marketing

7 Link Building Tips For Restaurants

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January 14  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

I recently spent some time in Seattle working for a well known restaurant down there. I was invited to work on site to not only get a feel for their business in person, but help generate some cool content to use as linkbait. The overall experience was rewarding and allowed me to build links for a niche I never really have before. The amount of unique link building options for a restaurant was an eye opener, and hopefully these tips get your place off and running.

The local search market is getting more crowded every week, and ranking well involves many factors. If you’re in a large city like Seattle, things can be even more difficult. The best way to attract someone to your restaurant is easily your food, right? With that being said, food content is king! The first step I took with this business was bringing in a local photographer to shoot all of their dishes for not only their website, but for use in our social media campaigns. Their website only had a few pictures in all, and half were just interior shots of the restaurant….this wouldn’t do! So before you set out to score some links, make sure you have juicy shots of that beautiful food ready for use in your link building efforts.

Tip 1) Group Deal Sites

With the exploding popularity of group deal websites like Groupon, Living Social and others, you should not ignore these any longer. The first obvious benefit is the opportunity to expand your brand throughout your community, and secondly lies the gold mine of quality link building opportunities. Most of these sites offer great links within your businesses profile which only goes to add to the diversity of your link profile…something were a huge advocate of!

Tip 2) Zagat Rated

Restaurants love to hear feedback, and having a great Zagat rating is a great honor for any kitchen. Being listed on Zagat’s website also comes with a link among other things, but for this article we’ll just stick to that. You can even get a sticker to remind customer’s that they can also take part and rate your restaurant online. Don’t be afraid to embrace the user review because you’re going to get one whether you like it or not.

Tip 3) Local Food Bloggers

Almost every town in North America and Europe has a food critic or blogger, and they’re prime targets for scoring a link as well as extra exposure. We invited one prominent local foodie come out for a lovely evening with her husband which eventually ended up on her food blog with some nice brand links. The restaurant also noticed social mentions due to her Tweeting about it, logging into the restaurant via Foursquare and traffic from her Facebook Page. This also resulted in our client restaurant in getting nearly 50 new Facebook Page fans of their own which will result in a decent amount of revenue in the future.


Tip 4) Urbanspoon.com

This is perhaps one of the best know restaurant review sites out there for every time of local eatery…no matter if you’re McDonalds, some food stand on 5th street or the best known luxury spot in town. This site ranks very well for keywords you’re going to want to rank for, plus you get a nice link out of it. You can also take advantage of linking out to other reviews of your place which gives more link juice to those reviews. All in all, good stuff!

Tip 5) Local Business & Restaurant Directories

Every city has a good number of local business directories, all in which will have a restaurant/food section. While directory links are not the hottest these days, it doesn’t hurt at all to be listed here. You may not get a huge amount of link juice, but you will also benefit from the local search traffic they get. The same goes for restaurant directories, not the hottest but there is a decent amount of them out there. Just fire up Google (or your favorite search engine), and try a search for restaurant directory, or even better yet, try and break it down locally. It doesn’t take up much of your time, some will have a small fee but at least you’re continuing on building a more diverse link portfolio.

Tip 6) Foursquare

Foursquare is another great way to socially get active within your community, it’s also another great place to snag a link. Venues do get a link here, and the more active your page is the better off you’re going to be. If you’re already not on there, dive in and setup some wicked deals for the local mayor. Our restaurant offered up to $30 worth of free drinks to its mayor and it’s generating a lot of buzz after only two weeks of going live. You can also jump on board with Gowalla, Yelp Check-ins and even Facebook’s if you’re feeling frisky.


Tip 7) Competitor Backlink Analysis

This was mega handy when we were link building for our client restaurant. We made a list of 30 of the top restaurants in Seattle and went ahead and dug out all their backlinks. We used OpenSiteExplorer as well as Link Diagnosis to quickly make the rounds, and what we came up with made our job that much easier. We found over 100 quality linking opportunities by doing this and managed to score dozens of links from them within the first 72 hours of working that week. If you’re in a large city you’ll find a lot of hidden resources by doing this so don’t overlook it, even if you’re not a SEO consultant.

