From time to time, we have the opportunity to work with our amazing partners to bring you new tips and tactics for improving your marketing strategy. Today, Erin Vaughan from Modernize shares their insights into how influencer marketing can help to improve your brand’s search engine rankings.
Take it away Erin!
Like most cutting-edge engagement techniques, influencer marketing brings out strong feelings in the marketing community. There are those who feel that it’s a gimmick, the kind of superficial buzz-word devotion that created the Fyre Festival disaster. And then there are those who champion its ability to draw the right customers to a product or service—to create allure for your brand and trust in your audience. Like most approaches, the true value of influencer marketing is in its context. When aligned with the right blogger or social media maverick, influencer marketing can vastly improve the quality of your leads, boost your brand, and bring in inbound links and drive search engine ratings.
Today’s consumers are savvier than ever. They’re wise to flashy marketing tricks designed to steer them away from their best interests, and they’re willing to do more research and investigation on their own, rather than trusting service providers and manufacturers at their word. But they will listen to a third party that they know and trust, which is why influencer marketing is so powerful. At its best, influencers act like the advice of a good friend, directing customers to those products that have made a difference in their life.
The question is how can you do it in an authentic way so that your potential customers don’t grow to resent your brand? Influencer marketing is tricky to perfect, in that it can damage relationships with consumers if it’s handled clumsily. Here’s how it can help you improve your SEO standings—without losing credibility for your brand.
Influencer Links Are Quality Links
In the old days, SEO was mainly about driving traffic to a website and upping your ratings in any way you could. But search engines like Google soon grew wise to these kinds of deceptive tactics, instigating controls to sniff out dubious rankings. This is one of the reasons influencers can be so powerful. Your ranking depends not just on inbound links, but on the quality of those links, as well. Links that come from websites with a large audience or high SEO ranking help your site rankings rise in return.
The best influencers have their own website or blog, with its own high-ranking web presence and access to a large and diverse audience. They also may contribute to additional highly-coveted sites, to bring you inbound links that are not just numerous, but of good quality, too. If you can manage to find a blogger, reviewer, social media personality, or other web presence that fits your brand to a tee, the rewards for your efforts will be high-pedigree backlinks that in turn drive up your site’s rankings.
Another strategy is to initiate a consumer advocacy program. In this design, brands identify their happiest and most loyal customers on social channels and leverage their word-of-mouth referrals to peers and followers. Typically, these advocates are provided with a platform to share their passion for the brand and their personal interaction with it. Companies may also offer advocates insider access to their company by giving them the chance to directly contribute to a brand’s future. The best advocates not only have a personal connection with your product, but also influence among their peers as a good source of trusted recommendations.
That influence allows them to drive visitors to your site. Additionally, your influencer’s readers or followers will be more likely to share your links as well—and that spike in interest can lead larger outlets to pick up your offerings for their own articles and posts. All of that drives rankings through the roof, but you have to be careful. The backlash for a bungled campaign can be brutal.
Influencers Can Hit the “Refresh” Button on Your Content
Over time, brands often struggle to create fresh content about their products. After all, there’s only so many times you can blog about the “Top Five Reasons to Change Your Energy Provider”. Readers instinctively know when your content has lost its zest, and they’re likely to head for the hills when they sense this kind of ennui taking over.
Influencers can add a new take on your content, as well as a fresh ambassador voice praising its virtues. In some cases, influencers can even tap their audience for content as well. They can create momentum on social media campaigns, for example, by asking followers to share their personal experiences with your product or brand, and tagging them all with a shared hashtag. That drives traffic to your website and also increases brand awareness.
And if your website is already stocked with engagement-rich content, such as internal links or in-site apps, you’ll be prepared when new visitors arrive at your site. This can drive not just organic traffic, but engagement metrics—such as dwell time—that affect rankings even more. And it means more opportunity to improve your conversion rates, the holy grail of SEO metrics.
But You Have to Be Careful About the Influencer You Choose
Rankings are one thing, but to really capture the mercurial magic of a successful influencer campaign, you must select a blogger or brand ambassador who truly fits your company’s aesthetic and mission, as well as one who has access to the kind of audience you’re trying to attract. You must strive to do the impossible—to make something you engineered feel organic.
That’s certainly a tall order, but the boosted traffic and PR for companies that manage to get it right is worth the struggle to find a perfect influencer match. An influencer’s word holds power. In fact, a joint study run by Twitter and analytics firm Annalect found that users trust social media influencers almost as much as their friends. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they go to their friends for product recommendations, while 49 percent said they also rely on social media influencers for reviews.
The first step is to know your audience through and through. With the high quality analytics tools out there, you should be able to determine not just the basic demographics, but where your audience likes to hang out (i.e. what platforms they use), and also their interests, habits, and the websites that they tend to visit. Of course, if you really want to understand what makes your audience tick, you need to practice strategic listening on social media, as well. Don’t just pay attention when consumers mention your brand name or share your content on various platforms. Listen for the topics that keep them interested and engaged outside of your specific brand, as well. Doing so will help you relate to your customers’ pain points and identify sites they frequent regularly, drawing you toward a community that aligns with your customer base.
We at Modernize know all too well—there’s rarely a time that marketers wish they would have listened to their customers less. And replying to feedback and integrating it into new releases and products can only help your reputation as a brand that pays attention to its consumers. That, in the end, is what differentiates some of the most distinguished companies from the sea of competitors out there.
About The Author
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.