“Create great content” is something we, as SEO’s, hear so much these days that it’s become a bit of a cliche. Surely it’s a given that we all want our websites to offer the very best content available, so why declare it like it’s some sort of novel idea?
The idea of creating content, whether that be to raise awareness of a brand or increase conversions is not one that has missed the majority of the business world. In a recent B2B content marketing study carried out by the Content Marketing Institute, 88% of US businesses said that they use some form of content marketing as part of their overall strategy.
So if we can assume that most businesses are creating content on a regular basis, it’s only going to be a matter of time until we see a saturation point of information available on any specific topic, or in any particular industry – assuming we’re not there already.
Making your content visible
This instantly changes the challenge from creating content to actually getting your content seen by a relevant audience. In other words, how are you going to make your content stand out from an increasingly busy crowd, and get in front of the people that are going to help your business grow?
This challenge is definitely a common one; in the same CMI study referenced above, only 30% of organisations declared that they believe their content marketing efforts are effective. So what’s happening to the other 70%?
More than likely, those who aren’t seeing success from their content marketing have failed to engage the relevant audiences. This could be down to the content they’ve created, but more commonly, it’s because those audiences haven’t actually seen the content in the first place.
Surely then, telling relevant audiences about your content is the next step on the pathway to success?
What is influencer engagement?
Influencer engagement has quickly become a way to get your content, and therefore your brand, in front of a large number of people who have the potential to become your customers.
Whilst the term “influencer engagement” is bandied around with increasing frequency, there’s a clear difference between working with a standard blogger who writes a few posts about your industry each month, and a real “influencer” – i.e. someone who has the power to influence the behaviour of a large following, potentially more so than your brand alone can.
How to identify an “influencer”
There are a few basic things to check when determining whether the person/group/site is deemed as an “influencer”. For example:
Do they have a following? – Check their social channels; true influencers will have followings into the thousands, if not tens of thousands.
Does their following engage with them? – There’s little point finding someone with lots of followers if those followers aren’t interested in what they have to say. Check tweets, Facebook threads, LinkedIn articles etc. to ensure their communities are actively engaging with them on a regular basis.
Who are they engaging with? – Do people with high influence themselves start discussions with your chosen influencer? If the influencer engages with other important people in the industry, do they get a response?
Who are your audience, and where are they?
The most important thing to determine is where does your audience consume information? For example, there’s little point in targeting someone who is famous on Instagram, which typically appeals to a younger, trendier demographic, if your business sells HR software and you are looking to get your product in front of business professionals.
Spend some time really analysing your target audience, and identify the channels that they use on a regular basis. For example, using a tool such as Buzzsumo can help you identify authors of highly shared articles around HR-related topics. Likewise, monitor LinkedIN, particularly Pulse, which has a largely business-focused audience, to identify contributors with large followings.
Article authors and commenters are great starting points for finding outreach targets, once you have investigated whether they meet the “influencer” criteria highlighted above. Alternatively, writing a guest post on an influential website (from which you can link back from) can also be beneficial.
Put in the groundwork
True influencers are undoubtedly going to be busy people that receive a lot of requests, so it’s important to outreach to them in the right way. It’s highly unlikely that they’ll be willing to work with you with little prior knowledge about you or the brand you represent, therefore putting in the time and effort to establish a relationship with them is highly recommended at first.
Once you have built up a rapport and they understand your brand, you can start to explore ways in which you could work together, and the mutual benefits that this could bring. You may already have some ideas in mind, but be open to discuss alternatives, based on what they feel would be best for their own audience.
Don’t be afraid to walk away if the opportunity is not right for either party. It’s better to do that than to work with someone who isn’t necessarily going to represent your brand and its values in the right way.
How can all of this benefit your SEO?
So you have a great opportunity with an highly influential individual in your industry, but how is this going to help you increase your website’s rankings? After all, this is going to determine whether it is worth investing your time undertaking this type of activity.
Backlinks – Getting a backlink from an influencer and/or the website they run can have a big impact on your SEO performance. Secondary links signals may also help play a part; other websites may link to the content hosted by the influencer if they see it as offering a resource for their own visitors.
Social signals – Whilst not as strong as backlinks, social shares can play a part in SEO. Perhaps you have agreed to get your influencer to share an informative piece of content on your website, which in turn could play a part in getting their own followers to share the piece further, which could continuously increase its reach.
Build reputation – Seeing that you have worked with influencers may play a part in persuading other influencers to work with you too, particularly if they can see that you have run a successful campaign together. This then makes it easier to achieve SEO signals such as backlinks and social shares in the future.
By Sean Butcher, head of SEO at Blue Array