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Real Estate Social Media, Real Time and Location Based Marketing Tactics

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November 23  |  Local Business Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

I imagine the last thing real estate agents want to hear is that there are more marketing strategies to implement this year. I know how much time I put into my online and offline marketing efforts, so I feel for other agents out there trying to keep up. I’ll do my best to not overwhelm you folks, but instead help build a solid foundation towards your social media strategies.

It’s no secret by now that real time search and marketing are going to be very important factors in the coming year and beyond, so let’s see what’s going to be worth our time and effort. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time marketing into something that brings in little to no ROI. On the other hand, you don’t want to miss out or be too late or your competitors will snap that opportunity up…and the business that goes with it.

All these tactics go hand in hand with obtaining high quality links that are related to your business. This is a great way to diversify your link portfolio in a natural, white hat strategy that will make it hard for your competitors to copy. Not only that, but you will be building a platform to launch viral content to readers that are location based and already following your business. I cannot think of a better method of marketing to have in this day and age, so hopefully this paper helps you bring in more sales!


Twitter Came and Conquered:

I imagine the last thing real estate agents want to hear is that there are more marketing strategies to implement this year. I know how much time I put into my online and offline marketing efforts, so I feel for other agents out there trying to keep up. I’ll do my best not to overwhelm you folks, but instead help build a solid foundation towards your social media strategies.

It’s no secret by now that real time search and marketing are going to be very important factors in the coming year and beyond, so let’s see what’s going to be worth our time and effort. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time marketing into something that brings in little to no ROI. On the other hand, you don’t want to miss out or be too late or your competitors will snap that opportunity up…and the business that goes with it.

All these tactics go hand in hand with obtaining high quality links that are related to your business. This is a great way to diversify your link portfolio in a natural, white hat strategy that will make it hard for your competitors to copy. Not only that, but you will be building a platform to launch viral content to readers that are geographically targeted and already following your business. I cannot think of a better method of marketing to have in this day and age, so hopefully this paper helps you bring in more sales!

Real Time Marketing Strategies:

The age of real time is upon us, and it has been for a couple years now. Twitter was the first break-through; a tool which most thought would die out as a fad. While it is of course still a web application that may die out in the long run, it is something that has changed the way we search. You still may be thinking about skipping to the next section, but let me go over a few things that might change your mind.

While a lot of folks will never jump on the Twitter bandwagon, real estate agents shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it. There is a young generation out there that has obviously adopted this into their everyday lives, so the young home-buyer demographic is heavily represented there. This is why Twitter and the future of real time marketing shouldn’t be ignored. The chance to interact in real time with local people is very easy with Twitter, and building relationships can be done by the thousands. I like to think of Twitter and Facebook Fan Pages as the new frontier of newsletters.

I can tell you now that the twenty to thirty something’s are not signing up for newsletters, and if they have, it was most likely by mistake. Don’t worry though, because it really has never been easier to build up a local, targeted following that will bring in leads. I won’t get into it here, so wait for part four to get all the nitty gritty details.


How Google is Incorporating Real Time Search:

By now I’m sure you’ve either read or seen Twitter results showing up in Google. This is a very interesting feature. Sadly, however, it has been quite selective on which search terms it’s showing up for. I highly suggest you start Googling around for keywords within your target business area and from there make a list of them that show results. I cannot say much for the other search engines in regards to real time search, but always keep your ear to the ground, and never stop searching.

I certainly found myself using Twitter’s search engine quite a bit after I discovered it, and I’m sure Google took notice to this trend. The big G quickly rolled out Google Buzz which, for the most part, has not really caught on. I wouldn’t shrug it off completely though because if Twitter manages to annoy Google, you could very well see only Google Buzz showing up for those real time results.

But what about my Buzz network?

Good question! If you rely on Google for a huge chunk of your referrals, you may want to keep an eye on the new social platform they’ve been quietly rolling out. While it looks like it’s mainly their answer to Twitter, it differs quite a bit due to it being tied into the entire Google network. I’m sure you’ve noticed how a lot of social networks and web apps allow you to log in with Twitter only. This, I imagine, worries the big G a bit as they see how traditional user accounts are dying a slow death.

The most important factor to watch out for is how Google is rolling out news and updates from your social circle. You can see by the picture below how I can see myself and friends when I do a Google search for Hawaii Real Estate. While not everyone sees this, it is still another way to get you within the top 10 SERPs.

