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How Influencer Marketing Impacts SEO

Tim.Dugan Web Promotion Nov 03, 2017

A young mom into DIY and carpentry falls for 2 Instagram ladies building furniture and decorating and follows immediately.

A young mom stumbles upon the Home Depot Instagram and…does not follow immediately. I mean, why should she? That’s…a dude thing.

But she connects with the 2 also-young, also-mom duo. Who happens to be partnered with Home Depot. Who works with Home Depot and sometimes promotes their tools. So now young not-so-corporate-loving mom shops at Home Depot.

And that’s the power of influencer marketing. Let’s talk about a more concrete definition, why it matters, and how to get started.

(Btw, the cool carpentry duo on Instagram: shanty2chic. I’m not sure if they have any kind of partnership with Home Depot, but they definitely have their own HGTV show, so they’re hot potatoes right now.)

The shanty2chic sisters on Instagram.

Getting the Definition of Influencer Marketing Straight

It can take a lot of different shapes. It can look like a partnership, with a contract and all that jazz, or just an informal, mutual appreciation that often involves sharing one another’s posts.

In simple terms, influencer marketing is a strategy that focuses on targeting a small set of industry influencers rather than a large target market.

Who?

So the makeup chick on Instagram with a million followers? She’s an influencer in cosmetics. The guy that shoots pics of bottles of Laphroaig next to Stormtrooper action figures? (YES. I know. Aren’t people amazing?) Whisky influencer.

Literally every hobby or profession has a corner of Instagram, and every corner has its big players. Those are your influencers. (Oh, but let’s be clear: it’s not just on Instagram, though they’re hugely popular on Instagram. We’re talking any kind of online presence, here.)

How does it work?

The influencer’s biggest power lies in the fact that they’re a real person. With a face, a name, their own style, cool ideas, and a love for the industry. They’re their own brand.

And people just trust other real-life people more than traditional advertising from corporate brands.

So it’s a good trade: a partnership between the biz and the influencer (which we’ll get into more below) involves the biz benefitting from the hard work the influencer has put into gaining the followers and building a personal brand, while the influencer benefits by getting paid by the biz (or getting promoted and endorsed by them).

It’s a mutual thing: both people are endorsed, sometimes there’s payment involved, and sometimes it’s just an agreement to share each other’s content and help each other gain more followers.

5 Ways Influencer Marketing Boosts SEO

5 seriously good ways. Ways so good you’ll want to make sure you put it in your marketing budget next quarter.

Frostbeard Studio, who makes bookish-inspired candles + crimeofrhyme, a popular “bookstagram” community member. A match made in heaven.

1. Influencers are more trusted more widely than corporate brands.

92% of people say they trust recommendations from people over brands, even if they don’t know the person making the recommendation personally.

So why spend so much money on that video ad or TV spot when what really gets potential customers going is hearing an actual person gush about you? How about let’s spend some money on creating some genuine word-of-mouth instead.

Let’s take our Scotch Trooper guy; let’s assume he has a partnership with Laphroaig. Let’s say Scotch Trooper has a deal with Laphroaig where they’ll send him a few bottles and he’ll write reviews and take some nice-looking photos for his Instagram.

Now let’s make up a guy called Dan, who’s not a peat-loving guy and has heard some weird things about the taste of Laphroaig. But Dan LOVES Scotch Trooper. He trusts him. And Dan says to himself, if Scotch Trooper likes Laphroaig enough to gush about it on his blog, I guess I could give it a try, too.

And then Dan falls in love with Laphroaig because Laphroaig is the best Islay scotch on the market, and—come on, Dan—who doesn’t love a good peaty whisky that tastes like a flaming bag of fertilizer? Get it together, Dan.

2. Influencer marketing increases reach and engagement.

How to stand out from the sea of sameness? From the miles of SERPs? Enlist the help of someone with their own following.

By definition, influencers have a lot of followers. An influencer sharing your content = more engagement, because it’s a whole new set of followers your stuff is getting exposure from.

And more engagement, in the form of more likes, comments, and social shares, means more traffic back to your site, and the greater likelihood that your good stuff will reach more people. Like ripples in a pond, baby.

3. Influencer marketing gives you a fresh perspective.

There are best practices for buying ad spots on websites and TV and social media. But since those ads will most likely be seen by a wider group of people—a bunch of people that haven't been organized into a following for you by an influencer—you’ll be casting a wider and less-focused net.

So influencer marketing does 2 things for you: 1) it gives you a hyper-focused niche to market to, so the big cumbersome step of even just finding the right people is already done for you.

But 2) is a bit more complicated: because you’re now able to cast a smaller and more-focused net, you’ve got to get creative about what you’ll say when you do have their attention.

