Influencer SEO: How to Harness the Power of Influencers to Boost Your SEO
You can’t deny the power of the influencer.
Even though it can sometimes feel a bit like ploughing cash into a new marketing trend, influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere.
Almost 60% of businesses are planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets over the next 12 months.
And, for every $1 spent on this form of marketing, businesses are making $6.50.
That’s an average ROI of 6.5:1 when businesses partner with influencers.
(In comparison, a “good” ROI for marketing campaigns is 5:1.)
Not bad, right?
The surge in preference for influencer marketing campaigns isn’t just because influencer collaborations can be fun… Although that’s true.
Influencer marketing offers tons of benefits to any kind of business, from SEO software to cat food retailers.
Why? Because it improves brand awareness, drives traffic to your site and boosts search visibility.
Not to mention the backlink you’ll get in the meantime.
Today, I’m going to walk you through a unique approach to working with influencers that’ll improve your site’s SEO.
But, that’s not just because we’re an SEO blog—don’t we all want to reach Google’s top spots?
Influencer marketing can help you get there.
How Could Influencers Help My SEO Strategy?
We all know that backlinks are the basis of SEO. They tell search engines that you’re a reputable site, hangin’ out with the cool kids who already have a squeaky-clean virtual reputation.
Influencer marketing can pair you with these so-called “cool kids”—and get you a backlink from their online homes.
And by that, I mean:
Blogging is taking over the world… And I don’t say that lightly.
Brands and companies with blogs receive 97% more links to their website, and are rated as the fifth most trusted source for accurate online information:
Every business should have one.
The industry has become so popular that influencers are creating their own blogs, too—even if they’re not selling products at all.
The best part? Because an influencer has spent time building their blog, fostering a community and writing engaging content, their sites have SEO power—power that you can harness for yourself.
Just take a look at Zoella, for example. This popular beauty and lifestyle blog has a strong Domain Authority of 52, and Page Authority of 60.
Wouldn’t it be incredible to have a backlink from here?
Through the power of influencer marketing, it’s possible.
…Even with an online superstar like Zoella.
Their Social Media
Along with influencers’ own websites, they’re likely to have other online profiles that could be equally as valuable as a backlink from their blog.
(Don’t believe me? Go ahead and Google your brand or personal name. The chances are, your social profiles show up!)
Social media is important for businesses. But in terms of SEO and backlinks, it’s critical.
Social platforms often have fantastic SEO metrics (Facebook’s DA is scored 100 out of 100, and Twitter has a PA of 97). But even though links from them are nofollowed, they’re not completely useless.
In fact, they’re pretty incredible.
If an influencer tweets a link to your site from their profile, Google won’t class it as a “backlink.” What they will class it as is a “social share”—a key ranking factor in their algorithm.
Matt Cutts, former Head of Webspam at Google, had this to say about the topic:
…But the proof is in the pudding, right?
This data by cognitiveSEO shows that sites taking pride of place in the SERPs have 1,723 social actions tied to them, including shares, comments and likes:
This drops down as the ranking position declines, but the key thing you should take away from this data is:
Sites ranking on the first page of SERPs have 1,000+ social actions.
It could take months for your latest blog post to be shared this many times organically. But, depending on the influencer you’re working with, 1,000+ social actions could be achieved within a matter of weeks.
In short, receiving links from influencers on social media is a proven way to support your SEO strategy, and improve your chances of ranking on Page One for your coveted keywords.
Their YouTube Channel
Creating solely video content, vloggers are taking YouTube (and the internet, in general) by storm.
Over 300 hours of video content is uploaded to the platform every minute. That makes it pretty easy to find an influencer to work with, no matter what niche you’re working with.
By partnering with YouTubers on an influencer marketing campaign, you’ve got the opportunity to build backlinks from a site with a Trust Flow of 99 out of 100.
Sense a “but” coming, here?
The only “but” is that like the other platforms I mentioned, YouTube dishes out nofollow links.
Luckily for you, it’s possible to gain followed YouTube backlinks to your site when working with an influencer, as they can embed backlinks into their video descriptions.
The Importance of Variety in Influencer Link Building
Google penalizes sites that practice black hat SEO tactics. One of those tactics is spammy link building, where site owners build a ton of low-quality backlinks over a short period of time.
That looks fishy to a human being with common sense, never mind an algorithm that’s smarter than a large chunk of the population.
Building links from blogs, social media and YouTube channels eliminates this risk entirely.
Why? Because you’re varying your backlink profile, and your links are earned.
It’s really as simple as that.