Now ask yourself this: How many people and potential clients are using Gmail? The answer is too large to even guess! Regardless, there is huge potential for social networking within the Google network. The more friends you have in your social circle, the more often your Buzz will show up within the Google results. It’s still quite early to say if this is going to be worth the time and effort, but I like to remember the old saying, “It is better to be safe than sorry”.

There have been a lot of side projects the Google Labs has come out with, and many of them have been flops. The social media game is moving at an incredible pace, so it is essential that you test new avenues of marketing before it’s too late. I highly recommend you start seeding your content through your Buzz network, as well make use of the free tools out there.


Up And Coming Real Time Search Engines:

I have noticed a few interesting attempts at a real time search engine, so I wanted to go over those in case you wanted to have a look. I have not had the time to do any marketing on these, nor have I really thought about it. For the most part, the Twitter search engine is good enough for me to find real time results for just about anything. For the sake of this article, as well as some free promotion for the creators of these, we might as well cover the good ones.

DuckDuckGo.com

This was first noticed by me for their advertising on Reddit. I gave Duck Duck Go an hour of playing around and really liked the format. They are not at all heavy on the ads, and specifically they do not have ads above the search results like the other guys. You’d think that a new search engine like this wouldn’t have much traffic, but a quick glance at their Alexa Ranking(http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/duckduckgo.com) shows some serious growth is underway.

Search.Twitter.com:

I almost don’t need to bring this up, but for the sake of the masses I might as well remind everyone to keep an eye on this source. Obviously this is the most active real time search, and unlike other real time search engines, you can follow the target Twitter user right away. You’re almost always going to find the most active real time search results here and this can be a powerful tool for finding clients.

Collecta.com:

This is a real time search engine that has been growing for a year now and is well worth the bookmark. With this real time search engine you can monitor a whole host of social platforms for the latest, up to the minute results. I find myself using this search a lot when writing blog posts on current events, especially when I need the content from all over for my post.


Don’t Forget About Location Based Marketing:

With all this other marketing madness going on already within social media and real time, why not throw in location based into the mix? Whether you like it or not, this is a trend that is already hot but not even close to peaking. All the big players are currently fighting for dominance, and it looks as if Foursquare has done quite the job thus far.

Throw in Gowalla, Google Places, Facebook’s upcoming location based tool and a whole whack of niche location based services and you’ve got yourself a headache. This is another area of social marketing you’ll need to keep a keen eye on. The big players are in for a battle, and you’ll want to of course only focus your business energy on the ones that will bring in the best ROI.

Foursquare, I can safely say, is ready for your marketing efforts. This could not be truer within the real estate industry. The business options readily available for free within this location based app are plentiful and robust. If you have a programmer in your Rolodex, I highly suggest integrating all your open house check-ins through a custom made app on your agent website. Imagine updating your clients in real time via Foursquare that your open house is well…open for business. This also gets shot off directly to your Facebook page as well as Twitter. These tools were meant for each other!

Gowalla is the only other large contender at the moment although their growth has been stagnant to say the least. This platform was rolled out by one of the founders of Digg, so I imagine the potential for growth is still there. I personally don’t see a need for it, and its only better factor is the way the deals are laid out. All Foursquare would need to do is make some tweaks and they’ll just keep on blasting by this social application.

As for Facebook, Google and the smaller niche location based apps, those I’ll leave up to you to keep an eye on. The only advice I could give you now is to watch how Google and Bing roll out location based results into their universal listings. I imagine by the year’s end, we’ll see something along these lines being implemented in Google. This will either be a blessing or a curse for some webmasters.


Combining Real Time and Social Media Marketing Tactics

I always keep on point about what new marketing strategies could take me outside the normal routine. While you should always be making use of the largest social applications out there, you should also be testing the next “it” thing. So how does an agent keep up with all this? I can only offer this advice: Write your goals down somewhere and then do your best to work towards them. Finding those few hidden hours a week can really make a difference for your online presence and organization is the only way to find them.

I also like to keep the mindset of not keeping all my eggs in one basket. There is a ton of social media traffic to pick up, so make use of a few of my tips to spot a winner. I always do one of two things: first, you can browse 2.0 news sites and directories like Feedmyapp.com for new social apps. I personally would much rather see which sites Google is ranking well, as well perhaps an Alexa Rank check for good measure.

