How this Small DMO Boosted their SEO Ranking with CrowdRiff Studio
Learn how Explore Butte County uses CrowdRiff Studio to increase awareness of their destination, boost their content visibility on Google, and build on their existing relationship with the state-level DMO (destination management organization), Visit California.
Existing content was repurposed into an SEO-friendly format that is transferable to multiple channels.
Driving millions of organic impressions on Google Search and Discover.
Enhanced collaboration with Visit California to boost visibility.
Located in Northern California, Butte County is a destination that’s known for its outdoor recreation activities. It’s the largest county north of California’s capital, Sacramento, by population, and is home to a number of renowned parks as well as the California State University, Chico.
Marketing Manager Ashley Baer, part of a small but mighty team of three at Explore Butte County, wanted to highlight the incredible destination and meet travelers where they are with visually driven content. In August 2021, Baer started using CrowdRiff Studio to support Explore Butte County in meeting its goals.
As a lesser-known destination in the leisure travel space, Baer says it can often be a challenge to reach the outdoor enthusiasts Explore Butte County is trying to attract. “You have these beautiful vistas that really are kind of overlooked when we’re showcased against more extreme destinations,” Baer explains. “We’re not that, but we are beautiful, and so we’re really trying to get in front of people who can appreciate the outdoors and the road less traveled.” The DMO is also relatively young, having been formed in 2015.
Explore Butte County’s target audiences include the drive-in market as well as Millennial and Gen Z travel-intenders. Because of that, Baer has been investing more in marketing on visually driven platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
“We want to make sure our audience knows that we’re here and that we’re a destination worth traveling to, and that there are fun things to be had here — we’re building that relationship digitally over time.”
Explore Butte County has also found marketing success in using Google Web Stories, which are tappable, full-frame visual pieces of content, just like the Stories you might find on Snapchat or Instagram. Unlike those Stories, these Web Stories can exist on the open Web, making them ideal for SEO and helping marketers reach even wider audiences than they would on social media platforms alone.
Using CrowdRiff Studio, Explore Butte County has been able to make SEO-friendly Web Stories The purpose-built Web Story Creator enables DMOs to quickly edit, crop, and trim videos without needing complicated software, and helps them convert existing blog content and leverage it into engaging, mobile-friendly Web Stories.
“[Web]Stories help me meet the travelers where they are, giving me the same great content that we have throughout our website and putting it in a format that is differently appealing to a different group of people,” Baer says.
At first, Baer was reluctant to use a tool like CrowdRiff Studio to create Web Stories. (“It felt like just another thing to be added to my plate.”) But when she learned how CrowdRiff Studio would enable Explore Butte County to leverage its partnership with Visit California, and that it had immense SEO capabilities — relying on SEO and keywords to get indexed by Google — she decided to give it a try. And now, she says, “I wish I had gotten started earlier.” Visit California has collaborated with CrowdRiff on a program that enables its partners to access CrowdRiff Studio within a shared network. This allows content to be shared in both directions between the state and its partners.
Explore Butte County uses CrowdRiff Studio to create Web Stories that are embedded on their own DMO website and on the state-level Visit California DMO website. The DMOs also use the Web Stories they create on other social media platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok.
One particularly successful application of CrowdRiff Studio for Explore Butte County was when the DMO created a Web Story about luxury glamping in Paradise, Calif., in conjunction with Visit California’s larger luxury theme for the month of January.
“Through CrowdRiff Studio, that glamping in Paradise Story was our top performing Story for the month, and it has more than 68,000 impressions,” says Baer. “We would not have gotten that kind of attention on that property listing without the Web Story getting onto Visit California’s homepage, and without Google indexing and surfacing it.”
This example demonstrates the power of adopting SEO best practices when creating Web Stories, something that Baer says is really crucial to seeing success with CrowdRiff Studio. “I make sure all my images have keywords on them; I want to make sure every single field is filled in because, for me, this is using the full power of SEO,” Baer says.
Paying close attention to keywords, Baer says, helps Web Stories have an even bigger reach. And Localhood helps Explore Butte County maximize SEO to the fullest.
“I love that CrowdRiff Studio gives me my own little mini feed showing me what other destinations in California are doing for their Web Stories and [I can see those keywords that are being used or not being used.]”
While CrowdRiff Studio helps Explore Butte County get onto Visit California’s website in a way that they might not have been able to previously, it’s also helping them reach people outside of Visit California’s website and their own website, too. “People can find these Web Stories in their Google searches and on Google Discover, so we’re able to get in front of people who aren’t necessarily familiar with the destination marketing space, too,” Baer notes.
She advises other DMOs interested in using CrowdRiff Studio to view it as a long-term investment, and to really hone in on its SEO capabilities for the best results. Butte County has seen impressive results from Google Discover, with their Highway 99 Road Trip Story alone generating more than 1.5 million impressions.
“I’m investing in creating these Web Stories and building up our own personal Web Stories with the hope and understanding that it could be successful in the not-too-distant future as Google shifts more to visual-oriented search and promotes short-form video. I’m already seeing my Web Stories come up in my own Google Discover feed as I’m looking for things, and that’s always exciting.”
Baer adds, “Start now, and be patient. It’s easier than you expect it will be, and the results will come if you’re consistent with putting in the time and effort to create interesting Stories.”
Looking ahead, Baer will be taking her own advice and investing in creating Web Stories using CrowdRiff Studio. “CrowdRiff Studio helps us change the narrative from what is being said about us,” she says. “Now, we get to tell people and potential visitors who we actually are as a destination, and what the people are like and what the attractions are like, or what the recreation is like, and it’s great.”
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