Not only must brands be easy to find online (lest they be seen as vaporware!), but everything a prospect sees in the early stages of the buying process should make them want to have a conversation with your sales team. It only takes one bad review or negative blog post to ruin your brand’s search engine results page (SERP)—and turn off buyers.
But there’s a group that can help drown out your detractors: your advocates. These are your happiest customers and biggest fans. Their enthusiasm will help you build the digital word of mouth search engines love and improve your search engine rankings in the process.
The new search engine success factors
Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz, said in his 2014 keynote at the SMX West search marketing conference that companies focusing on improving their website and products, will rank better than sites that bank on backend SEO techniques. Why? Better brands will have a positive online reputation because of the genuinely good things being said about them.
Search engines now care more about the quality of your brand’s online mentions than the quantity of backlinks or keywords you have. (Check out Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors to learn more.)
This is why your online strategy needs to be founded on genuine acts of human advocacy—not just technical SEO tricks. If you can amplify the voices of your top advocates, you’ll be rewarded with better rankings.
1. Advocates build trust & authenticity
Authentic word of mouth about your brand online is a must for search engines. Your advocates can lend their authority and identity to help your web pages get found for the right reasons.
For example, when advocates leave positive reviews on popular 3rd party websites, like G2 Crowd, GetApp, and AppExchange, they can show up on SERPs. A recent study by G2 Crowd found that product pages with more reviews ranked higher on search engines. Brands with advocate marketing programs also received 3.5 times as many page visits as the average product page on G2 Crowd.
Having genuine reviews from real customers will also contribute to improved rankings because search engines want to find user-generated content about your brand.
2. Advocates boost content mentions and stats
Having your advocates positively mention your product on their websites is a great way to build organic SEO and links. You can also encourage customers to comment on your blog articles, or take part in discussions that are relevant to your industry and include links back to your content.
The way advocates interact with your content is also important to search engines. Rand says that one of the first parts of any SEO strategy should be building a loyal audience. When you have a following of advocates consistently reading and sharing your content, it can increase your returning visitors stats and decrease bounce rates—both of which are key metrics for search engines.
3. Advocates increase your social reach
Advocates love sharing relevant content among their networks. And more social media shares means more overall site traffic, which is important to search engines.
While social links themselves don’t directly contribute to SEO, visitors from social networks will likely spend more time on your website—which is tied to higher rankings. Plus, the larger your social share numbers, the more likely visitors are to read your page. Seeing higher social share numbers give viewers validation that your article is worth diving into.
The key to improving your search engine rankings is to motivate your advocates to create the positive word of mouth that search engines look for. Creating an engaging advocate marketing program that mobilizes and rewards your advocates for their actions is the first step.
To learn how an advocate marketing program can help you grow your brand online, contact Influitive today.