I’m sure a lot of you remember how well Squidoo used to rank for a good long while. Google was giving quite a lot of importance to a well done Lens. You may also remember that it started to slip once affiliate marketing and other businesses pretty much took it over. This is another important aspect of utilizing social media for leads. This form of marketing also still relies on the search engines, and when they don’t like the host site, there is a very good chance your leads might come to an end.

The other half of all this doesn’t rely on Google, Bing or any other search giant. There are plenty of users just on Youtube and Facebook to keep your business running strong. What I really like about that is you’re able to collect new and future clients and keep them in a list. You’ve heard it before, and that is social network connections are the lifeblood of the whole plan. So let’s move on from my ramblings and get into a few key social marketing areas that I’ve found have been worth the time and effort lately.

Youtube.com

While Youtube is obviously no new name on the block, it is still really neglected by a lot of agents. Youtube is used by just about every web user on the planet, and those people are potential clients. Youtube is great because there is enough video traffic to be wrangled up from just within the site. Since it is Google owned, you also can make your property videos rank within the SERPs.

The key here of course is quality content. I know that people’s attention spans are lower and lower these days, so you need to do something to stick out from the rest. While I’m the first to admit I don’t like going on video all that often, I do find property picture slideshows were a great way to start out video marketing. I highly recommend Animoto.com for those of you without video editing skills like myself.

I also don’t see very many people making the proper connections within Youtube. If you play around with it enough, you can easily find and connect with people from all over your town. I obviously cannot guarantee anything, but you’ll never know if you don’t try. Most often you’ll find that a connection here will also lead to a Twitter or Facebook Page follow.

Last but not least. Think about all the social news, mash up and web applications out there that embed Youtube videos. I didn’t realize this aspect of video marketing until it started happening to my videos. Sites like Squidoo and Hubpages started automatically picking up my Hawaii videos on numerous lens’. There are obviously more sites out there like this, and more to come, so who knows what links your videos might bring in.

Scribd.com

Scribd was a website I didn’t notice until Google started ranking their content quite high for a lot of lovely long tail keywords. This is exactly the type of situation I mentioned earlier, and with the little amount of time it takes to utilize it, well, it’s a no brainer.
Scribd allows for easy document sharing via its website, as well as a handy embed feature for your content. I recommend putting up unique content of course, and I have a few real estate statistic reports up there which have gotten a fairly substantial amount of views. I did do a search to see if PDF content would count as duplicate, but most of my findings came up negative. Google must have something in their algorithm to detect it, but to be safe I recommend the proper way with unique content.

The type of content you’d want to put up as a real estate agent should be targeted to the consumer though. I always put a call to action at the beginning and the end of my content just to make sure. This very cool and free social network has a heavy set business crowd which can also help with your networking efforts. If you’re really interested in trying it out, I’d also set a special set of rules within Google Analytics to track the quality of the traffic coming in.

Ning.com

Ning is one of my favourite social network platforms because there is usually one good local network somewhere. It has been so good for me that I actually hold it in a close second with Twitter for finding real, local people to connect with. I usually let my business mindset at the door and come in for a good time. There is a place and a time to push sales onto people, and a local Ning network is usually not that place. I find that being myself, answering questions and being involved in the community is good enough to draw people in.

The benefits of Ning do include a search engine friendly user profile, as well as a whole host of tools including blogs, photo and video sharing. This in turn makes it quite easy to become an active and visible member of the community. Sadly this also makes it an attractive target for spammers, so if you notice a Ning network that’s quite overrun, perhaps it’s best to leave it alone.

The only other advice I can give you is that the Ning network search on their site is done in a very annoying way. I suggest just doing a custom Google search using their site command to find something local for yourself. I always make friends with the network owner and the most active users first and foremost. It doesn’t hurt to thank the administrator upon signing up for putting in the time and effort to run the site.

Podomatic.com

I’ll stop after this, but I felt that bringing up podcasting was a very important aspect of marketing online. If you’re already making Youtube videos on a regular basis, you’re basically already podcasting via video. You can take it a step further with dedicated podcasting sites like Podomatic which is an amazing as well as free tool. If you are still wondering what exactly a podcast is, just think about a series of content, audio or video, that is syndicated via RSS.

