How Influencer Marketing Improves Your SEO
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As Influencer Marketing becomes a proven strategy, the value of using bloggers to reach potential new customers, strengthen brand loyalty and generate sales is well documented. When Ariana Charnes’ line for Nordstrom sold more than $1 million in 24 hours, few in the industry flinched. But another important opportunity exists through influencer marketing for brands of all sizes that many have not yet fully explored. Influencers also provide high-quality content for your marketing campaigns and the validity of a third-party endorsement. When influencers link to your website through their social media and blog content, they become a tremendous boost to your SEO. This is true even when they use nofollow links, which we’ll discuss below.
As one of the first influencer marketing platforms to enter the industry, we have long valued the SEO potential of our influencers, looking at their domain authority and content quality alongside their social following. We have followed recent trends toward social-only content with caution. As brands have begun to value Instagram metrics alone, some influencers have responded by joining Instagram pods to artificially build their likes and comments, while others have resorted to unethical practices, such as the use of bots to add followers and engagement.
Using influencer marketing to boost your SEO won’t solve these social media problems, but shifting your focus back to all areas of influence -- including a blogger’s URL strength and audience quality alongside social following -- can help you identify stronger influencers for your brand, while spotting fraudulent activity more quickly. Adding SEO to your collaboration KPIs also gives your collaborations more overall value. Here’s a look at how influencers can help your search ranking and why focusing on SEO matters.
How Influencers Boost SEO
Although Google considers more than 200 factors when determining your organic search ranking, Search Quality Senior Strategist Andrey Lipattsev recently verified that just two factors matter most: content and inbound links.
The more high-quality URLs linking to your site, the higher your organic search ranking. Google doesn’t reveal what makes a link “high-quality,” but relevancy to your own website and the authority of the contributing website appear to matter most. Influencers give you both. They have strong traffic coming to their own URLs, and they actively engage an audience that is relevant to your site. Moreover, as followers share influencer content across their own channels, your direct traffic will rise — even when bloggers use nofollow links, a best practice for disposing sponsored content to Google.
Contrary to popular belief, using nofollow links, which prevents Google search bots from counting those links toward your ranking for keyword searches, still carry great weight toward your overall ranking. Search bots are just one factor in hundreds that Google considers. The factor that matters most to brands — clicks from actual potential customers — still very much count toward your ranking. Every time a bog reader follows a link to your website, Google counts that action toward your search ranking. The benefit you receive, of course, depends on the blog’s own traffic and how many readers click through to your site.
Verifying Blog Traffic
Viewing a blogger’s Google Analytics is the most trusted method for validating a blogger’s traffic and audience demographics. But it’s not always easy to get access! There are a number of ways you can get insight into this data, whether it’s via an influencer marketing platform or web analytics tool, but the only influencer marketing platform with verified Google Analytics data is Shopping Links. Posting a collaboration will provide you with access to the most suitable influencers, including a summary of the blogger’s SEO value and follower demographics. Alternatively, web based analytics tools such as Alexa.com, now a paid service, can give you a host of verified statistics, or you can use free resources like TrafficEstimate.com or Statshow.com to get an idea of a blog’s unique traffic and overall monthly views.
Another good way to verify traffic is through a blogger’s domain authority, a score from 1 to 100 that indicates how well a website will rank on search engine result pages. You can check your own domain authority at Moz.com, the entity that introduced this score, and you can check the domain authority of different influencers with a paid Moz subscription, or through the Blogger’s profile on Shopping Links.
Learn more: Create a brand account to read this article about how to use a blogger’s domain authority: Gain More Insights from Blogger Profiles
Effective SEO Collaborations
Identifying the right influencers is just the first part of improving your SEO with influencers. The second part is understanding how to run a successful collaboration. This starts with recognizing the importance of content quality to the value of an inbound link. An inbound link without context won't give you much of an SEO boost, but a thoughtful link within a relevant article -- even if an influencer has moderate blog traffic -- can be of great value. Keep this in mind as you establish your collaboration requirements. Agree on an appropriate topic and set a minimum word count of at least 300 words. Ensure that the post includes images labeled with your brand name. Just as importantly, take care to avoid tactics like keyword stuffing, which can actually hurt more than help. Google values authenticity and will favor an article that sounds natural over one with a specific number of keyword phrases.
Incorporating up-and-coming influencers is another strategy for effective collaborations. Although you will obviously see the greatest returns on high-influence bloggers, building inbound links from smaller bloggers helps your SEO, too. Consider gifting or using product seeding to encourage blog posts and links from a wide number of bloggers in your industry. Keep in mind, however, that this strategy is different from pursuing any opportunity to gain an inbound link. Bloggers who produce relevant, high-quality content are valuable, but you will not see the same value from "content farms" or blogs completely outside your industry.
Putting It All Together
When it comes boosting your SEO, building inbound links is one of the most effective actions you can take, making influencers a valuable resource. Moreover, by reassessing the value you place on bloggers to include their domain authority and blog traffic in addition to their social following, you can more easily identify “fake” influencers. It’s easy to buy Instagram followers, but a strong blog audience is nearly impossible to fake!
We have worked with hundreds of brands in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle industries since we first launched in 2014 and have helped companies like M&S, Macy’s and New York & Co. get see a greater ROI while boosting their SEO. We are always happy to offer advice to brands entering this space or who are curious about what trends are affecting their efforts. Please feel free to reach out at hello@shoppinglinks.