Inbound Marketing

Do EMD’s Still Work?

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February 11  |  Inbound Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

A hot topic in the past year has been whether or not EMD’s still work and if you should bother with them. The answer is highly debated yet I’ve never seen someone bring up actual search results to give examples. There are a few different reasons why you’d want an EMD, but if you’re planning on building a real brand then don’t put all your eggs in this basket.

The big reason they’re so sought after are due to the affiliate marketing perks and the ability to spam the living shit out of that anchor text/keyword. You truly are allowed to get away with quite a bit of junk link building when you’re rocking an EMD. I wouldn’t bet on this as a solid long term strategy, but there is definitely some easy money to be made with the right domain.

I was meeting with a new hotel client today based out of Thailand and was quite shocked at the results for “Thailand Hotels”;


 
This is a very competitive market and I’d expect that most emd’s in the .com/net/org varieties is going to rank quite easily. A quick look at the backlink profile shows that the first ranking site is there will very little effort. His own network of other Thailand travel blogs was enough to land this site a no1 ranking spot on Google. The site is also pretty much entirely made up with duplicate content so you’d think ranking for a keyword like that wouldn’t be so easy?

So let’s take a look at a few more queries to get an idea of what’s going on in a rang of niches.


Car Insurance Quote


 

 

Payday Loan



Miami Real Estate


 


Student Credit Cards


 


RC Toys


 

 

You can search all day and see strong signs up EMD’s working just great. If you look at the ones ranking in tough verticals you’ll notice they’re not thin. If you build up a solid website with great content around an EMD then it looks like you’re in for some #winning for a long time to come. As always, I’ll ask for you folks to chime in and let me know what you’re feeling and seeing around in the search results these days.

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Google+ Brand Pages Ranking In Google

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December 21  |  Inbound Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

Google+ brand pages are now showing up ranking just below the main websites for some brands but not all yet. I’m obviously not the first to realize this but I want to prepare your minds for when their posts are going to outrank most other sources on the web. Huge brands with insane amounts of followers are going to have a major advantage dominating the SERPs. I know a lot if you folks think the “social network” isn’t going any where but I urge you to push for those followers even harder now.

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InfoBarrel Steps Up Local Content Marketing With Easy Google Maps

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December 6  |  Inbound Marketing  |   Simon

Our buddies over at InfoBarrel have introduced a new element for their hosted content we’d like to share with you. This one improves their content’s local effectiveness with an easy way to throw in Google Maps. If haven’t used InfoBarrel or stumbled across some of their content on Google, let me fill you in. They’re a popular content hub built on submitted content that’s all human reviewed to keep the quality high. Unlike many automated content hubs that were full of overtly promotional and low quality content that keep taking hits from Panda Updates, InfoBarrel continues to rank high.

With 20% of searches being local, making a quick and easy Google Maps function is a big benefit for InfoBarrel users. Also, 74% of local searches using portals such as Google, they make a solid choice for hosing your content. And if you’re not looking to expand your link profile, don’t forget Infobarrel’s rev share program, so any content you post stands to make extra money through Adsense, Chitika and Amazon.With the success of content marketing depending completely on its value to the reader, InfoBarrel ensures they only host useful or interesting content. This makes it a high-ranking site to share unique content to an active audience, score a relevant backlink and build up your following and a author profile.

We all know we’d rather not spend time searching for an address ourselves, so check out the short Youtube video on using the new feature. And I’ve included a recent infographic below from MDG Advertising on the state of mobile search.

 

Infographic: Local Search Evolved by MDG Advertising
Infographic by MDG Advertising
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Coffee Shop Marketing Strategies In A Social World

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May 25  |  Inbound Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

The one thing I know well besides marketing and branding online is coffee shops. I spend a great deal at Starbucks, other chains and the local independent stores and have seen it all. One of the smaller coffee shops here in Victoria asked me for some help after getting to know the owner over the course of the last six months. I decided to make a deal/bet with the owner that if I could increase sales a certain amount, I’d win free drip coffee for a year. That was a deal for drugs I was ready to commit to. There were a lot of obvious first steps to take, those I won’t go into here as it’s pointless, but rather share with you some of the more unique strategies I put in place with little effort. The results were rather fantastic!