Podomatic is as easy to use as Youtube, it just takes it one step further and turns your content into a downloadable show. The site is great because it automatically creates the necessary RSS feeds, and most importantly, it creates an iTunes specific feed you can submit to their podcast directory. Being accepted there will only do good things for your business.

This media rich podcast site also is great for another form of SEO, and that is of course link acquisition. Podomatic allows a link to your website as well as your various social media accounts you may have like Twitter or Youtube. To top it all off, you can also provide quality content in text form (links included) with each post. This is something I recommend because having a unique, quality write up for each episode will dramatically increase your indexing within the search engines.

Location Location Location!

I definitely wanted to squeeze some location based marketing tips and tricks within this article. I’ve found myself really enjoying Foursquare, and I’ve dabbled with the alternatives enough to write on them. I’m really excited to see where location based applications take us, especially when it comes to marketing. Let’s take a quick look at the few big players and some free tools out there to help with all this madness.

Foursquare:

For the readers of Linkbuildr, I am going to assume you’ve all at least heard about it, or read enough. This was one of the first location based apps to make it big and because it was done properly, it has continued to dominate. Foursquare has an amazing suite of free tools for business owners, and real estate agents should jump right in. If you’re feeling really frisky, then take a look at the open API which opens up a whole can of possibilities including;

- Custom open house apps for your listings
- Integration into your custom cms
- Making server side listing maps mashed with Google Maps API

Gowalla:
The second location based network on our list doesn’t vary much from Foursquare except for a few different aspects. For one, it’s user base isn’t even close to the size of Foursquare’s. Secondly, the features for businesses are not as robust as Foursquare’s. While this location based app is no slouch, I do recommend getting the best possible, and SEO friendly username relating to your business.
The business features are not quite there yet but the app is enough to warrant a sign up. I realize that agents cannot really offer location deals, although with Gowalla you don’t have to be a “mayor” to get perks. This feature alone is enough to make it keep on growing, although Foursquare could adapt this at anytime and crush them.

Facebook Check In:
There isn’t too much publicly known about Facebook’s attempt at getting in on the location based business(http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/09/facebook-places-check-in/). Since the playing field has plenty of room for competitors for the aforementioned apps, Facebook might as well take a huge chunk of it. It goes hand in hand with Facebook in my opinion, and I can see them getting a very large market share without much effort.

Google Places:

Google has caught on to the location based craze late as usual. They’ve recently dropped Google Wave which was supposed to revolutionize social communication…it didn’t. Do we need yet another location based application? Most likely not! With all that money I would have just made a bid for Gowalla or Foursquare and called it a day.

For now I’d just keep Google Places in your notes and mind and keep an eye on its progress. I don’t expect much, but they do have the search power to make a serious dent in the competition. You can read about the call for developers to bring it to life from the Google Blog. (http://googlegeodevelopers.blogspot.com/2010/07/checking-in-with-places-api.html)


Networking is King:

I wanted to briefly go over the importance of actually networking on social networks, as well as the location based apps. I really want to stress the importance of building up a list of followers that are actually interested in your business, and that’s what makes this so powerful. The whole concept is basically a newsletter gone web 2.0 because email is a dying tool. I might receive some flak for that comment, but it is true that its applications are becoming fewer and fewer, just as with any other technology.

What’s so amazing about this form of networking is the that fact you can so easily target local people. With a newsletter you’d have to sit and wait, or at the worst, nag people to sign up for your distributed information. With social networks and location based applications you can go out and connect with people at will. Not only that, but the chances that you will get followed back are quite good.

So how do you go about this? Well, I’ll explain a few different methods for the various social applications, and from there you’ll be able to figure out the rest. I would, of course, encourage your comments below with anymore tools that you folks think are crucial to this form of marketing success.

Using API’s:

If you have a programmer at your disposal, or the funds to hire one for a bit then I suggest looking at the multitude of API’s out there. I don’t want to give away too many good ideas, but if you play around with these sites enough you’ll figure out a use. For example, you could use the Foursquare API to hook into a widget on your site that alerts people when you’ve checked into an open house of yours. This of course could automatically update that status directly to your Facebook and Twitter profiles, and then to your followers.


