I worked in Walt Disney World, I figured I’d have a Disney quote. All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

Megan Porta 22:56

Aw, love that. I love how you tied that to your quote or your fun fact. We’ll put together show notes for you, Lynn, if you want to go look at those, head to eatblogtalk.com/lynnswayoflife. Tell everyone where they can find you.

Lynn Polito 23:10

You can find me @lynnswayoflife on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Lynnswayoflife.com is my blog.

Megan Porta 23:17

Everyone go check out all of Lynn’s stuff. Thank you so much again for being here, Lynn, and thank you for listening food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.

Outro 23:27

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Please share this episode with a friend who would benefit from tuning in. I will see you next time.


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Megan
Megan

Megan started her food blog Pip and Ebby in 2010 and food blogging has been her full-time career since 2013. Her passion for blogging has grown into an intense desire to help fellow food bloggers find the information, insight, and community they need in order to find success.

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