It’s a bit of a challenge because you’ve got to work harder to figure out how you can be of use to the singular person. There’s a bit more strategy involved. But get it right and you’ll prosper. And since your influencer probably has a more down-to-earth and in-the-trenches perspective than you do, it’s a great idea to enlist their help in figuring out what kind of content breeds attention and engagement. After all, they know their following and industry best.

4. Influencer marketing gets more authoritative inbound links.

Backlinking strategy is still important. Google’s changing algorithms just mean that the type of backlinks are becoming more important, and one factor Google uses to gauge the quality of backlinks is authority.

Influencers have high authority in search engines, and having your inbound links on their site is gold for you. Have them share your posts, review your products, or give a general endorsement on social media. All of these give you more authoritative inbound links to your site.

5. Influencer marketing breeds collaboration opportunities.

It’s something that won’t happen right away, but build your influencer relationships right and collaborative projects could be a long-term goal for you.

The seller perspective (that’s you) and the real-life buyer perspective (that’s your influencer) coming together could be a powerful thing. They’ve got insights from a real-life user on what could be better and how to connect with other potential customers better. They share their super valuable insight, then it’s your job to figure it out how to use it.

Or—if you get a really good partnership going—your influencer might be inclined to work with you to figure it all out. Picture brainstorming content ideas together, working on a campaign together, or even collaborating on a new product together. It can all happen with the right influencer and a great relationship.

Getting Started With Influencer Marketing

I know it sounds like a huge undertaking, but let’s just take it one step at a time. The best influencer-brand relationships aren’t rushed, but are planned and taken slowly, kind of like dating a new person.

1. Find your influencers.

Find out what the hot hashtags are for your industry. Find out who’s using them on Instagram and Twitter first—that’s probably a great place to start. From there you can find those same folks on Snapchat, Facebook, and anywhere else they’ve built a presence.

Pro tip: start small. If you’re a small brand, especially start small. It’s more realistic (and more rewarding) to find someone you can relate to and grow with, wherever you are in the business life cycle.

2. Create some stellar content.

Really dive into what your potential influencers are doing. Do they have headaches or questions about their hobby/area of expertise? What have they complained about to their followers lately? Or conversely, dive into the good stuff: what do they love seeing in their industry, and how can you show them more of that?

Use this info to touch on their pain points and interests with your content.

3. Share it.

It’s kind of like if you heard the cute lifeguard chick at the pool (for some reason) just loves a guy in Hawaiian flowery swimming trunks, so you go out and buy some, and next time you’re at the pool you wear them and strut past her all nonchalantly like, “Check out these new swimming trunks.”

Hopefully, she’ll notice you. If you’ve done your research on your influencers, you’ll know what they like, and you’ll know what’ll get their attention. This is where you do what you can to get their attention, but in, like, a cool and, “Oh these old swimming trunks?”-kind of way.

4. Engage with them.

Share their stuff, reply to their stuff, engage. Kind of like if you had a Twitter crush so you liked and retweeted all their jokes and selfies. That’s like a big, “HEY, I LIKE YOU (and want to work with you),” and is a great way to get a potential influencer’s attention.

5. Talk about partnering.

This is sort of like when you’re dating someone and you’re ready to go steady and you keep hinting that you want to take it to the next level, and you’re like, “Hey, you pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down?” But they’re not.

Maybe you’ve been dropping hints that you want to work together by sharing their stuff and engaging on social media, but at some point you’ll want to get the conversation going about having an official relationship together.

But why not just keep it nice and breezy? Well, you can—but an official relationship can be much more powerful. That’s when you can be open with each other about what you want out of the relationship (payment, endorsement, sharing quotas), when you can rely on them to keep on sharing your stuff, and when you can start getting close enough to open up the floor to collaborative opportunities.

Them writing guest posts for you and vice versa, them starring in one of your videos, them writing a review of your product—that stuff just doesn’t come from a casual “occasionally we share each other’s stuff” relationship. That’s why it’s worth it to—at some point—talk about taking your partnership to the next level. But, just like with dating, don’t freak them out by rushing into it.

The Person Over the Brand

Let’s face it: it’s 2017 and the person means more than the brand, more now than ever before. We’re trusting corporate brands less, and our fellow person—even if that person is a stranger—more and more.

Maybe it seems like a headache because it’s more work for us: now that things are changing, we have to figure out how to play the game the new way. Now our jobs are to get in influencer’s good graces.

But personally? I love it. I love the fact that marketing is becoming less about the faceless corporation and more about our neighbor; more about trusting your neighbor and his word. We’re trusting each other more than brands, more now than ever. And I think—in the worlds of marketing and SEO, where things can feel so big and impersonal and all about numbers and money—that’s a beautiful thing, and I like the direction we’re headed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Dugan

I have a genuine passion to help business owners succeed in the ever-changing world of SEO through effective, timely, honest SEO strategies. I founded Web Services CT in 2011 which specializes in SEO for small and mid-sized businesses and am Director of Natural Search at Zero Gravity Marketing in Madison, Connecticut.

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