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Is SEO Best Practice the Enemy of Success?



In an industry that abounds in folklore and celebrity influencers, is SEO “best practice” the key to mastering the SERPs or a shallow goal that leads to missed opportunities?

What is “best practice,” who defines it, and why is it so widely adopted?

What Is ‘Best Practice’?

“Best practice” tends to refer to a method of working that has been generally accepted as better than others at achieving a result.

When we speak about SEO “best practice” it conjures images of page title lengths, word-counts, and Domain Authority thresholds.

It suggests that there is an accepted method of optimizing websites to make them more appealing to the search engines.

The Benefits of Best Practice

There are positives to be found from having a widely agreed set of practices. There is a reassurance that can be felt by both practitioners and their clients.

Security for Practitioners

SEO is an industry that still has so many unknowns.

When you first start out in this industry ranking a webpage can feel like a mix of science and magic.

Best practice gives us the security that we are working in a way that may generate results. It gives comfort and a clear path to follow to those who have no experience.

Security for Clients

Best practice also gives clients and stakeholders a feeling of security.

If they are familiar with some aspects of SEO, knowing that their appointed experts appear to be following those guidelines assures them of their legitimacy and potential success.

The Issues with Best Practice

There are, however, downsides to accepting a set of practices that you have not tested yourself.

Deciding on ‘Best Practice’

“Best practice” is a noble goal, it suggests there is a right and wrong way of acting and that can clearly be defined.

One problem with it within the SEO industry is that even the more common tenants are disputed amongst professionals.

Without confirmation from the search engines, arguments abound.

As seen in recent Twitter conversations following Moz’s Britney Muller’s discovery of a contentious statement in a Google document, we can’t even agree on whether click-through rate is a Google ranking factor.

If seasoned professionals are unsure of what constitutes a ranking factor, the widely believed “best practice” for this industry could be leading us all astray.


“Best practice” also suggests there is only one route to success. In SEO however, there are many facets to growing traffic.

Back in 2017 Google’s Gary Illyes stated in relation to a question about top ranking factors that “it very much depends on the query and the results which signals count more.”

How then can we suggest that there is a “best” way to optimize a page if the signals that determine its ranking are weighted differently for each search query?

Ammunition for the Competition

The touting of best practice is often the opening gambit of SEO agencies trying to get a foot in the door with a new business.

Often the lack of an H1 on a terms and conditions page, or a missing robots.txt is listed as a fundamental flaw in the optimization of a site bringing doubt over clients’ minds of the efficacy of their incumbent provider.

In reality, however, such a small detail is unlikely to bring the website to its knees as the try-hard agency might allude.


The other concern with best practice is that ticking all of those boxes can be costly.

If the only purpose of including a robots.txt file is to have one then this might not be a good use of an SEO or a developer’s time.

The resource and financial implications of following best practice can result in more important tasks that have the propensity to move the needle being relegated due to time and resource restraints.

How Was SEO ‘Best Practice’ Formed?

Determining if SEO best practice is a help or a hindrance really hinges on how it has formed and is followed.

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It could be argued that best practice within the industry doesn’t really exist.

With so many methods shared and taught, however, there is definitely a set of traditions that individuals either trust or have actively rejected.


There are many detailed and valuable guides to SEO for beginners.

They help to signpost the way forward for those who have never optimized for search engines before.

They shine a light on the way search engines work, what they favor, and how websites can capitalize on that.

The real issue with these mediums is not the resources themselves, but how SEO professionals approach them.

They should be treated like a car manual, telling you all you need to know about how the vehicle works, what the warning lights look like, and how to fix the engine if it goes wrong.

Armed with this knowledge we can feel confident to drive off into unchartered territory and explore.

Instead, some have fallen into the trap of approaching these guides like a sat-nav, fully expecting them to guide us to our desired destination of Position 1.

Many of us don’t take the time to wonder though, how is it that webpages with thin content, non-existent backlink profiles or poor meta-tag usage are ranking higher than our own, finely optimized sites?

Unfortunately, the answer would appear to be that sometimes the search engines do not behave in the way we expect them to.

When we try to follow best practice, we are in fact trying to abide by a set of rules that the likes of Google have not backed.