Handy Apps for Location Based Marketing:

Check.in:

This is one handy little application that lets location based addicts cover all their favorite apps in one go. If you’re getting tired of handling Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and others all in one go then I highly recommend Check.in. It’s really easy to use(http://vimeo.com/11852264) and this app is currently supported on the iPhone, iPad and Android. I’m sorry to say they don’t have a Blackberry hack yet, but we all know those phones are not the future for consumers.

GeoToko.com:

Let the location based marketing app war begin! Geotoko is an application just like Check.in with a few more features. I really like the fact that it handles the Yelp check-in service, and throws in Twitter management as well, just in case. This app is geared towards any size business but I really see big brands and marketing agencies loving it.

Final Thoughts & Links:

 

I hope you managed to get through all my rambling with ease, and I hope you learned something! The marketing tools and platforms coming out are definitely enough to make ones head spin, so make sure you nail down the ones that bring you the best ROI. While location based and real time marketing is in its infancy, and I have no clue as to where we’re headed next. Just make sure you spend enough time on whichever platform you choose to utilize. This will make sure you’ve got enough traffic and data to see if it’s a profitable marketing strategy. Here are a few links to further you down the rabbit hole and, of course, I encourage readers to comment on what I left out.

- http://mashable.com/2010/03/15/location-based-marketing/
- http://realtimemarketer.com/real-time-web-marketing-strategies-you-should-be-using/
- http://my.bkv.com/blog/comments/43-tips-on-how-to-use-foursquare-for-your-business/
- http://moconews.net/article/419-zillow-says-house-hunting-is-the-ultimate-location-based-service/
- http://mobile.venturebeat.com/2010/08/12/location-based-check-in-data-on-its-way-to-becoming-a-commodity/
- http://stuff.techwhack.com/9391-neer
- http://propertyadguru.com/2010/07/location-based-marketing-from-homefinder-com/


About The Guest Author:

I met Tony Kawaguchi on the Real Estate Webmaster Forum and have had the pleasure of becoming good friends over many long chats on Skype and REW. He is a Honolulu Based Real Estate Agent who could have been an Internet Marketer if he had the time. He’s done an impeccable job marketing his brand throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and is definitely someone you should get to know. I’d like to thank him for taking the time to put this all down for the blog here and remind everyone that we’d be more than happy to have you guest blog here on Linkbuildr.

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Atomic Tom Performs With iPhones On The NYC Subway

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October 26  |  Brand Building  |   Ryan Clark

The phone wars are taking it to the streets these days and while this isn’t the first impromptu subway concert, nor will it be the last, its still an amazing marketing ploy. I’m a huge fan of this style of advertising mainly because there is a lot of focus on the art, but still trying to sell you something in the end. We will no doubt see a lot more of this across other cities in North America, but NYC is obviously the best place to try this out. Atomic Tom apparently had their gear stolen so rocked out on their iPhones instead. Both parties involved in this should stand to make a good ROI on this video just from Youtube alone. The hype has also stirred up a lot of Twitter chatter, and tons of links from blogs within the entertainment and tech industries. Moral of the story? Do something different!

 

 

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Resource Furniture Markets Itself

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June 8  |  Brand Building  |   Ryan Clark

I can honestly say I`ve never been huge into furniture, not until recently anyway. I recently saw the video posted below, I was blown away…by furniture! Resource Furniture makes some of the neatest, most customizable furniture for the modern era….that I`m aware of anyway. Here in Vancouver we`re all pretty much in condos, so this style of furniture really caught my eye. After realizing I just spent 30 minutes studying a product because of that video, I thought it might make an interesting post.

The company has been around since 2000, but there web presence has only recently started building traction. When you have a product that produces content like that, then you`ve got a winner. It`s actually rare I get to work with a site where the product is unique enough to do the link building(gee I wonder why :). This company only needs to create some ripples before they turn into waves. I would try and remind yourself to check back in on this company in 6 months time to see just what leveraging social media has done for their link profile.

This video below came out recently and since then they have seen some great growth. If you`ve got a cool product coming out keep this in mind, learn how it`s done properly and get to it. Once you get that ball rolling, you`ll only have to focus on building your business, and not spending time marketing your brains out.

