3 Ways Influencer Marketing Supports Your SEO Strategy in 2017

24 February 2017

3 Ways Influencer Marketing Supports Your SEO Strategy in 2017

It’s been about a year, since Google Webmaster Central, back in March 2016, issued a best practice guide to influencers who receive products in return for a review.

The post stated that if influencers were to link to the website of the product they’re reviewing, they should use a “nofollow” link. To remind you, a nofollow link instructs search engine bots that the link should not affect ranking for the website it is pointing to. (By default, a normal, “followed” link will).

Some predicted the end of influencer marketing.

“If I can’t get a link for an influencer collaboration, what is the point?” a seething SEO hot head was overheard saying.

But nothing could not be further from the truth – there is another way of thinking about the impact of campaigns. Influencer marketing can still play directly into your SEO strategy, and should not be considered a separate digital channel.

It’s time to think beyond “the link”…

1. Think Online visibility, not Search engine visibility…

Traditionally the SEO pro’s mindset focused on getting their website as high up the Google ladder as possible.

But for some type of searches this is not just challenging, it may even be impossible.

The searches I am referring to are a specific type of informational search where the user is researching the best product or service in your sector.

Taking a step backwords, let’s remind ourselves what informational searches are. They are searches where a user is looking for information, as opposed to being ready to purchase a product.

“How old is The Queen?”

“Average July weather in Paris”

“Best party town in UK”

These are all examples of informational searches. Around 50-80% of searches fall into this category, but is often an area neglected by brands.

It is challenging to rank for these searches, but not impossible. Providing high quality, keyword-focused content, providing answers to these informational queries, gives you the best chance of ranking.

Clearly, if you haven’t got content to answer these questions then you have no chance of ranking for research-stage keywords.

From the challenging to the impossible, when we look at a specific type of informational search, we see that Google is serving informational content when users research the best product or service in your sector:

“Top Bars in London”

“Best Watches under £100”

“Phone with best battery life”

If you were to search for these terms now, you’ll notice that the organic SERPs won’t display any brand pages at all:

As Googles sophistication has evolved, it knows the user isn’t going to be looking for a brand page. The users are researching the market, looking for an informational page such as an article - not yet looking for a particular brand.

If branded pages did rank for informational queries then the results pages would be full of bias - with each watch brand claiming their product was the ‘best’. (I am sure Swatch will have a very clear view on the best watch for under £100!)

Information about one brand’s products is less enriching for the user and Google is smart enough to know when a searcher is looking for authentic, impartial information.

However, just because you can’t get your website ranking, doesn’t mean to say you can’t get your product into the SERPs…

Enter Influencer marketing.

An SEO novice could be forgiven for believing that there is no point in attempting to build search engine visibility for informational searches. But they are important and we must not neglect them. Instead, ask yourself, “how can I can I get my product featured on websites that do show up?” This simple shift in your mindset can be transformative.

By working closely with Digital PR teams, SEO pros can collaborate with the influencers and publications who can and do rank for valuable research terms.

But how do you earn a presence on these websites?

In many cases the best way is outreach: simply get in touch with the Influencers and ask what is required to get your product featured on their pages, whether the answer is gifting, payment or another form of collaboration. (If it’s a followed link or a brand mention then you are well within Google’s Webmaster Guidelines). There is no right answer, or guarantee, but if you don’t try it won’t happen.

Whilst it may not improve your website’s search engine visibility without a followed link, the coverage will certainly improve your products online visibility. What’s more, brand mentions (including nofollow links) do have the potential to impact your SEO campaign, albeit less directly than links.

There are ways to earn followed links from influencers…

Gifting or payment isn’t the only way to earn coverage from an influencer. There are still ways in which you can build trustworthy followed links from influencers. You just can’t be lazy about it.

2. Content is still King

Creating high-quality, link-worthy content is your best bet. How many times have you heard that before?

Well, in 2017 it is still very much the case.

But how do you ensure that your great content earns links?

Do your research

The simple answer is to begin by doing your research. Identify who your target influencers are already linking to and create similar, but better content. Using tools such as Majestic is the most efficient way to analyse link profiles, but you can do it manually too.

Once you have created your killer content, outreach the influencer to tell them you have an improved version of content they have already linked to - and they may wish to consider linking to your superior option.

Ask if you can guest post about an informative topic

In all honesty, guest posting is becoming increasingly rare because many brands use it as a sales pitch rather than providing something of value to the reader.

However, if you do manage to convince an influencer that you are willing to write about a genuinely informative topic that you are an expert in then it’s a great way to build your brand authority.

In 2017 you have little chance of guest posting effectively if your post is in any way a sales pitch, so be sure to offer high quality content that the reader gains something from.

3. Give influencers a reason to talk about you

Make a splash.

What can you, as a brand, do to make influencers want to talk about you?

Some suggestions…

Host an event

Put on an event and invite influencers to it. Ensuring that there is a genuine incentive for attendance is of paramount importance if you want your influencer to attend, let alone link to you. These are our top tips:

  • Invite to an exclusive product launch
  • Opportunity to meet and interview a ‘big name’ related to the brand
  • A wining and dining experience (ensure it is relevant to the brand)
  • Make the influencer feel like a VIP – offer them extras that the other ‘punters’ won’t have access too

Offer influencers an interview with you

Influencers are always looking for fresh content ideas to keep their blog ticking over. Make their life easier by offering an interview with the owner of your brand.

This a great opportunity to talk in depth about your product and your story while being engaging to the reader. Win-win.