It is like only ever filling your car up with a certain brand of fuel because your local car owners’ forum tells you it’s the best one.

It might actually be the most expensive and unless you experiment with other types of fuel, or the manufacturer confirms the engine was built to perform best with it, why would you take that suggestion as gospel?

Unless there is evidence to back up this claim it would be foolish to assume it is correct.

Search engines are complicated, and the truth is, the algorithms are not known outside of the organization that developed them.

Any attempt to categorically state that they work in a particular way, unless confirmed by the company themselves, is naïve.

Instead, we should use the guides and checklists as our jumping-off point. They should form the start of our testing, holding our hands as we enter the murky world of SEO.


The word “influencer” may conjure up images of make-up mavens, heavily filtered images and exotic backdrops, all hoping to persuade you to buy a product so they get a cut of the sale.

Apart from the odd entrepreneur who is trying to flog their latest online course, the SEO community taking part in social media and forums is largely trying to disseminate information and help others in their quest to improve.

These may be for purely altruistic reasons. It might be to increase their own profile. The result is the same; there are a lot of “experts” in this space touting their view on how SEO works.

There is nothing wrong with professionals who have gained experience and wish to share it with others, it truly is a selfless act.

The problem again is how we approach the insights given by these experts.

The barrier to becoming an SEO influencer is low. How do you decide who is a credible person to pay attention to?

There is the additional problem of differing opinions. There are many well-respected SEO professionals who take the time to really engage with their following.

These people give advice based on their years of experience. There are others with as large a following and impressive a career history who totally disagree with the advice they give.

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So who is right?

Whenever I hear SEO best practice discussed, a tweet is often used as the evidence to substantiate it; “I saw [SEO influencer] say on Twitter that click-through rates are a ranking factor”.

Before we know it, this becomes lore.

Agencies hold meetings to update their teams, blog posts are written and strategies are altered to accommodate this new insight.

The issue with the blind following of others’ advice is that it might not be right.

It could be correct for what that SEO has seen on their own site, or within that particular vertical, but how can it be guaranteed that it will be the case for our own?

Best practice seems to pass down the lineage of SEOs through word of mouth. Juniors trust that what their seniors say is correct.

If those seniors are trusting what they see on Twitter without testing and questioning then the industry becomes rife with information that is inaccurate.

At best, the information being spread forms another checklist.

Examples of Damaging ‘Best Practice’ Myths

There are many best practice rules that can be questioned. Below are a few persistent ones that are often championed without question.

Meta Title Character Limits

Sixty characters maximum or your rankings will suffer. That’s a myth that seems to raise its head ever so often and particularly amongst newer SEO practitioners.

Although truncation does occur on both mobile and desktop SERPs, this differs between devices and search engines.

This image is an example of a page’s title truncated in the desktop search results.

Example of a truncated page title on a desktop SERP

Example of a truncated page title on a desktop SERP

This image shows the same page’s title truncated in the mobile SERPs

Example of a truncated page title on a mobile SERP

Example of a truncated page title on a mobile SERP

Google’s own guidelines on writing page titles suggest we “avoid unnecessarily long or verbose titles, which are likely to get truncated when they show up in the search results.”

There is no maximum character limit stated, however.

In fact, as discussed by Moz, “there’s no exact character limit, because characters can vary in width and Google’s display titles max out (currently) at 600 pixels.”

Imagine an “I” compared to a “W”, these take up a differing number of pixels. Sixty wide characters might take up more than 600 pixels, whereas 60 thinner characters may leave space for more letters.

My agency, Avenue Digital, recently ran an experiment to see if Google reads and indexes keywords past the truncation point.

We found that Google did pick up the keywords in the title, despite them being truncated.

This suggests that the arbitrary character limit is unnecessary for ranking purposes and therefore only needs to be considered for click-through optimization.

Example of a meta title truncated where missing words were counted for ranking

Example of a meta title truncated where missing words were counted for ranking

The issue with keeping your page titles to 60 characters or fewer means your goal of avoiding truncation in the SERPs might not be achieved and you could well be missing out on valuable keyword real-estate.

As Google is picking up words after the point of truncation and ranking the page based on those keywords (although to what degree these keywords are factored into rankings remains undetermined), then it would be foolish to miss out on this opportunity to include keywords that could help your rankings.

