Chances are you’re probably familiar with “Stories” on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. But did you know that Google also has its own form of visually driven content called Google Web Stories? These Stories are gathering traction — and quickly becoming a highly effective marketing channel for destination marketers.
What are Google Web Stories?
Just like the Stories you find on Instagram or Snapchat, Google Web Stories are tappable, full-frame visual pieces of content. But unlike those other Stories, you can easily find Web Stories on the open Web, making them ideal for SEO and reaching even wider audiences than on social media platforms alone. These content pieces have a dedicated section in mobile search results in the U.S., you’ll see them in their own “Visual Stories” section.
Not only that, but the number of distribution channels for Web Stories is expansive. They can be easily embedded in a destination’s website or shared on social media platforms. That means more people can view these Stories and, unlike other Story formats that disappear quickly when viewed on a social media platform like Instagram or Snapchat, these Stories have actual permanence and stickiness because you can find them on the Web.
Web Stories created by DMOs are also showing up in Google Discover, which might just be the best marketing channel you’ve never heard of. Google Discover is a curated feed from Google; it appears on the Google homepage on mobile and, based on a user’s online activity, it will deliver personalized content to that user–including Web Stories. Users can also customize the types of content they see in their Google Discover feed by following topics of interest. With Google Discover, DMO Stories see high click-through-rates because they’re being delivered to users who are more likely to want to engage with that content.
Google’s Investment in Web Stories
Google’s investment in this new marketing channel is a sizable one, and all indicators suggest that it’s something they’re investing in for the long term.
For one thing, Stories are a visual content format that’s proven to have staying power (despite the fact that, ironically, they are ephemeral in nature on some of those other platforms). It’s a format that more and more people are accustomed to, and that they enjoy using and watching, and it’s not going away anytime soon.
Google’s investment in Web Stories isn’t slowing down, either. In addition to appearing in Google search results, Google is also continuing to enable the “visual stories” section on the first page of search results for more and more destinations and attractions. By creating Stories that show up in the section, DMOs can control their own narratives and can ensure that their own content takes center stage.
A simple mobile search on Google for an attraction like the “Capilano Suspension Bridge” in British Columbia, or a general search term like “Canada” or “California holidays” will yield Web Stories that have been created by DMOs.
How DMOs Can Create Google Web Stories
For DMOs, creating Web Stories is made easy by using a solution like Localhood.
DMOs can use Localhood to create Web Stories (or Localhood Stories), using the purpose-built Story Creator on either desktop or mobile. It allows DMOs to quickly edit, crop, and trim videos without needing complicated software. Better yet, they can also convert older blog content and leverage it into engaging, mobile-friendly Stories. Localhood also comes with an extensive knowledge base of articles and videos to help DMOs get started in creating their own content. Simply put, Localhood was designed to be simple and intuitive, making it easy for DMOs to create beautiful and captivating Stories that promote their destinations.
DMOs that want to get the most from the content created by influencers can also convert that influencer content into Stories using Localhood, thereby making these Stories discoverable on the Web and making sure they can be seen for more than 24 hours. Localhood is currently building its own network of creators that DMOs can eventually tap into for Story content.
Another advantage of using Localhood is the ability to track the metrics of these Stories via Google Search and Google Discover, as well engagement data on a DMO’s website if the Stories are embedded in a Gallery or as a single embed. It’s invaluable information that can help DMOs track trends in travel content and to gauge the reach of their content, as well as track traveler behavior.
Since Localhood was launched in 2019, DMO-created Localhood Stories have reached nearly 15 million monthly impressions (the number of times a user sees a link to a Story in search results). In September 2021, the number of monthly impressions for these Stories was approximately 3 million. In less than six months, impressions have increased by more than four times. Since September, the number of daily impressions for DMO-created Stories has been on a steady upward trend–further proof of Google’s investment in visual Stories, especially for destinations.
DMOs can purchase Localhood at either the state level or at the city level, and share it with their respective partners.
DMOs that have used Localhood to create Stories are already seeing impressive results.
North Lake Tahoe used Localhood to create a recent Story about tips for winter transit, which was also added to a related blog post, received more than 200,000 impressions on Google Discover; purely organic results with no paid media behind them. The Story summarized the related blog post perfectly in an engaging, mobile-friendly format, and it also links out to multiple pages on North Lake Tahoe’s website where travelers can get even more information.
Using Localhood, Louisiana Travel created a Story on its state museums which received more than 3.5 million organic impressions on Google Discover over the past three months and generated more than 80,000 clicks. Additionally, Louisiana Travel put together a culture-focused Story Gallery that features multiple Stories that have been created by their DMO partners.
Visit California recently created a Story using Localhood that showcased things to do in Yosemite National Park and it received more than 1 million organic impressions on Google Search. Additionally, Visit California has seen success in having a dedicated Story Gallery all about national parks on its website. Stories about national parks created by their partners are automatically pulled in by Localhood to create this gallery, making it easy and simple for Visit California to have this engaging and dynamic piece of content on their own site.
The Future of Stories in Destination Marketing
It’s pretty clear that visually driven pieces of content, especially Stories, are becoming more important content marketing pieces for DMOs everywhere, and that’s only going to continue. The levels of engagement and impressions are already high, and it seems likely they’ll only grow from here.
What is also clear is that anything that can help DMOs leverage this important marketing channel, like Localhood, is worth investing in. It helps save time and produces efficiencies in creating dynamic and engaging content that can be shared on multiple platforms.