Matt Cutts, former Head of Webspam at Google, had this to say about the topic:
But the proof is in the pudding, right?
This data by cognitiveSEO shows that sites taking pride of place in the SERPs have 1,723 social actions tied to them, including shares, comments and likes:
This drops down as the ranking position declines, but the key thing you should take away from this data is:
Sites ranking on the first page of SERPs have 1,000+ social actions.
It could take months for your latest blog post to be shared this many times organically. But, depending on the influencer you're working with, 1,000+ social actions could be achieved within a matter of weeks.
In short, receiving links from influencers on social media is a proven way to support your SEO strategy, and improve your chances of ranking on Page One for your coveted keywords.
Their YouTube Channel
Creating solely video content, vloggers are taking YouTube (and the internet, in general) by storm.
Over 300 hours of video content is uploaded to the platform every minute. That makes it pretty easy to find an influencer to work with, no matter what niche you're working with.
By partnering with YouTubers on an influencer marketing campaign, you've got the opportunity to build backlinks from a site with high backlink metrics.
Sense a "but" coming, here?
The only "but" is that like the other platforms I mentioned, YouTube dishes out nofollow links.
If you're able to partner with an influencer that has an engaged following, you could drive the ROI of your campaign even further than the 6.5:1 average.
Find Future Collaboration Opportunities
Influencer marketing also offers your brand the opportunity to be positioned in front of more influencers you could partner with.
Well, it's not uncommon for beauty bloggers to have an audience of other beauty bloggers.
If you can partner with a larger beauty blogger influencer and get featured on their site, who's to say that their audience wouldn't want to also work with you—and give you another juicy backlink to add to your profile?
Not only does this help further with driving up your campaign's ROI, but it saves time.
Get these influencers to come to you, and reduce the number of hours you spend slaving away, looking for potential collaborators.
Improve Brand Awareness
Okay, so I said that SEO was out of the equation for this section... But, I couldn't not include something about the many benefits increased brand awareness has on your organic search strategy.
A site with tons of social shares, brand mentions and an already-established reputation to provide value?
I know the answer, and so do you.
What Type of Influencer Collaboration Is Best?
When you're just dipping your toes in the water, influencer marketing can be overwhelming.
A high percentage of influencers ask for payment upfront when working on collaboration campaigns, so how are you going to know whether or not it's worth it?
It's not just a case of luck; it's a case of good research.
To kick off, I'm going to explain the two types of influencers you could work with. The one you choose depends on the goals of your campaign.
As the name suggests, micro-influencers are on the smaller end of the influencer scale. But, that doesn't make them useless when partnering for a collaboration.
You see, micro-influencers are small, but they tend to dominate a niche.
They're not a jack of all trades that dabble in a bit of everything; they're experts in their field... Even if that field is small.
They have a smaller, engaged following that's really in-tune with the content they're sharing.
And, they tend to offer more affordable rates for brands like you, who are looking to partner with an influencer on a marketing campaign. (The average price for an influencer with <1,000 followers is $83 per post.)
That's the jackpot for any influencer marketing campaign: a loyal community with high engagement rates. That means their audience is more likely to click your link, and more likely to make a purchase.
Let's take a look at an influencer marketing campaign by Daniel Wellington. They partnered with a micro-influencer, @shadow_scuba, to promote their product:
Despite having just 37,500 followers at the time of writing this article, the Instagram post generated over 2,000 likes and a bunch of comments from @shadow_scuba's loyal fans.
But, it's not just pretty fashion retailers who can benefit from micro-influencer partnerships.
I reached out to Glen Allsopp, the founder of Detailed, who's experienced some great success with micro-influencers.
18 months ago I wrote what later become the most successful blog post (in terms of social shares), I've ever written.
I documented how just 16 companies were dominating Google's search results.
I sent over a message to what you would call a micro influencer, a journalist from The Guardian, who reached a ton of people with his tweet.
Since micro-influencers have better engagement rates than larger profiles, it could make them a better (and more achievable) route to improving the organic rankings of your website.
2. Popular Influencers
The second type of influencer you could partner with for SEO benefits are popular profiles.
These influencers tend to have a much larger, varied following than their micro alternatives—often in the thousands, or millions.
However, since these influencers offer better opportunities for brands to make a sale (#power), they come with a hefty price tag.
The average price for partnering with a popular influencer with 100,000+ followers is a whopping $763 per post. (That's $680 more than a micro-influencer, on average.)
It comes without saying that this type of influencer marketing relationship is for brands with big bucks... Or those willing to seriously invest in their influencer collaborations, and then reap the rewards.
A fantastic example of a campaign from a brand using this type of influencer is a bit risque: Tinder.
The dating app, which is hugely popular with young adults, partnered with a handful of meme accounts on Instagram to promote their new services.