Include a Robots.txt File

Often one on the checklist when auditing a website is the robots.txt. It doesn’t seem to go further than that.

Now, what does the file contain?

Is it necessary considering the set-up of the site?

More often, simply, is there one present?

The presence of a robots.txt is not going to impact the crawling, indexation, or ranking of your website.

Therefore, when this point is raised in audits or adding a robots.txt is escalated as an urgent task, it is another example of best practice being followed blindly without consideration for the benefits.

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When a task is executed without any clear understanding of what it is hoped to achieve then the cost of implementation should be ruled prohibitive.

Disavow All Bad Backlinks

The Google Search Console disavow tool is dangerous. It allows people with little knowledge of what they are doing to easily decimate years of constructive outreach efforts.

One common assertion in the SEO industry is that “bad” backlinks should be disavowed.

However, with recent iterations of the Google algorithm, even Google spokespeople have stated that for the majority of sites the disavow tool is not needed.

Google’s own John Mueller has declared that we shouldn’t “fret the cruft” when using the disavow tool.

That it is really designed for use with links that you intentionally built that go against Google’s guidelines, not the ones that have organically grown in your backlink profile over the years.

John Muellers Tweet about disavowing

John Muellers Tweet about disavowing

Following the “best practice” advice of disavowing any “spammy” link can damage your success. It takes time and resources away from work that could actually benefit your SEO rankings and traffic.

It can also lead to genuinely helpful backlinks being disavowed because their origin is unknown or they are misunderstood to be harmful links.

Copy Length

Another myth of the best practice lore is that copy needs to be long in order to rank.

When asked by copywriters or clients how long a piece of copy should be “for SEO” we’ll often reply “the longer the better.”

Some may even give a word count minimum, such as 800 words or even longer.

However, this is not necessarily accurate. It is more correct to say that copy should be as long as is needed to convey an adequate answer to a searcher’s query.

For example, when searching “what is the weather like in Portugal”, the first organic listing in my SERPs is

The total word count for copy on this page, discounting anchor text for other pages on the site, is less than 20.

Second place is, which has even fewer non-anchor text words.

These two pages are ranking with barely any copy on them at all because the answer to the searcher’s query can be summarized in a simple graphic showing the temperature over the upcoming week.

Writing copy is a laborious task.

Writing high-quality, well-converting copy is even harder.

Giving copywriters a minimum number of words they have to write for acceptable content is a distracting and unnecessary stipulation that can lead to poor copy being churned out.

For pages where conversion is key having reams of text that does not add value to the reader can be detrimental in achieving a sale or contact.


Best practice should be treated like training wheels.


  • Helps us to feel safe when we’re new to the road.
  • Gives us the confidence to speak to outsiders and appear knowledgeable.
  • Gives routine and ideas when we’re lacking.

But like any training wheels, at some point, they need to be removed so you can ride over more rocky terrain and accelerate.

Following “best practice” can distract from activities that will actually benefit your SEO efforts and in some cases can be harmful.

Use it as a guide in your early days but if you have called yourself an SEO for more than a year it would be worth re-evaluating what you “know” about SEO and seek to prove your knowledge with results.

More Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, June 2019


A Guide to SEO in the Philippines



A Guide to SEO in the Philippines

Going digital is inevitable. Businesses that used to be purely brick-and-mortar are now migrating online and payments are moving from purely cash to digital. This is expected as the pandemic has pushed customers to utilize online shopping more than ever due to health and safety concerns and convenience. To dominate this landscape, you need to understand the state of SEO 2022.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), there is a “…strong uptake of e-commerce across regions, with consumers in emerging economies making the greatest shift to online shopping.” For example, their report shows that China’s e-commerce rose from 19.4%to 24.6% between August 2019 and 2020, and shopping apps in Thailand had a jump of 60% in downloads in March 2020.

However, even as the UN General Assembly President Volkan Bokzir said that “…the trend towards e-commerce is likely to continue throughout the recovery from COVID-19,” some countries are still coping with the change as barriers to effective e-commerce are still present.

Now the question is, will it be wise for you and your business to shift to e-commerce? In this article on the state of SEO 2022, you will see the search landscape the Philippines has, the performance of possible SEO agency partners, and the digital trends you should be preparing for.