While not many people use search engines to find a local coffee shop as they’re everywhere, so we didn’t worry about ranking for a specific term here. Instead, I took on some unique social media methods that would drive a lot of customers and hopefully turn them into returning ones. Tapping into the local community played a huge role here and it turned out to be a game changer for this local business. So let’s get into the inbound marketing strategies and even a couple link building ones. One last thing, I’m happily enjoying my free coffee as I write this post!

Attracting Links:

Like I stated, the link building aspect wasn’t really a focus here but we did nab some links that would come in handy down the road. The other part of the social media marketing also netted the company a few links, so all in all it worked out nicely nicely. In their case we just focused on links from;

- local business directories within the area only
- links from the local bakery website they got their goods from
- links from the company that supplies their beans
- links from a few coffee shop directories

So nothing hardcore, just general link building that should be applied in almost every scenario like this. This alone did manage to bump them to the first page for their local area. This was not unexpected but the links combined with a few on page SEO changes did the trick no problem. This should be noted by other coffee shop owners trying to achieve this…chances are good that there is no real competition.

Utilizing Their Local Sub Reddit:

I’m a 4 year long Reddit veteran and a huge fan of my local subreddits. We decided to just let everyone know there that they’d get free refills on their coffee and tea if they just mentioned Reddit. We also put out an open ended invitation to host any Reddit meet-up events they had as well provide discounts that night on everything in the shop. This strategy was received quite well and has been providing them with more and more return visits. We nerds love our coffee, and if you have a unique shop with quality product, then you’re going to be a hit for sure. Just make sure you don’t come off as spammy or pushy with this route, and don’t expect great results every time.

Marketing With Meetup.com:

Meetup.com provides tons of amazing networking and marketing methods, and restaurants are always benefiting huge from it. Some of the events I go to in Vancouver attract over 100 people, and the bar we go to makes some serious bank that night. Almost every event lists where the meeting will take place, and usually this leads to a link.

We got in touch with half a dozen groups and offered the place out to the group, even after hours for a few of the late night crowds. The coffee shop now hosts nearly 4 Meetup events a month and it has done wonderful things for their sales.

Daily & Group Deal Sites (Groupon Etc):

You all knew this was coming, and it’s a no-brainer. A lot of local businesses complain that the cost of running a daily/group deal is not worth it. I had to remind them here that it’s more about branding and buzz in hopes those customers will return. If you can provide them with an amazing experience, your chances are really good that you’ve nailed down a new customer. Another interesting feature of some of these deal sites is that they provide a vendor link, and those are natural quality links you’re going to want in your profile.

Foursquare Mayor Deals:

Foursquare is still blowing up all over the world and it’s a great way to attract new and old customers. Your vendor page can net a worthy link, and your customers can fight over the mayor deal you offer. This coffee shop owner had never heard of Foursquare and that’s no surprise as it’s targeted at a much younger generation.

We made sure to get the check-in sticker on the door, a mayor deal on the web and added a few tips to add more depth to his venue page. The more geo-located tips from other users the better. These will pop up on your screen if someone has checked in near your business, and this can be worth it…it’s bloody free folks!

The Result?

Obviously the coffee shop had seen an explosion in sales compared to the previous 3 months. Obviously doing something over nothing would have a positive impact, especially how easy it all was to do. I spent no more than 20 hours setting everything up and I’m now going to be enjoying a lot of free coffee.  Now I’d love to hear from other coffee shop owners who’ve either tried some of this out, or are going to now. Let us all know how it works out!

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Ace Hotels: Boutique Brand Building and Inbound Marketing Case Study

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April 27  |  Inbound Marketing  |   Simon

I spend plenty of time following fashion, travel and hospitality blogs in between the time I’m not actually travelling or shopping, this all of which falls under “reconnaissance” for related Linkbuildr clients (so I’m technically working, if anyone asks). One boutique hotel with stellar online visibility is the Ace Hotel brand, catching my eye on a number of occasions over the last year. The Ace Hotel brand has a focus on their patron’s experiences, and they bring this to them with an art-fashion prerogative, an active social life, and stylish blog to match.  Their reputation and fashion-forward thinking has spawned a range of cross-branded products, which has in turn become linkbait, generating blog content. This is on top of all the links sprouted by their varied events and parties.

