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January 18, 2010

How to Get in with Social Influencers to Build Links

Cultivating online credibility requires currying favor with Google, which is best done by link-building. So let’s think: If your business and website were top of mind and authoritative, where would you expect to be listed or referenced on the Internet? Are your competitors referenced there already?

The most powerful and credible links on the Internet are placed by individuals who have influence over your online target audience. Often, these are bloggers, editors, industry experts – those with numerous social media followers. Wouldn’t it be good to have an industry influencer who likes you and promotes your stuff by mentioning your business to his or her vast audience? In many cases, that’s the magic touch a business needs to step up to the next level.

Social media sites can be a great source for identifying these key individuals. They act as a virtual trade show, streamlining your ability to “meet” and build a relationship, and win them over to actually promote your ideas to their audience(s). If you’re in the sports industry, it’s kind of like having Michael Phelps or Tiger Woods (ahem) say good things about you. When this happens, you will have many new relationships, followers and links to your site.

Here are some of the keys to building relationships with influencers online.

  1. Know what the influencer likes or wants before you introduce yourself. The fastest way to get ignored by the influencer is to try to sell them your idea before they even know who you are. (Think spam filters). Instead, get involved in the group and listen to what’s being said. If it’s appropriate, provide interesting, thought-provoking comments or responses. Some influencers aren’t a bit shy and will tell you flat-out what they are looking for. If you possess what the influencer is looking for, it’s time to make your introduction.
  2. Introduce yourself by letting them know that you have something they might want and then give some details in a respectful way. Remember: you want to pique their interest, not bury them in details. If they’re interested, you’ll know it soon enough.
  3. Wait for their response. If they don’t respond in a reasonable timeframe, find another way to introduce yourself: phone calls often work, but it’s best to speak face-to-face.
  4. At this point, it’s assumed that you really do have what they want and that the influencer will act on it immediately. Otherwise, it’s back to step one again; in some cases, it’s over for your shot with that influencer.

In my industry of SEO professionals, getting in front of an influencer can be very tough, but I’ve done it several times by writing articles that deal with issues few others write about. In particular, I try to write articles that editors of well-known blogs will want to publish.

I recently contacted the editor of a popular blog because I learned that he was interested in good SEO articles. I provided a sample of my writing; he liked it and gave me access to his blog to post my next article.

A few weeks later when I posted my article in the drafts section, the editor liked it so much he asked if he could publish it in another blog he edited that was much more popular than the one I had already been approved for.

One thing that helped to get my article accepted involved closely reading and following all of the guidelines for guest blog posting. Don’t make an editor postpone your article because it didn’t meet one of the guidelines. I also used a professional copywriter to tweak the article after it was written. A professional can give your article that extra polish it needs to stand out – and get you noticed.

Within a few days of my article going live, my post was tweeted 15 times – by the editor as well as several other industry influencers – and I got some encouraging feedback in the comments section.

What about links? Not only did this blog post link to my site, but the post itself is linked from a few places, adding even more power to the links in the post.

For those of you who like to keep track, that initial successful relationship with an industry influencing blog editor yielded:

  • My name and business on 2 blogs aimed at my target audience
  • 15 tweets, and re-tweets from additional industry influencers
  • Several high-quality links to my website
  • Instant credibility within my industry (now I can boast a bit, “see my article on this respected industry blog”)
  • A new relationship with an industry influencer (to get more quality links to my site)
  • A foundation for building more relationships with influencers in my industry

Sure, it takes some work to figure out who’s who in your field, then to spend time with them socially, learning what they like (and want). But it can pay large dividends for your credibility and business.


Tom Shivers is an SEO consultant and president of Capture Commerce, Inc. – a professional SEO company focused on tailored Internet marketing since 2000.

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