Influencer marketing is changing the way businesses promote their brand online using simple, sincere, peer-to-peer communications that appeal to consumers on a personal level. Entrepreneurs, multi-level-marketers and network marketing models have been implementing the concept of influencer marketing for years, but its popularity online is quickly growing with SEO professionals as a standard for driving brand awareness and attracting new business.
A New Era of Search Results…
Influencer marketing is a direct result of Google’s increased user-centric focus. As the internet continues to grow exponentially, the challenge of connecting users with relevant, helpful content becomes increasingly more difficult for search engines. Since 2012, significant changes to Google’s algorithm have been steadily implemented to reduce spam and improve the quality of search results, but it also made it more difficult for brands to rank based on keywords alone.
Keywords Are Not Enough…
Keyword research once dominated SEO and SEM strategies for many years, until the spread of black hat SEO tactics began to undermine the quality of search results. Keyword stuffing, blatantly purchased backlinks, link farms and other techniques were used by unscrupulous marketing firms to gain an unfair advantage over competitors, gradually compromising the value of search results online. Businesses could simply purchase the top positions in search results, monopolize ad space and dominate SERPs even if their content wasn’t relevant to a query.
The changes implemented by Google’s algorithm in the post-Penguin 4.0 world are specifically designed to reduce spam in search results and reward websites that demonstrate legitimate, organic growth through their relevance and social engagement. Instead of ranking businesses on backlink popularity, Google drills deep into a website’s content and online metrics to determine its actual level of engagement, relevant to other similar sites.
For businesses, this means search results aren’t driven solely by keywords. Your website may be optimized with keywords targeting your industry or market sector, but generic terms like ‘thai cuisine’ or ‘running shoes’ merely cast a wide net. They don’t actually target the unique demographic of clients, businesses, or people you actually engage with.
What you may not realize, is that there are plenty of potential consumers already among your existing network who can help you reach deeper into the conversations taking place online, by people in need of your solutions. They’re called the influencers…
What Is An Influencer?
Influencers reach deep into the online community to connect your brand with users who not only value your solution, but align with your values. Influencer marketing integrates conventional SEO practises with the relatively new concept of attraction marketing, a strategy first coined by multi-level marketing specialist, Mike Dillard.
A successful influencer is an online personality who routinely engages with others through social media. Many have a dedicated platform such as a blog, Youtube channel, Instagram or Twitter account, through which they publish and share content of interest to their growing followers. They form the hub of an ever-expanding social network, indirectly influencing their peers through their endorsements.
Influencers aren’t just the most popular kid on the block. Typically, an influencer is recognized in their field as an expert, trendsetter, or even a local celebrity. What makes influencer marketing so effective is the ability to connect brands with users in unique ways that traditional ad space simply can’t access.
A network of influencers can generate online awareness, discussion and interest in your brand that can raise your profile with search engines. Attraction marketing is considered less invasive than banners and pop-up ads, popular ad methods which Google is trying to discourage through the implementation of new penalties targeted at mobile platforms.
Savvy entrepreneurs and business owners seek to strategically align themselves with influencers who are active on social media because they understand that peers share information and exert a much bigger influence on buying decisions than ads. If your friend sees a film they really enjoyed and recommends it to you, you’re far more likely to watch the same film for two simple reasons:
- a) Trust: I know you, I trust your judgement
- b) Common values: I respect or share your values
Friendships typically form around common interests, mutual respect, and shared values. When a friend recommends a product or service, their endorsement has value because you respect them and they have nothing to gain from the endorsement. By connecting with users through their fellow consumers, brands can attract more qualified interest in their service or product, rather than seeking to directly influence consumer decisions with advertisements.
Don’t underestimate the impact of online conversations. Recommendations from influencers can come through email, text, or on social media. These are conversations you could become a part of by channelling great content for use by influencers who share your core values and align with your goals. You stand a much better chance of converting these leads because you were endorsed by someone they trust during an online conversation.
Would you like more helpful SEO tips and advice? Contact Paul Teitelman, Toronto’s leading SEO & link building expert and discover how influencer marketing can grow your brand today!