Ace Hotel Cross-Branding

With any cross-branding collaboration, brand alignment and authenticity, is crucial. Thiscan’t be forced; it has to come naturally, which it does in Ace’s case.  You take a search for them on top fashion blogs and you’ll find plenty of examples of this, from exclusive Havaianas sandals being offered in their Palm Spring location’s mini-bar to Wings + Horns designed boxing-style robe, a tribute to their NYC building’s boxing history. Most are available on their online store, making great mementos for Ace patrons or just fans of Ace or the collaborating brands.  Check out the Ace blog posts of the Havainas sandals and Wings + Horn boxing robe; both have their own story of the cross-branding involved. These details and insight truly make Ace’s brand shine. Now on to how this translates to perfect linkbait and an excellent example of inbound marketing.

Ace Hotel’s Natural Linkbait

Ace Hotel naturally exudes an inbound marketing and SEO prowess that you can’t manufacture. My cross-branding pick to showcase this is Ace Hotel’s collaboration with Converse on a custom line of Chuck Taylor sneakers. The Chuck Taylor sneakers have been around since the 70s and have held their relevance by serving as a blank canvas to be styled in unlimited ways, similar to Nike’s Air Force 1. This gives each new artist-designed or cross-branded Chuck Taylor release its own character, making each sneaker a little piece of art.  This aligns perfectly with Ace Hotel’s brand, as they host countless fashion, art, music and design-related events and parties.

The first edition was released Jan. 5 with this blog post, which told the story of its unique details and purpose as staff uniform. It was then released in limited numbers to the public to follow. This spread through the fashion blogosphere, appearing on blogs such as HighSnobiety. This hits their prime target audience, people who are interesting in fashion, art and design trends. When they step out for events, parties or head out of town, they want an experience that matches their interest.

The series of posts, tweets and shares that followed grew a wealth of links and traffic. A Google search for this release from Jan. 5 until Jan. 19, found 77 links with Ace Hotel, converse and Chuck Taylor in the title, all linking back to the Ace Hotel store or blog.

A second edition was released Mar. 30, this version fitted for rainy weather, with waxed canvas and rubber navy outsoles. A nod to their rain-prone locations in Seattle and Portland, their staff was equipped with them, with a limited release to the public. A Google search for the second release (Mar. 30 until Apr. 12), yielded 98 links.

Residual Brand Equity and Link Building

Brand equity residuals come in several forms from this example.  The first is through storytelling. The staff gets a stylish pair of custom sneakers, a rare perk at any job, which they get to share with their social circle. The buyers lucky enough to grab a pair get a nice memento of Ace Hotel, along with the story to tell their friends. And I can guarantee these sneakers and their story found their way onto these groups’ social media networks within minutes.

For link building, this example served as a perfect topic for fresh fashion blog content. With the two releases garnering 175 links between them in the first two weeks, searching in just the post title alone. Not including the wealth of social mentions that accompany that many posts.

Blog as your brand anchor, with social media support.

Outside of their achievements in branding and cross-branding, their blog and strong social media presence are integral to their success. The Ace blog carries the brand, personality, and self-conscious style from their hotels across to their online presence. This completes the modern synergy needed to complete a customer’s brand experience. It features event recaps, art, interviews and branded and cross-branded products. They also have a strong following, with 8,500 Facebook fans and over 10,000 Twitter followers. These channels are used beyond just for broadcasting their blog, thanks to their busy social life.  With all the events, shows and activity in and around Ace Hotels, they never run out of interesting things to say. Like a socialite friend who acts as a hub for your social circle, Ace Hotel is this friend.

Boutique hotel brands take note

For boutique hotels, active collaborations, events and parties are essential to build a boutique brand.  This will serve as blog fuel, enabling each post to be inspired instead of mandatory. This needs to be paired with active, authentic social media management to engage your customers and showcase your brand personality. These elements complete the brand experience, which is the value that customers look for in a boutique hotel, over a faceless hotel chain. The personality of your boutique hotel has to be felt from your rooms out to your tweets. This connection is what brings customer back, who will in turn serve as ambassadors for your hotel. This is all something that Ace Hotels does naturally, making them my case study pick for organic seo and inbound marketing in the boutique hotel industry.

Make sure to follow Ace Hotel and check out their blog for more intrinsic lessons in boutique hotel branding:

Their Blog: Ace Hotel Blog
Follow on Facebook: Ace Hotel Facebook Page
Tweets By Ace: TheAceHotel@Twitter

 

 

 

 

Follow me:

S_Gerard@Twitter

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