Here's an example on @shitheadsteve's Instagram page:
Partnering with an account that has almost 2 million followers, Tinder didn't even have to think of a clever marketing technique to partner with them.
In fact, the influencer continued to share their own meme-style content (and Tinder is no stranger to being a victim of memes, so it didn't require a ton of creative energy!).
The influencer simply tagged Tinder in the caption of the image. End of collab.
Although these larger, popular influencers tend to have lower engagement rates—this example saw almost 40,000 likes from 1.7 million followers—they're fantastic for brand awareness.
And remember how I mentioned the impact brand awareness has on SEO?
So, if you've got a bigger budget to play with, working with top influencers could be the way to drive your brand's SEO through influencer marketing.
That is, if you can afford the whopping price tag.
How to Harness the Power of Influencers to Boost Your SEO
Feelin' pumped up and reading to start the wheels on your new influencer marketing campaign? Let's get started!
Once you've defined the type of influencer you're going to aim for (micro vs. popular), here are the next steps to use this tactic for boosting your site's SEO through a collaboration:
1. The Basics: Keyword Research
What better way to find influencers that'll help with your SEO than go to the so-called creator of the internet? (That's Google, btw.)
Simply open up a new tab and use this formula to find influencers in your niche:
[Industry + "blogger"]
[Industry + "YouTuber"]
[Industry + "influencer"]
For example, if I wanted to find influencers in the beauty industry to promote my latest mascara, I could reach out to anyone on this results page:
The beauty of these formulas is that your results will vary.
You might hit the jackpot and find round-up posts sharing top influencers in your niche—like the examples above. (Hello saved time from not having to trawl through individual blogs!)
On the other hand, you could find micro-influencers with cheaper rates—but awesome SEO metrics—towards the end of Page One, or the start of Page Two.
Simply use the formulas above and add your city, state or business's location.
You'll soon be greeted with a list of micro-influencers in your niche and your location. It's the virtual SEO equivalent of killing two birds with one stone!
2. Hashtags Are Your New Best Friend
Hashtags are rife on Twitter and Instagram captions... But you already knew that, right?
What you might not realize is that this hashtag usage gives your brand the perfect opportunity to find influencers of any size.
Put it this way: Even if you don't class yourself as an influencer, I'll bet you've used #marketing alongside a link to your recent blog post on Twitter, or #selfie on your Instagram post. (Or even #L4L on your first days of Instagram. No shame here, don't worry.)
You're not alone in doing this.
Regular people like you and I, along with influencers of all sizes, do the same. They use hashtags to promote their content and display it in front of new people.
You can sift through these hashtags and find influencers to skyrocket your site's SEO.
All you'll need to do is:
1. Think of a hashtag that influencers in your niche might be using. This can be broad, like #marketing.
2. Use hashtagify.me to find other, relevant hashtags that are often used alongside the original one.
3. Browse the list of Top Influencers on the right-hand side, or search the suggested hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to find others.
Told you; it's really as simple as 1-2-3!
3. Find an Influencer Platform
If you really want to take the legwork out of finding influencers to work with on your SEO strategy, there's no shame in getting extra help.
In fact, companies exist solely to help other brands find influencers to work with.
(If the thought of manual research is enough for you to drown in tears from boredom, this option is a lifesaver.)
These are called "influencer platforms," which are essentially databases that list thousands of influencers in various niches, with differing SEO metrics.
They could've asked a brand new blog to collaborate, or simply exploited one of their connections to land a spot on sites that aren't listed in BuzzSumo.
You can't find their strategy without doing a bit of digging.
Don't worry, it's totally legal. And free. And easy!
In order to do this, you'll need to add your competitor's backlink profile to SEOptimer.
All you'll need to do is add their URL to the Backlink Research tab, and then click on the competitor you want to sneak up on:
I can then click through to analyze each site individually, and hazard a guess as to whether the link comes from an influencer collaboration.
Told you it was easy!
What Makes a Good Influencer?
So, you've built your list of potential influencers and you're ready to get started with your influencer SEO campaign.
While you might be rearing to send outreach emails to each target on your list, you'll first need to make sure that your list is populated only with uber-specific influencers. That way, you can improve the chances of seeing an SEO improvement (and ROI) on your influencer SEO campaign.
Click through to each influencer's site. Ask yourself:
Does this influencer work with businesses or brands already? (Check for a recent blog post or social update that mentions a brand)
If your answer to all three questions is positive, add them to your list. You've proven they're more likely to agree to a collaboration, and that the partnership is worth your investment.
If your answer is "no," it may be wise to scratch these influencers off your list. They might not be willing to collaborate if they rarely mention brands on their profiles, while low engagement rates could lead to a lack of results from your collaboration.
Once left with your uber-targeted list, fire off a personalized email to each influencer. Include:
What your brand is, who it's for and why you want to collaborate
Why your product would benefit their audience
What's in it for them (i.e. compensation or free products)