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The Times and The Sunday Times Insider City Guides

Content and Outreach Campaign

A highly effective outreach and content campaign based on data, not hunches

The Times and The Sunday Times Insider City Guides is a News UK travel website that integrates tried-and-tested Times editorial with fresh content and aligns it with relevant travel offers. Insider City Guides is designed to take readers on a journey they can’t find anywhere else, from reading their favourite journalists to using site content to shape, plan and ultimately book their own trips. As well as providing research and consultancy on organic SEO strategy during the site’s development, Melt developed a series of creative outreach projects to build brand awareness and inbound links post-launch.

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The objectives

  • Add fresh content to archived content
  • Drive onsite engagement
  • Increase brand awareness of the Insider City Guides
  • Build SEO performance for the Sunday Times Insider City Guides

Aligning data-driven insights with existing content assets

Our brief was to drive brand awareness of the Insider City Guides site and give it an early traffic boost, primarily using content from The Times and The Sunday Times archive. With 14 cities covered by the site, we used Melt’s data-first approach to identify the best focal point for early campaign work. Keyword analysis and social listening identified significant volume around searches for Barcelona, and a high volume of conversation about tapas.

With those insights in mind, we trawled the Times and Sunday Times archives for content that made a good match, eventually selecting a piece on Barcelona’s top five tapas bars. World Tapas Day, celebrated in mid-June, offered the campaign a topical peg, giving us scope to commission outreach activity that would be mutually beneficial to client and influencers.


Our creative team then turned these insights into the final idea: a video presenting three tapas recipes inspired by bars in the Insider City Guide’s article, created by a food influencer with widespread trust and recognition among UK audiences.

Finding the right influencer

The critical first step was to find the right celebrity influencer. Donal Skehan was the perfect match, with a large and engaged following that overlaps with the Times’s target audience. In addition to working with Donal, we connected with a network of relevant influencers and websites to help us further amplify our message and boost engagement and SEO. We reached out to blogs and publications about Barcelona, blogs and publications about Spain, Spanish tourist boards, foodies in the UK, UK travel and lifestyle blogs and UK beauty and fashion blogs.

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Social success

In less than two weeks, Donal’s video gathered just under 41K views, nearly 1,700 likes and over 200 comments on YouTube as well as a very high level of interactions on Donal’s social profiles, all of which featured prominent CTAs and click through links to The Times Insider City Guide content.

On Donal’s Facebook page, the video achieved 9.7K views, 200 likes, 18 shares and 10 comments. On Instagram, an additional 12K views. The video was shared over 200 times on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

A measurable effect on organic traffic

Overall, the Insider City Guides website has seen a steady increase in organic traffic during the past two months, owing to robustness of content and availability to different segments. It has also outdone monthly best-case and worst-case scenario forecasting by an average of 20%, with monthly unique and total visitors tracking consistently above expectations.

To date, the rankings achieved show a marked improvement from the keyword positions before the campaign began, with all previous rankings on page four or lower in SERPs.

A natural side effect of the campaign was the obtaining of links to Barcelona content elsewhere on The Times Insider City Guide. The guide has also secured rankings for broader informational searches around visiting Barcelona.

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