Influencer marketing will be very important to SEO this year.
In fact, one of our recent blog posts talks about why influencer marketing will come into its own in 2016.
In the last five years we have gone from seeing SEO as something that can be manipulated, that focusing on keywords alone will result in a failed marketing strategy to the rise content marketing as a critical component.
As the years have gone by, organic traffic has come out on top.
According to SEO platform BrightEdge, more than 50% of all online traffic comes from organic searches, with email, display and referral being the next big traffic sources.
More and more marketers are realizing the importance of having a strong referrer network for their online marketing efforts.
According to Forbes, “Influencers may be marketing’s next “golden goose,” as people no longer trust ads, but they do trust people.”
Combining SEO and influencer marketing can boost referral traffic without spending a penny — or at least AS much as you might spend on advertising.
We discuss why influencer marketing is going to be important in 2016, and ways you can approach this marketing strategy for guaranteed success.
The Evolution of SEO
Since the 90s, search engines have been indexing pages, but the term SEO started being used a few years later.
At the time, SEO strategy included finding half a dozen keywords that were relevant to your business, and then using them profusely on your website hoping to direct traffic to the page.
It is now 2016 and social sharing is a hot topic.
A simple keyword strategy no longer works because search engines have gotten smarter.
While they penalize keyword stuffing, they do encourage social sharing and referrals.
Social sharing has always been a good way to boost off-page SEO efforts.
With well-written blog or video content as a base, you can hope to get a steady flow of traffic from Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Plenty of people sharing your content is exactly what you want.
However, having influencers who are important to your industry or niche share your work is even better.
In a May 2015 study conducted by Schlesinger Associates, 84% of marketing professionals plan to launch at least one influencer marketing campaign in the next year.
81% of marketers who had already executed influencer marketing campaigns agreed to their effectiveness.
Let’s take a look at what this is all about.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Off-page SEO doesn’t only look at how much traffic is coming to your web site via social media.
It also looks at the influence of the people sharing your content.
Having key influencers share your work on social media can boost not just the amount of traffic you get, but also increases your website’s ranking boosting visibility.
For example, if someone with 10,000 followers shares your content, the benefit to your rankings would be far more than that of someone with 20 followers sharing your work.
Another example: imagine having your product or service reviewed by ten influential bloggers in your niche. All third party content about your company, your product.
And, let’s not forget that the influencers speak to your customers.
The more you can leverage third party influencers to talk about you and your product, the more authority you build, the more your SEO improves.
Creating an Influencer Marketing Strategy for 2016
You may be wondering how you can get started with influencer marketing?
Here is a bare-bones guide to getting this strategy right in 2016.
These are all key points:
Identify the right influencers
A good influencer marketing strategy starts with identifying the right influencers to target.
Don’t focus on the people with the most followers without considering industry relevance. Look for people within your industry that not only have large followings on social media, but also engage with their network.
You’re looking to find a few influencers (the number will vary on the size of your industry) who are going to be willing to share your work with their network. Having one key influencer share your work could put it in front of hundreds of thousands of people, so opt to have a “short” list of influencers rather than spreading yourself thin.
Have engaging content or something compelling to share with the influencers
The cornerstone of your influencer marketing strategy is having content that is worthy of being shared.
Focus on content that will provide value to not just the influencers you are reaching out to, but the industry at large.
Longer content seems to do better in terms of social sharing, so consider writing posts that are longer than 1000 words, and don’t be afraid to consider long-form pieces that are 2000-3000 words long.
Search engine algorithms favor longer content pieces as they are believed to be more authoritative.
Focus on topics that are relevant to your influencers and that explore topics in-depth instead of opting for many short posts.
Creating guides, ebooks, in-depth long form blog posts and videos are several ways to go about this for your audience.
Another is create insightful and interesting infographics. Many people prefer to digest information through the image format.
Engage with your influencers
It is obvious that influencer marketing only works if the influencers share your work on social networks and through backlinking.
To make that happen, you’ll need to engage with the right influencers.
But this needs to be done in the right way.
Don’t spam them on social media or via email, asking them to share your work.
Write content that they will want to share (see above point), but also remember that they are under no obligation to share your work. Here are some ways you can tip the scales in your favor:
- Create a list of “top XX people” in your industry and share this post with the people included in the list. They will be more willing to share something that is self-promotional.
- Reference a product or service that someone with influence in your industry has created and refer them to the post via a tweet. If you’re referring to their work in positive light, they will be interested in what you have to say and may share it with their followers.
- Follow your targeted influencers on Twitter and share some of their content
- Subscribe to their blog’s RSS feed and leave some meaningful comments to their blog posts (most influencers appreciate this)
You can also opt to build your network slowly, but targeting the influencers and trying to flatter a social share out of them isn’t unethical.
Just remember not to spam them or bombard them with messages.
Ask nicely, and if they ignore or decline your request, move on to the next person on the list.
Influencer marketing is the next wave in 21st-Century marketing, and it’s our bet that it’ll persist in some form or another for a long time to come.
Establishing a good strategy is the key to making influencer marketing work, so spend some time highlighting the influential people you will target, and how you hope to win their attention with valuable content.
With that in place your SEO will improve.