Case Study: 2,000+ Visitors and PageRank Increase
It’s all well and good me sitting here and listing the potential benefits you could get from influencer marketing.
But you want results, and the chance to see how an IRL-business has actually seen success from this type of marketing campaign, don’t you?
Just check out this case study:
Good Greens, a food company in Cleveland, Ohio, ran an influencer marketing campaign to promote their protein bars.
They reached out to local bloggers in the Cleveland area, and offered to supply them with a free bar if they published a review on their blog.
Thirty influencers (and tons of links later), the results came in full force.
Good Greens’ site traffic surged with an additional 2,000+ visits per month.
Their PageRank increased from PR0 to PR3.
But more importantly? Their influencer marketing campaign affected their bottom line, as sales increased by a whopping 50% in just four short months.
If that’s not an inspiration to start your own campaign, I don’t know what is!
By Working with Influencers, You Could Also…
Taking direct SEO impact out of the equation, there’s still value in influencer marketing to build your brand in more traditional forms.
Generate Leads and Sales
Remember how I mentioned earlier that the typical ROI for influencer marketing is 6.5:1?
Part of the reasoning behind such fantastic results is the way consumers—like you and I—buy online.
Think about the last time you purchased something online. How did you find out about it, and know it was a product you oh-so-needed in your life (and that you couldn’t live without it)?
There’s a high chance that it was recommended by someone else—whether that be a friend, a Twitter follower or an influencer.
One study found that 30% 0f consumers are more likely to buy something if it’s been recommended by a non-celebrity blogger.
If you’re able to partner with an influencer that has an engaged following, you could drive the ROI of your campaign even further than the 6.5:1 average.
Find Future Collaboration Opportunities
Influencer marketing also offers your brand the opportunity to be positioned in front of more influencers you could partner with.
Well, it’s not uncommon for beauty bloggers to have an audience of other beauty bloggers.
If you can partner with a larger beauty blogger influencer and get featured on their site, who’s to say that their audience wouldn’t want to also work with you—and give you another juicy backlink to add to your profile?
Not only does this help further with driving up your campaign’s ROI, but it saves time.
Get these influencers to come to you, and reduce the number of hours you spend slaving away, looking for potential collaborators.
Improve Brand Awareness
Okay, so I said that SEO was out of the equation for this section… But, I couldn’t not include something about the many benefits increased brand awareness has on your organic search strategy.
The fundamentals of SEO are based on relevancy and reputation.
Google wants to serve their customers well. If they didn’t, those customers would head to Bing.
Part of that means showing them the best quality, most relevant pages to their search terms.
So, who would Google want to show more:
- A site with a few measly, low-quality backlinks, or
- A site with tons of social shares, brand mentions and an already-established reputation to provide value?
I know the answer, and so do you.
What Type of Influencer Collaboration Is Best?
When you’re just dipping your toes in the water, influencer marketing can be overwhelming.
A high percentage of influencers ask for payment upfront when working on collaboration campaigns, so how are you going to know whether or not it’s worth it?
It’s not just a case of luck; it’s a case of good research.
To kick off, I’m going to explain the two types of influencers you could work with. The one you choose depends on the goals of your campaign.
As the name suggests, micro-influencers are on the smaller end of the influencer scale. But, that doesn’t make them useless when partnering for a collaboration.
You see, micro-influencers are small, but they tend to dominate a niche.
They’re not a jack of all trades that dabble in a bit of everything; they’re experts in their field… Even if that field is small.
They have a smaller, engaged following that’s really in-tune with the content they’re sharing.
And, they tend to offer more affordable rates for brands like you, who are looking to partner with an influencer on a marketing campaign. (The average price for an influencer with <1,000 followers is $83 per post.)
That’s the jackpot for any influencer marketing campaign: a loyal community with high engagement rates. That means their audience is more likely to click your link, and more likely to make a purchase.
Let’s take a look at an influencer marketing campaign by Daniel Wellington. They partnered with a micro-influencer, @shadow_scuba, to promote their product:
Despite having just 37,500 followers at the time of writing this article, the Instagram post generated over 2,000 likes and a bunch of comments from @shadow_scuba’s loyal fans.
But, it’s not just pretty fashion retailers who can benefit from micro-influencer partnerships.
I reached out to Glen Allsopp, the founder of Detailed, who’s experienced some great success with micro-influencers.
18 months ago I wrote what later become the most successful blog post (in terms of social shares), I’ve ever written.
I documented how just 16 companies were dominating Google’s search results.