  1. Search and e-commerce landscape in the Philippines
  2. State of SEO 2022 in the Philippines
  3. Digital trends to prepare for
  4. Key takeaway

Search and e-commerce landscape in the Philippines

According to DataReportal, 67% of Filipinos were internet users by January last year, with an increase of 6.1% between 2020 and 2021. Statista has projected that by 2022, there will be approximately 84.75 million Filipinos who are internet users.

Most of our time is also spent on Google and Facebook, with the Philippines clocking 750 million total visits on Google and 258 million total visits on Facebook. It makes sense then that stores have created social media accounts to further promote their businesses.

Another study published by Statista last December has shown that the Filipino consumers have accessed e-commerce websites for their products or services which undoubtedly contributed to the 3.55 billion US dollars in e-commerce revenue in the country.

These figures show that digital migration of businesses and creation of online businesses are in the position to flourish this coming year. In fact, even the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez predicted that by 2022, registered online businesses are expected to reach one million.

When it comes to websites, there are 32,117 Philippine websites according to Woorank.* However, not all of these are from MSMEs or large corporations.

*When our report was published, there were 32,073 websites. That means between the publishing of the report and of this article, 44 new websites have been created.

Why we recommend that a business serious in digital migration create a website

There are a couple of reasons why any business looking to dominate the search landscape should have their own website.


By having a website, you get to show your leads and customers that you have the information they need. You get to set up a blog and provide answers to their questions, you get to set yourself apart from other business in the same niche as yours (especially if they don’t have a website or they have one that is poorly done), and you get to control the information about your business that is shown to your customers.

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Digital marketing

Your website also gives you more options when it comes to digital marketing. First is you get to utilize SEO to show up on the first page of the SERPs. Any customer that is looking for a product or service in your niche will find your website and get to know you and what you offer.

You can also build an email list through your website, utilize retargeting marketing, get cited by people promoting or discussing your offerings, and many more.


Since you get to put the necessary information about your business and your products or services in your website, you get to control the UX, and you also get to put client testimonials in your website, then that means you get to build your brand.

When your customers look up your products or services on the search engines, they will know that you’re trustworthy (go back to our first point, credibility) because they see who you are, the work you’ve done, and what you stand for. Compare that to just having your products on Shopee or Lazada, where people are also less likely to take a chance on you especially if your products are premium because they are (understandably) scared to purchase from a business they have no complete information on.


When people search for a question that is related to your niche and they find an answer because you’ve written something about it, then they become more interested in what you have to offer. This also goes for those who found your website because they were looking for products in your niche. They can head on to the Contact page of your website and become your leads, or the people you can send emails to or market your products and services to even more.

State of SEO 2022 in the Philippines

In this section, I want to discuss the state of SEO 2022 in the country. That means discussing pricing and the performance of different SEO agencies in the country.

Why does the state of SEO matter when we’re talking about digitalization? As mentioned earlier, it is highly recommended that your digital migration involves the creation of a website. Thing is, not everyone knows how to create a website or how to make a good one.

Plus, when you migrate your business online or start a new online business and you create a website, you need to make sure it’s searchable. Simply put, your website is pointless if people can’t even find it.

Hence, it’s important for you and your business that you know SEO performance in this country. Because you will most likely be paying for that service.

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SEO pricing

When it comes to pricing, there is no standardized cost. This is because different businesses have different needs. For example, here are our clients:

SEO Hacker clients

And here is our package for SEO:

SEO package

As you can see, we have a range of $2,500-$5,500 instead of just offering either-or. This is because we recognize that even within the same package, our partners will lean towards the utilization of some services within that package more than others.

If a partner is starting from scratch, then it would get more expensive as we have to build their online presence for them from zero.

But that’s just us. The range of prices for SEO services in different agencies can range from $1,000 to a whopping $20,000. This is why some businesses opt to go for some agencies or individuals who offer cheaper SEO services that use black hat tactics. Unfortunately, what that means is that the business ends up getting penalties from search engines like Google.