 

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Foursquare for Business Marketing & Local Search Domination

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May 18  |  Local Business Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

Foursquare is going to be the biggest force in the top 10 for businesses within the next year, so get ready for new marketing opportunities. Businesses are already scrambling to work with the Foursquare API, and I’m already seeing local business search domination in play. I wanted to showcase some ways you’ll be able to socially do business, and this is only with Foursquare. Imagine the reach you’ll get by dominating Gowalla as well, but that’s another post coming up within the next week. Foursquare is going to need to attract a lot of developers fast because Facebook is coming out with a location based check-in service, naturally, so time will tell who will dominate.

You can by all means add me as a friend on Foursquare as I`m quite active. I really love promoting my favorite local spots, and if user does it a bit it will all work out for the good. I don`t have any evil marketing intentions for Foursquare, so you`ll just see what I get up to on a daily basis. For the most part, prepare to be bored!

Foursquare has quickly been eating up the local search market, I`m sure you`ve all noticed. There`s no harm in getting your business active, think about this. How easily can you rank your boutique hotel venue listing, or local restaurant or real estate listings on Foursquare?

Foursquare gives you the ability to further brand yourself by linking up with Twitter and Facebook. While you don`t get a link to your homepage (yet), you do get followed links to your Facebook and Twitter page. That`s a plus in my books because that makes those profiles only stronger.

The Bad:

Some of the on-page optimization baffles me with foursquare, especially the URL and title formatting. I`m still not seeing Foursquare showing up very high in Google yet for local venues, perhaps this is why. They certainly have the link authority to rank for just about anything these days. I imagine this will eventually be changed to the slightly more SEO friendly setup, but for now this is what you get;

The Opus Hotel here in Vancouver is the coolest place I`ve had the pleasure of staying, and I never would have gone until I saw them socially online. The Opus Hotel does a damn fine job of not only SEO locally, but how they`ve branded themselves on Twitter, Facebook and of course Foursquare. This is a fine example of how you should be tackling online marketing from all angles. Their business listing on Foursquare is quite active and will most likely never be deindexed, and potentially will rank for some very competitive keywords in the near future.

The Good:

The promotion opportunities here are quite endless. The more check-ins your venue has, the more people will see your business. I`d highly recommend targeting active users within your city to get them involved with your Foursquare account. That`s the beauty of social networking!

Coupon marketing is currently offered for free through your Foursquare venue page. This obviously encourages users to come to your location, and hopefully the rise in business follows. I can tell you this, I routinely try and become mayor at my favorite restaurants just for the coupons and discounts. A local Vancouver restaurant chain called Earls has recently stepped up their Foursquare promotion as well as just Facebook and Twitter. You`d be amazed at what just these three sites can do for your local business. You can even see that I`m mayor of the Kingsway Earls near my condo….I even mustered up the strength to write a tip.

My favorite aspect of the features for businesses right now are the tools to create specials for users. These usually result in free drinks for birthdays, if the venue mayor checks in and really a whole bunch of ideas just waiting to be tried out. I’ve just recently learned that you can get Foursquare venue stickers for businesses to let customers know you’re a Foursquare friendly establishment. If you’re reading this now and own a local business, well then I hope you’re already ordering these as soon as you’re done RT’ing and stumbling this post.

Now I’m sure you’re sweating a little from the amount of new work I just created in your life, but don’t worry. Eventually the marketing will go viral within your local market, and you can as of right now track all sorts of amazing analytics for free. In fact, the developer team has stated they’re just going to make the best analytic software possible for free. I imagine at one point you’ll see some sort advanced, fee based business opportunities but that’s expected.

Here’s currently a chart they provide on their website describing the business analytic features;

What About The API?

Foursquare provides API access and it has already spawned some really interesting apps for both the user and businesses. So you can either code up something 3rd party to interact directly with your business and the Foursquare interface, or take advantage of other available apps. Within a year from now, there will be so many apps it will overload any businesses brand, no matter how large you are.