I sent over a message to what you would call a micro influencer, a journalist from The Guardian, who reached a ton of people with his tweet.
For starters, his blog post received a ton of social shares, leading to an instant boost in brand awareness.
But, it wasn’t a one-hit smash for Glen; he says the article continues to shine on social media 18 months later.
After the micro-influencer tweeted his link, Glen’s content was also used in Microsoft Bing’s State of Search presentation.
Fancy some more results this influencer helped Glen to achieve?
The article alone has generated backlinks from over 230 different websites.
Not only did that give his site’s backlink profile a generous boost, but it helped his site boost its ranking power in the SERPs.
Glen attributes “a large part” of this success to a single tweet from a micro-influencer.
If you’re still not convinced, consider this statistic that proves their SEO value:
80% of the highest correlations between search positions and ranking are tied to social engagement factors.
Since micro-influencers have better engagement rates than larger profiles, it could make them a better (and more achievable) route to improving the organic rankings of your website.
2. Popular Influencers
The second type of influencer you could partner with for SEO benefits are popular profiles.
These influencers tend to have a much larger, varied following than their micro alternatives—often in the thousands, or millions.
However, since these influencers offer better opportunities for brands to make a sale (#power), they come with a hefty price tag.
The average price for partnering with a popular influencer with 100,000+ followers is a whopping $763 per post. (That’s $680 more than a micro-influencer, on average.)
It comes without saying that this type of influencer marketing relationship is for brands with big bucks… Or those willing to seriously invest in their influencer collaborations, and then reap the rewards.
A fantastic example of a campaign from a brand using this type of influencer is a bit risque: Tinder.
The dating app, which is hugely popular with young adults, partnered with a handful of meme accounts on Instagram to promote their new services.
Here’s an example on @shitheadsteve’s Instagram page:
Partnering with an account that has almost 2 million followers, Tinder didn’t even have to think of a clever marketing technique to partner with them.
In fact, the influencer continued to share their own meme-style content (and Tinder is no stranger to being a victim of memes, so it didn’t require a ton of creative energy!).
The influencer simply tagged Tinder in the caption of the image. End of collab.
Although these larger, popular influencers tend to have lower engagement rates—this example saw almost 40,000 likes from 1.7 million followers—they’re fantastic for brand awareness.
And remember how I mentioned the impact brand awareness has on SEO?
So, if you’ve got a bigger budget to play with, working with top influencers could be the way to drive your brand’s SEO through influencer marketing.
…That is, if you can afford the whopping price tag.
Influencer SEO: How to Harness the Power of Influencers to Boost Your SEO
Feelin’ pumped up and reading to start the wheels on your new influencer marketing campaign? Let’s get started!
Once you’ve defined the type of influencer you’re going to aim for (micro vs. popular), here are the next steps to use this tactic for boosting your site’s SEO through a collaboration:
1. The Basics: Keyword Research
What better way to find influencers that’ll help with your SEO than go to the so-called creator of the internet? (That’s Google, btw.)
Simply open up a new tab and use this formula to find influencers in your niche:
- [Industry + “blogger”]
- [Industry + “YouTuber”]
- [Industry + “influencer”]
For example, if I wanted to find influencers in the beauty industry to promote my latest mascara, I could reach out to anyone on this results page:
The beauty of these formulas is that your results will vary.
You might hit the jackpot and find round-up posts sharing top influencers in your niche—like the examples above. (Hello saved time from not having to trawl through individual blogs!)
On the other hand, you could find micro-influencers with cheaper rates—but awesome SEO metrics—towards the end of Page One, or the start of Page Two.
Planning to use influencer SEO to boost your local rankings? This step will help with that, too.
Simply use the formulas above and add your city, state or business’s location.
You’ll soon be greeted with a list of micro-influencers in your niche and your location. It’s the virtual SEO equivalent of killing two birds with one stone!
2. Hashtags Are Your New Best Friend
Hashtags are rife on Twitter and Instagram captions… But you already knew that, right?
What you might not realize is that this hashtag usage gives your brand the perfect opportunity to find influencers of any size.
Put it this way: Even if you don’t class yourself as an influencer, I’ll bet you’ve used #marketing alongside a link to your recent blog post on Twitter, or #selfie on your Instagram post. (Or even #L4L on your first days of Instagram. No shame here, don’t worry.)
You’re not alone in doing this.
Regular people like you and I, along with influencers of all sizes, do the same. They use hashtags to promote their content and display it in front of new people.
You can sift through these hashtags and find influencers to skyrocket your site’s SEO.