Maybe you’re wondering why SEO is expensive. That’s because when we offer our services, we’re offering to put you on the map (especially if you’re a relatively new business), outrank your competitors online, and build your brand. We do those things with an entire team that takes care of your blog, link building efforts, guest posting, and of course—your website.

You can check out our SEO services package here.

Performance of top SEO agencies

Next, to make the best choice of who to partner with in your digital migration, you need to see the comparison of the performance of top SEO agencies in the country. These comparisons are done through Semrush and Ahrefs.

I consider these agencies to be the top agencies in the country because they are the ones that showed up on the first page of Google when I searched for “SEO Philippines.” A good indicator of an SEO agency’s performance is if they rank for their own keywords in the first place.

That said, this is Semrush:

State of SEO 2022 SEO Hacker comparison

Our domain authority score is higher than our competitors, meaning our site is the most trustworthy out of the agencies. We also have the most organic keywords and referring domains. Referring domains are the external websites that link back to our website (think of it as word-of-mouth; we have about 4.88K people citing our website).

Compare that to the competitor right below us. They have a massive amount of backlinks, but they only come from the same 614 domains.

Here is our organic traffic comparison. Organic traffic refers to the users who found our website from unpaid sources such as search engines.

SEO Hacker traffic comparison

As you can see, our organic traffic can only really be slightly comparable to one other competitor. We are actively working on improving our traffic which took a hit around June, most likely due to employee hiring and promotion.

Now, for Ahrefs. Here is our referring domains graph:

Ahrefs referring domains

As you can see, we have the most referring domains out of the top SEO agencies in the Philippines.

And lastly, here is our profile from the same tool:

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Ahrefs state of SEO 2022 SEO Hacker

Our domain rating here is 75—which is really high—and you can see we are pretty consistently topping our competitors.

Last but not the least, here we are on the SERPs:

SEO Philippines

And that is how I can confidently say that what we do works.

Digital trends to prepare for

Lastly, there are three digital trends that we at SEO Hacker believe should be the focus of any business.

Google MUM Rollout

I have already written twice about Google MUM, and that’s because I sincerely believe that any business that has a website should be preparing for the rollout. Google will start to become a lot more visual and their level of user comprehension will get even deeper than how it is today.

For SEO Hacker and our partners, we prepare for the rollout by focusing on semantic search and segmentation, and ensuring that our images always have alt texts. The point is to ensure that we get outside of our own shoes and think and behave the way our users do so that we can give them what they really need, not what we think they need.

Voice Search

Next, voice shopping is anticipated to be a $40 billion channel by 2022. I don’t suggest pouring all your resources on voice search, but I do recommend optimizing for semantic search and for ensuring that your website is always mobile-friendly.

After all, the rise of voice search tells us that more and more people are searching and shopping using mobile.

Going Digital

Lastly, businesses need a digital marketing strategy. But first you have to actually take the leap and migrate your business online. If you don’t have a digital strategy this 2022, you will have difficulty keeping your business afloat.

For one, Google won’t be going away. As I wrote in the search landscape section, search in the Philippines alone clocks about 750 million total visits on Google. So when your target audience is looking for answers, it would be in your best interest to ensure that you’re there providing them answers.

And of course, since going digital is inevitable, then SEO is inevitable.

Key takeaway

As businesses migrate online this year, competing in the search landscape is predictably about to get more challenging. To ensure that you make the best decisions for your business then, you need to be as informed as you can be so you can create a good digital strategy and have a smart transition online.

That said, one of the most important things you can do is to find a top agency to partner up with so you can dominate the search landscape and build the kind of presence you want online. If you want to know more about the work we’ve done for our partners and understand the state of SEO 2022 even better, download the complete State of SEO in the Philippines 2022 report by clicking the image below.

State of SEO 2022 report

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How We Built 600+ Links In 30 Days & You Can, Too



How We Built 600+ Links In 30 Days & You Can, Too

Link building is very time-consuming. Just securing 10-20 links a month can be mind-numbing.

By aligning resources, PureLinq created a link building program that provided up to a 90% response rate on email outreach without using overseas VAs or email automation.

On January 19, I moderated a sponsored webinar presented by Kevin Rowe, CEO at PureLinq.

Rowe showed a proven method for unlocking your link building potential.

Here is a quick recap of the webinar. For more details, complete the form to access the entire webinar.

