Social media SEO seems to be thrown around, where most people don’t even know what it is. 

Social media SEO is not complicated but very misunderstood.

I’m here to help. 

I’ll answer the following questions: 

  • What is the relationship between social media and SEO? 
  • Should we focus on just one of them, or doing both will be more beneficial?

Social media for marketers requires that the marketer use social media for marketing strategy development. It’s part of the overall marketing plan and helps with reach and engagement.

Why social media marketing is important?

Social media marketing offers many benefits to the business, as it allows them to reach out to their customers and to gain the attention of more people/potential customers. Social media marketing enables businesses to get exposure, traffic and gain market insights.

In this guide, we will discuss all you need to know how social media marketing can affect SEO and vice versa. There will be six important aspects to discuss below, and so let us begin with the first one. 

1. Debunking The Myth: Is Social Link a Ranking Factor?

social media marketing

Here is where things can get confusing. Back in 2014, Matt Cutts (now ex-Google) mentioned that social signals (likes, number of followers, etc.) won’t affect search rankings. This statement contradicted his own previous video in 2010 where he said that social signals are also ranking signals. 

However, what about links shared on social media? Would it count as a legitimate backlink? On the same video (the former), Cutts mentioned that anything crawlable on a social media post might affect ranking—and links are crawlable—.

Several studies have also suggested that social links will affect ranking, for example, a 2018 experiment by HooteSuite and a similar 2019 research by OptinMonster agree that social links (and overall social performance) help with SEO ranking. 

 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others. Click To Tweet

So, how can we take advantage of this fact? There are several things we can focus on:

  • The best and most effective way is to post relevant, shareable content on your social media. This will also help your social media performance establishing your position as an expert/thought leader.
  • Build relationships with key influencers, engage with your loyal customers, and ask them to share your content around
  • Mention (or link) influencers in your content and let them know about it. Chances are, they will share the content with their followers. 

Remember, that mentions won’t affect your organic ranking unless they also include links. 

2. Social Mentions as Indirect Ranking Signals

seo marketing agency

Above, we have discussed how Google has confirmed that social mentions, along with other social signals, are not direct ranking signals. 

However, in 2017, Google’s Gary Illyes discussed the fact that Google, sometimes, might use social mentions to determine your ranking.

Illyes mentioned that a particular brand—or person— might be unrecognized by Google at first. However, when this entity is getting a lot of social mentions (for example, when one of your content went viral or when you just launched a popular product), Google can now recognize this brand or person and rank it.

78% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour. Click To Tweet

Also, the context of the social mentions matter. For example, if you’ve never targeted the keyword “social media marketing” in your previous SEO efforts, but you get a lot of social mentions together with “social media marketing”, Google will now consider your site as a contender for the keyword. 

It is, however, unclear whether this will also affect existing target keywords (i.e., if you already targeted “social media marketing” in the previous example). 

To summarize, yes, social mentions matter, so it’s important to build authentic followers and encourage them to talk about your brand. 

3. Build Social Partnerships To Build SEO Success

One of the key ranking signals for SEO is backlinks—both in quality and quantity—. However, nowadays, the quality of your inbound link is more important than quantity. In fact, getting too many backlinks from low-quality sites can get you penalized by Google.

However, getting backlinks from high-quality, relevant sites is often easier said than done, and this is how building relationships in social media can play its part.

Remember that the main purpose of social media is, well, being social. Strategic relationships in social media—in relations to SEO— can be divided into three different levels: 

  • Loyal Audience: build loyal followers that will engage with your brand. This has several key benefits discussed above: first, you can get more positive social mentions, and second, you get more people to link your content. 
  • Influencers: if you have healthy relationships with influencers in your industry, it’s possible to get their engagements and mentions spending nothing. Paid influencer marketing can be expensive nowadays, so building organic relationships with influencers is very important. Influencers can also provide (very) valuable mentions and links.
  • Partners: strategic relationships in social media can develop into beneficial partnerships with other businesses, influencers, or even customers-turned advocates. You can work with these partners to create engaging content together and build social media marketing and SEO results together.

