For those of us that do influencer marketing and blogger outreach, we deal with bloggers on a daily basis and like everything; there are those that are genuine and truly care about their subject, and those that have seen an opportunity to get free stuff and/or make easy money. Fortunately, these are becoming less and less common, but how do you tell which is which?
Well this post will give you a rundown of what you should be looking for, some tools you can use to help you and some general advice as to how to communicate with each other. Remember, this is not about getting all you can out of a blogger, it’s about how to form a relationship with someone who you can genuinely engage with and can become an advocate of your brand. It’s always a two-way street.
How do I tell if a blog is ‘good’?
First things first, this post is primarily concerned with blogger outreach and influencer marketing as an arm of PR, not just linkbuilding. If you’re offering compensation of any sort then you must no-follow the link.
Now, there are a number of things to look at when you’re looking through a blog in order to get an idea of what they write about, what they like, what their readers/followers like and whether or not your offering is likely to work. First we’ll deal with the basics (bear in mind these will change in importance according to your own priorities):
- Traffic – This is likely to be very important to most people. The best way to find out traffic levels to a site is simply to ask the site owner. Most, if not all genuine bloggers and site owners will have a media pack; if they refuse or fob you off, treat this as a red flag. A tool such as SimilarWeb is a reasonably accurate way of ascertaining a site’s traffic. Don’t take it as gospel, but it’s accurate enough to get a ‘second opinion’.
- Interaction – Read their blog posts, do they get interaction and comments from their audience? Blog comments in particular can be a great way of seeing if their audience is engaged and active – and therefore legitimate.
Do they talk about other blogs and bloggers in their content? If they do (and it seems genuine) this is also often a good sign that they are part of an engaged community.
- Social followings – Examine their social profiles. Look at the overall numbers but also pay attention to who and how many people are interacting. Are there conversations happening? Are people liking and sharing? It’s normal that people will often have one social platform that is much more important to them than the others but you are looking for decent interaction across all of them. Don’t just look at the numbers – the less reputable sites may often have multiple profiles and other sites that they use to interact. If it’s always the same few people appearing on posts, look elsewhere. Also, high follower numbers but low engagement can be a sign that these followers aren’t real.
- Content – In this point it’s easier to tell you what red flags you should look for rather than what makes it ‘good’. We’ll cover that in a later point. Although they’re becoming a rare breed, there are still a number of sites out there that exist purely as guest posting/sponsored post/link farms and these should be avoided. There are a number of ways to spot these
- Does the blog have an overriding theme to its content? Most legitimate blogs do, and it’s often obvious what that is.
- Are there lots of random ‘Top 10’ type posts on different subjects? These can be great pieces of content but they need to fit the overall theme of the site and you shouldn’t be surprised to see them on a site.
- Do the posts contain links to keyword rich anchor text? For example “…some people would say that cheap high quality wood effect double glazing is the best choice for…” Bonus points if they’re for completely unrelated companies; I once saw a link for a furniture company in an article about holidaying in Spain.
- Are there lots of guest posts? While guest posts are still not intrinsically bad, they have been massively overused by SEO companies in the last 5 years or so. Any site that has a lot of these is at best, low quality and at worst, may be liable to a penalty from Google in the future.
- Are there lots of stock photos? Many sites that don’t actually ‘do’ the things they blog about will be forced to rely on stock images to fill their posts. Legitimate bloggers nearly always take all of their own photos and videos or create images themselves.
It’s important to note that finding one of these points on its own is not a deal breaker, but if you see many of them, it’s best to look elsewhere.
So far I’ve largely told you what to look for to eliminate a blog or blogger from your search but it’s all been a bit negative. It’s perhaps even more important to work out what you should be looking for and doing to ensure you can forge meaningful, beneficial and lasting relationships.
Improving your blogger outreach and influencer marketing
Improving your blogger outreach doesn’t have to be hard, my main piece of advice is to remember that you’re dealing with another human. People are generally very reasonable and want to work on things that are mutually beneficial. So what can you do?
- Find a blogger that really fits with your brand – there are bloggers in almost every niche and you should be able to find those that fit your brand. Read their posts and social profiles to determine if they’ll fit with you. Do they accept products for review for example? And if so, have they used similar products to yours in the past? If you’re a hip, young fashion label then a blogger who focuses on vintage fashion may not be the best fit. Buzzsumo is one of our favourite tools for finding people who have already written about things that are suitable for your audience. You can also find social profiles and contact details here.
- Be polite and upfront – This sounds obvious but be friendly and don’t beat around the bush. Sell your idea of course, but it’s best to frame exactly what you’re looking for from the collaboration. This way, the blogger will be able to make an informed decision or come back with suggestions. This approach also helps to ensure there are no crossed wires when it comes to any coverage being put live. It’s also worth trying to put an agreed deadline in place.
- Listen to bloggers’ advice – be open to changing your approach based on what they think will work. They will know their audience better than you and will be able to tell you what they’ve done in the past that has and hasn’t worked. Again, blogger outreach is about creating something that is mutually beneficial.
- Make their life easy (and exclusive) – give bloggers any info you may have about your products or services that can make their lives easier. This could be press releases, product descriptions, user guides etc. It also ensures that any information is accurate.Similarly, if you have any exclusives you can offer them then consider this. Maybe you could invite them to a product launch? Allow them to share and promote videos before anyone else? This could even just be giving them access to a product or service before the general public has access.
Fundamentally working with bloggers is about being open, friendly, willing to compromise somewhat and also having something important to offer them. In return, you can work with people who are passionate, knowledgeable and relatable. Bloggers and influencers are valuable people and they need to be treated as such, it’s just important that you avoid those that are in it for the wrong reasons.
We’d love to hear some of your advice on blogger outreach so leave a comment or tweet us @sitevisibility. Alternatively, if you’d like to read how we put Vax.co.uk products in front of over 100,000 engaged users then click the banner below to read our Vax Case Study.