What Traditionally Works In Link Building?

Before diving into how we built 600+ links, let’s level set.

By knowing what traditionally works, you can easily understand how to speed up the process and maximize your time.

Article-Based Links Work

It doesn’t matter if the site is established or new. Local businesses can consider integrating more local citations, but the article-based link still works.

[Find Out What This Means For Your Business] Instantly access this webinar →

Image Source: PureLinq

The Traditional Way Of Getting 600 Links

Traditionally, the formula of 40,000 sites/(emails open rates of 11% + response rates at 3% + a placement rate of 9%) gets you 600 links.

Without a good program in place, you would need to build a list of over 40,000 sites. That alone is highly time-consuming.

You’ll need to create a good link building program to help prioritize your resources.

[Increase Your Outreach Response Rate] Instantly access this webinar →

Elements Of A Good Link Building Program

Creating a good link building program is the key to speeding up your process and ensuring that every step helps your goal.

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The traditional first step is to tackle and scale the most challenging but essential parts of link building:

  • List building.
  • Finding contacts.
  • Customizing emails.
  • Content creation.
  • Outreach.
  • Follow-ups.
  • Verification.

Low response rates, tailored content, and more could take you a year to scale.

So, how do you do all of this in just one month’s time?

The Faster Approach To Link Building

You can reduce the amount of time by selecting the right approach.

Narrow Down Content

Rowe’s team narrowed down content and focused on outreach and prospecting instead.

The two best scenarios that worked for them were:

  • Thematic Reclamations.
  • Unlinked Brand Mentions.

[Learn About These Scenarios] Instantly access this webinar →

Build Relationships

Rowe’s team got a 90% response rate when using pre-defined relationships.

This 90% response rate means that to get to 600, they only had to send 700 outreach emails — instead of the traditional 40,000.

The key to that response rate is relationships.

Rowe suggests these tools to start building lists and relationships:

  • Muck Rack.
  • Pitch Box.
  • Buzz Stream.

Then, offer things that your future partners may need.

What works well for bloggers, influencers, authors, and publishers is giving them free crawls and finding their broken links.

You can use simple SEO tactics that they don’t know how to execute, like entire site crawls on 5,000 pages, and finding and correct all the links.

You can also recommend a WordPress plugin.

These free things are great reasons to establish a relationship.

You’ll have a high response rate as a result, but don’t ask for anything in return.

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Just start building that relationship and maintain that list.

The links will come naturally.

[Get Relationship Building Steps] Instantly access this webinar →

Easily Maintain The Process With Tools

Consider building your workflows and process maps in project tools.

Rowe uses these tools to help him standardize operations for scalability:

  • EOS Entrepreneurial Operating Systems
  • Lucid Charts

Steps To Take In Link Building

Step 1: Identify the criteria: Metrics, quality.

Step 2: Search index for sites: Filter, manually review.

Step 3: Search Ahrefs: UBMs, Thematic.

Step 4: Pitch prep: Paragraph + link, angle.

Step 5: Outreach: BuzzStream list, one-to-one.

Step 6: Reconcile: ScrapeBox,

Rowe dove deeper into other link building processes of using Google, Ahrefs, crawlers, and even building your own search engine.

[Get The Full Steps & Tools] Get instant access to the entire webinar→

Even if you do hundreds of links each month, your link building should be one-to-one.

Acing link building is your next step to learning one of the most critical factors for search engine optimization.

[Slides] How We Built 600+ Links In 30 Days & You Can, Too

Here is the presentation:

How We Built 600+ Links In 30 Days & You Can, Too from Search Engine Journal

Join Us for Our Next Webinar!

KPIs & Metrics That Matter For Digital Marketing Success In 2022

Struggling to identify KPIs and metrics for your business? Want to get more actionable insights from your data or just find a more efficient way to track and measure campaign success?

Join our next webinar on January 26 at 2 p.m. ET to learn how to make your digital marketing metrics a success.

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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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4 Strategies To Find Instagram Influencers Best Suited For Your Business



4 Strategies To Find Instagram Influencers Best Suited For Your Business

For another year, Instagram remains the top social media platform for influencer marketing.