Consider shifting your social media marketing strategy to relationship building. Create a list of accounts that you can build relationships with, starting from the very first stage above (loyal audience), until you can convert them into partners.

Answer their questions (even if it’s not directly to your business), provide useful tips, and publish valuable content for your target audience.

4. Social Media as a Search Engine

seo social media marketing

It’s important to consider the fact that the end goal of SEO is not about ranking higher on the SERP, it’s just a means to an end. The goal of SEO should get more people to consume your content (traffic), converting some of them into prospects, and convert them into actual, paying customers. 

With that being said, social media can also help you in achieving those goals, even if it doesn’t directly affect your SEO results. People nowadays don’t rely on Google (or Bing) to search for information, a lot of us also search social media networks to find what we are looking for. 

There are various ways to capitalize on this, depending on your niche and your branding. For example, you can publish engaging visual content (memes, infographics) and use hashtags to allow people to find them.

People might also look for a specific solution or even a product, and providing the information on your social media can let them stumble upon it.

Also, people are likely to check social media networks when they want to find out more information about your company. 

So, how can we take advantage of this? Build your social media presence, provide useful and engaging information, and organize everything well. Also, make sure it’s easy for people to recognize your valid brand account (delete duplicate accounts, report fake users, etc.).

5. Social Media Profiles as Important Branded Keywords Results

Branded keywords are search queries or keywords that include a brand name—or its variation— in it. 

Branded keywords are useful for specific user intents, for example, when they are already aware of your brand or your product/service, and want to check out your website. 

It’s important to note that while social signals might or might not affect your SEO ranking directly (as we’ve discussed above), social media profiles are (and should be) the top results for these branded keywords. Ideally, your social media profiles should be just below your brand’s main website. 

Media brands are the most active whereas business services, financial services, and fast moving consumer goods have the lowest percentage of brands represented on Instagram. Click To Tweet

So, even if you want to focus solely on SEO and not social media marketing, consider the fact that having a proper social media presence is important for these branded keywords.

At least, have one or two active social channels besides other marketing channels that will suit your brand (i.e., if you are a B2C company, have at least an Instagram account, if you are B2B, focus on LinkedIn, and so on). Give people an accessible and engaging way to know your brand. 

6. Social Media in The Future of SEO

It’s no secret that Google frequently changes its search and ranking algorithms. Yes, social signals might not be a direct ranking factor today (except social links), but it doesn’t mean it will always stay that way. 

Social media is here to stay, if not to become even bigger than what it already is today. Part of why Google doesn’t include social signals in its algorithm (directly) is the fact that several aspects of social media are still relatively unreliable (fake accounts hard to trace, false information, etc.). 

However, if the technologies surrounding social media are getting better soon, it’s possible Google will also find a way to include reliable social signals.

So, it’s always better to prepare ahead: build your social media presence to provide value for your human audience, so when the time comes, you can reap the results.

Create a Proven SEO Strategy in 3-Months

Learn what is an SEO strategy? How do I create an SEO plan? And how do I implement an SEO strategy?

Wrap-Up about Social Media SEO 

Social media impacts SEO, both directly and indirectly. A strong SEO manager can help our social media presence. So, we can see both as a positive symbiosis and should be the core of our digital marketing strategy. 

We’re listening.

Have something to say about your thoughts on Social Media SEO? 

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General FAQ’s

What is the relationship between social media and SEO? 

What Is the Relationship Between SEO and Social Media? It begins with content found by the search engines. That’s is why if you want to rank, you need excellent content marketing and social to amplify your content. SEO is about making sure that your digital activity improves your search engine ranking.

Is social media part of SEO?

Social media SEO refers to how social media activities can boost your website’s organic traffic through search engines. However, contrary to popular belief, social media doesn’t directly contribute to SEO. In other words, social signals don’t directly help rank better.

Does Facebook affect SEO?

Social Media and SEO go hand-in-hand. However, Facebook doesn’t have a direct connection to the major search engines in the sense that activity there has an immediate or direct impact on your rankings.


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