This also brings up another interesting question from the angle of a marketer. Which of my current social networks that I’m on are going to integrate with Foursquare? How many new niche business directories are we going to see implement Foursquare data? Who knows at this point, but this is something you’re going to want to keep in the back of your mind

Interesting Foursquare Apps:

Foursquare has recently redesigned their application directory so it’s easy to find all sorts of readily available tools to use. I’ve been digging around all evening, taking a look at what I thought would make for a great example of what’s possible with Foursquare applications. My favorite thing is dining out, I’m a little bit of a food nut, so let’s take a look at Snacksquare.

Local restaurants who take advantage of local coupon and discount sites like this will surely make a name for themselves. Snacksquare lets you find all the latest and greatest food and snack deals that are closest to you, brilliant! This app not only provides a method of free marketing for businesses, it provides a useful money saving device right at the tip of the consumers fingers.

4Squareoffers.com:

4squareoffers.com does pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It works in a similar fashion to Snacksquare except you can find deals on any type of product, not just food. It works with a simple to use Google Maps feature and you’ll have no problem finding local deals. Businesses will automatically get their data pulled as long as you’re marketing properly on Foursquare.

Love A Local Business:

The fine folks at Intuit coded up this neat little Foursquare and Facebook powered application for business all over the world. Basically it lets users vote and spread social love which in return should act exactly as an online, real time word of mouth marketing platform. I tried using the site a little more but sadly on the latest Firefox and Windows it would always hang my browser. Let me know if anyone else experiences this problem on a different platform as I don’t put much faith into Microsoft’s programming.

Wrapping Things Up:

I could go on and on about the 500+ other apps already out there right now, but I’ll spare you and I any more reading or writing here. The Foursquare train isn’t slowing down any time soon and has already dipped into Alexa’s top 1000 websites. I hope all of you learned something from this and take it and apply it to your business. If you’re looking for help in your local search marketing you can of course get in touch with me. We can kick start you local search marketing efforts with a bang.

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Social Whale App

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May 18  |  Twitter Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

I just watched this video presentation about Social Whale for your mobile phone. This app was started in 2009 by a few people in Greece, and has been in alpha testing stages to this day it seems. Twitter has created so many unique ways of communicating that the people at Social Whale decided to put something together. Watch this video to see what I mean.

Our idea is simple at its base. We create a clone of twitter’s API and then extend it, so that it has more features. This way twitter can continue being as simple as it is now, but advanced users can use our implementation in order to have the features we offer. Developers can easily update their applications to work with our extended API using the same requests in our domain (instead of twitter’s) and get the same data, enriched with the extra information that we provide. This way we actually have created an extension of twitter itself.

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New York Times Online Paid Experiment: Let’s Watch

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May 14  |  News  |   Ryan Clark

So the New York Times has announced that it will be charging for content on their website, a last ditch effort to make some money perhaps. The NYT does do pretty much all of its reporting, so you can see why they might be wanting to try this effort out. I for one, think it`s going to flop like just about every other attempt like this attempted. What is different however, is that the NYTimes.com website been seeing a lot of growth in the past 5 months, and hopefully this doesn`t hurt that effort. With a lot more popular content going away from the Google Index, I wonder if they`ll still manage to keep organic traffic up.

I think this is a great opportunity from a marketing and SEO perspective because we can monitor any changes, without footing the bill of course. I`m also wondering about how much organic and social media traffic they`ll lose to those big stories. I`ve seen other paid newspapers have there paid content landing pages rank well in Google, and that pissed me off quite a bit, so  hopefully we don`t see that here.

What are your thoughts?

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Conan + Twitter Office = Linkbait Wet Dream

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April 23  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

picture courtesy(Mashable)

I just read about how Conan O Brian dropped in on the Twitter HQ’s in San Francisco earlier this morning, and it got me thinking. Can you imagine if you had access to this kind of viral marketing? I’m going to be watching closely what impact this has on not only Mashable, but Twitter link wise. I’m really interested to see how many links this will net them in a 24-48 hour period, what do you folks think? I would be a happy man to not have to worry about link building with this kind of networking going on, so is this making any of you think?

I imagine if you’re in the local search market, even a little interview with a local celebrity would go a long way in your linking efforts. This is the type of marketing I like to see happen for a few reasons. This isn’t costing them any money, your users do the link building for you and you’ll even enjoy some branding in the process. Last but not least, you’re also doing something your competitors most likely cannot copy. That marketing, and those links will be a wicked asset to your online ranking efforts and keep the competitor’s in your dust.

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