In the most recent State of Influencer Marketing by Linqia, 93% of marketers agree that Instagram is the best social channel for influencer marketing.

In addition to using the main Instagram newsfeed to reach their target audiences via influencers, 73% are using Instagram Stories and 37% are using Instagram Reels.

Choosing between Instagram and other social networks is just one step in the process. Without the right influencers, you won’t get your desired results on any platform or social network.

In this article, you’ll find four essential tips to follow when choosing the right influencers for your influencer marketing campaigns.

1. Keep Your Business Goals In Mind

Before you start looking up the influencer’s vital metrics such as engagement rate and the number of followers, think about your business goals.

Step back and determine why and how you intend to use Instagram influencer marketing campaigns.

Why Do You Need Influencers?

What specific objectives do you have in mind for influencer marketing?

The three primary goals should be:

  • Increasing brand awareness.
  • Generating leads or sales.
  • Increasing your Instagram followers.

Your choice of influencer will depend on these objectives.

For example, increasing your Instagram followers will require you to create competitions or quizzes using a specific hashtag.

Roping in an influencer who can participate in the competition and encourage his/her followers to jump in too will be the right way to go.

On the other hand, sales and lead generation will need you to use affiliate marketing and discount codes.

So, you will need to partner with influencers whose audience is likely to buy your product.

Do They Fit Your Brand’s Personality?

The influencer needs to align with your brand’s identity or at least the products you want to sell.

If there is no brand alignment, your campaigns will generate low ROI.

Having a clear idea of your influencer campaign goals is necessary to find an influencer that closely reflects your brand.

For example, an influencer who is known for traveling on a budget will be the right choice to promote low-cost travel gear.

Hiring a model who offers beauty tips will be a waste of time.

Sperry, a boat shoe brand, worked with more than 100 micro-influencers who were already posting high-quality images of Sperry’s products on social media.

Most photos comprised the micro-influencers in high-altitude scenic locations.

Until recently, Canon focused on using professional photographers to drive their latest innovations on Instagram.

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Thinking outside the box, however, the brand has started embracing the new generation Instagrammers like filmmakers Elise Bauman to promote their products on Instagram.

Although these influencers have a lesser number of followers, they offer better engagement owing to their industry expertise.

On the other hand, American Express uses a mix of mega-celebrities as well as micro-influencers to promote their brand on Instagram.

Jim Meehan (@mixography), an award-winning mixologist, is one such niche influencer actively involved in their #AmexAmbassador campaign. He promotes the brand on Instagram, along with celebrities such as Paul George (@ygtrece), a basketball professional from the LA Clippers, and Leo Chan (@levitatestyle), a fashion and travel influencer.

All of these influencers take advantage of American Express services during their frequent travels.

2. Look For Genuine Engagement

Engagement is one of the critical metrics of Instagram influencer marketing.

The average engagement rate for an Instagram influencer was around 3% in 2021, with influencers having less than 1,000 followers registering the highest engagement rate of 8%.

The engagement rate goes down as the number of followers increases. However, sometimes this metric can be misleading as popularity does not always result in conversions.

You must first determine how authentic the engagement is.

Analyze The Comments

In 2021, the HBO documentary “Fake Famous” made three non-famous people with no more than 2,500 followers to tens of thousands, namely Dominique Druckman (@dominiquedruckman), Chris Bailey (@chrisvsmyself), and Wylie Heiner (@wylezzz) to make people aware of the fake engagement problem.

They used tactics such as purchasing bots and paid setting fake “all-expenses-paid” photoshoots to score perks from brands later on. Chances are you may also encounter fake influencers.

One of the easiest ways to determine if the influencer is fake or genuine is to analyze comments on their posts.

Usually, vague comments such as “nice pic” or “cool dress” or “looking good,” and comments with emojis often mean fake engagement.

On the other hand, relevant and conversational comments are a sign of real engagement, which brings us to the next point.

Search For Word-of-Mouth Reactions

Real followers ask questions, make personal statements, and also tag their friends in comments. These are word-of-mouth reactions by genuine followers.

Check out Lisa Linh (@bylisalinh), an Instagram influencer. All her posts receive real responses, like this one, from her genuine followers, not bots.

Only this type of engagement can result in new leads and sales.