All you’ll need to do is:
1. Think of a hashtag that influencers in your niche might be using. This can be broad, like #marketing.
2. Use hashtagify.me to find other, relevant hashtags that are often used alongside the original one.
3. Browse the list of Top Influencers on the right-hand side, or search the suggested hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to find others.
Told you; it’s really as simple as 1-2-3!
3. Find an Influencer Platform
If you really want to take the legwork out of finding influencers to work with on your SEO strategy, there’s no shame in getting extra help.
In fact, companies exist solely to help other brands find influencers to work with.
(If the thought of manual research is enough for you to drown in tears from boredom, this option is a lifesaver.)
These are called “influencer platforms,” which are essentially databases that list thousands of influencers in various niches, with differing SEO metrics.
A handful of great influencer platforms include:
They’ll let you sort influencers by niche, engagement rate, social reach and other important metrics you’ll need to measure in order to predict their collaboration value.
4. Search What’s Popular in Your Niche
You could also search for popular content in your niche. The chances are, this content was created by an influencer—hence the high engagement rates, social shares and general traffic volume.
Head over to BuzzSumo and type in your industry, niche or collaboration idea.
Pretend that I offer content marketing services, and that I’m looking to partner with influencers who’ve covered the topic before:
Notice who’s shown first? Content marketing influencers like Moz, Search Engine Land and Hootsuite.
It’s great that these sites are showing up, but it’s hardly surprising. And, if it’s easy for you to find this data, it’s easy enough for your competitors to, as well.
But you can use BuzzSumo’s tool to your advantage by looking a little closer at their data.
Instead of looking at the URLs displayed, look at the author section. Chances are, these people are influencers themselves and contributing guest posts to the sites we already know and love.
It’s worthwhile adding these influencers to your list. Why? Because they’re:
- Building an influence in other online spaces. This builds their reach (and their influence)
- Constantly driving traffic back to their site—your collaboration will be visible to them!
- Potentially linking from these huge, SEO-rich sites to their own (remember what I said about reputation?)
5. Look to Your Competitors for Inspiration
Copying (or as I like to call it, “gaining inspiration”) from your competitor’s influencer SEO strategy allows you to find potential collaborations the steps above wouldn’t find.
They could’ve asked a brand new blog to collaborate, or simply exploited one of their connections to land a spot on sites that aren’t listed in BuzzSumo.
You can’t find their strategy without doing a bit of digging.
Don’t worry, it’s totally legal. And free. And easy!
In order to do this, you’ll need to add your competitor’s backlink profile to Monitor Backlinks.
(Not signed up, yet? Click here to grab your no-risk free trial and get started instantly.)
All you’ll need to do is add their URL to the Competitor Links tab, and then click on the competitor you want to sneak up on:
In the example below, I’ve highlighted URLs that look like they’re hosted on a blog.
I can then click through to analyze each site individually, and hazard a guess as to whether the link comes from an influencer collaboration.
Told you it was easy!
What Makes a Good Influencer?
So, you’ve built your list of potential influencers and you’re ready to get started with your influencer SEO campaign.
While you might be rearing to send outreach emails to each target on your list, you’ll first need to make sure that your list is populated only with uber-specific influencers. That way, you can improve the chances of seeing an SEO improvement (and ROI) on your influencer SEO campaign.
Click through to each influencer’s site. Ask yourself:
- Does this influencer work with businesses or brands already? (Check for a recent blog post or social update that mentions a brand)
- What are their typical engagement rates? (Use this formula to calculate)
- Do they have a site with good SEO metrics? (Aim for DA of 40+)
If your answer to all three questions is positive, add them to your list. You’ve proven they’re more likely to agree to a collaboration, and that the partnership is worth your investment.
If your answer is “no,” it may be wise to scratch these influencers off your list. They might not be willing to collaborate if they rarely mention brands on their profiles, while low engagement rates could lead to a lack of results from your collaboration.
Once left with your uber-targeted list, fire off a personalized email to each influencer. Include:
- What your brand is, who it’s for and why you want to collaborate
- Why your product would benefit their audience
- What’s in it for them (i.e. compensation or free products)
You’ll soon be greeted with an inbox full of collaboration-ready influencers, and a chance to boost your site’s SEO when you gain those coveted, juicy backlinks.
While all of the tips mentioned here can have fantastic effects on your business’ visibility in SERPs, influencer SEO isn’t a one-trick task.
You’ll need to partner with several sites in order to build your rankings.
Like they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
…And neither was an SEO strategy that sees your business’s site hit Page One for every target keyword!
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