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3. Explore Hashtags Related To Your Brand

It is better to rope in Instagrammers who are already talking about your brand or products. They could be the next influencers to promote your brand.

Some hashtag research can prove helpful in this regard.

Avoid High-Density Hashtags

Hashtags are just like keywords for SEO. You will come across several high-density keywords. These are the most used hashtags on Instagram.

Though relevant, using these keywords to look up influencers will be a waste of time.

For example, if you start your search with #organic, you will have to go through more than 54 million posts.

But, as you dig deeper into long-tail (or low density) hashtags, the number of posts also goes down.

In this case, #organicfoods has 338,491 posts, #organicfoodstore has 14,054 posts, while #organicfoodchicago has only 66posts.

Both #organicfoods and #organicfoodstore will provide you will more accurate search results. #organicfoodchicago has too few posts to be considered for influencer search.

Use Keywords That Describe Your Brand Or Target Audience

You can also start your search with keywords that describe your brand or target audience. Focus on tags with a substantial number of posts to find influencers.

If you’re selling running or jogging accessories, start your search with something like #running, and Instagram will suggest the most trending and relevant hashtags.

Here you can use hashtags such as #runningmama, #runninggirl, and #runningcoach to look for influencers catering to a specific niche.

Use The Hashtags #sponsored Or #ad

Instagram also requires influencers to use #sponsored or #ad hashtags to distinguish promotional content. You can follow these hashtags to find out the potential influencers in your niche.

You can mine your followers or your competitor’s followers to see who is using #sponsored or #ad hashtags.

If they are using it, they already know what influencer marketing is. You can ask them to promote your product.

4. Use an Influencer Platform

All these methods, though useful, are manual and time-consuming.

Fortunately, you can use an influencer marketing platform to find the right influencers with just a few clicks.

Some of the popular ones include HYPR, Tap Influence, Upfluence, Famebit, NeoReach, Revfluence, and Influencer.

Find The Right Influencers

You can search for the most suitable influencers in your niche using different sets of parameters such as the number of followers, type of followers (demographics), and work experience.

Complete Campaign Management

You can also manage one or more of your influencer marketing campaigns using these platforms.

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You can control campaign features such as advertisement text, graphics, hashtags, social media mentions, giveaway details, influencer payments, and the complete campaign timeline through one platform.

Real-Time Analytics

You can calculate various campaign metrics including views, reach, engagements, ROI calculations, and URL tracking. Several platforms allow you to generate daily, weekly, and monthly reports that you can share with your marketing team.

Perhaps, the only downside is that all these platforms usually charge you a recurring monthly or annual fee. If you can set aside a budget for this, you will save a lot of time and resources.

Keep the following in mind when choosing a platform:

  • Choose a platform with a substantial number of influencers from your niche. But, make sure the quality of influencers is also good.
  • Find out what content creation, distribution, and tracking tools are available on a platform. You should be able to control every aspect of your campaign through the platform.
  • The platform should also provide a good selection of real-time analytics and reporting tools.
  • You should also get built-in payment and transaction facilities to pay your influencers.
  • Don’t forget to check what others are saying about the platform. Check user reviews along with how long the platform has been around before registering.

Here are a few examples of influencer marketing platforms to get you started:

  • TapInfluence: It is a cloud-based influencer marketing platform. According to TapInfluence, their platform can result in an 11x increase in ROI of your influencer marketing campaigns. It also comes with an ROI calculator that lets you know whether your sales goals are worth investing in a marketing campaign.
  • Famebit: It initially focused on YouTubers, but now Famebit supports almost all social networking sites. You can find social media influencers starting with 5000 followers belonging to varied niches.
  • HYPR: HYPR claims that over 30 percent of the world’s largest brands, agencies, and influencer marketing platforms trust their data. This feature-rich platform comes with several tools based on sophisticated algorithms to help analyze the registered influencers.

Parting Words

Influencer marketing is catching up, particularly on Instagram.

However, only the right influencer can help you succeed. So, you need to focus your efforts on finding the perfect match for your business.

Hopefully, these four tips will help you find the best fit for your brand.

Have you used Instagram influencer marketing before? Tell us more about it in the comments box below.

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Featured Image: Kicking Studio/Shutterstock

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