Social media for SEO: The definitive guide

Social media for SEO is a popular subject among digital marketers.

Social media has become really huge these past years and boasts of billions of users from around the world. But what does this do for SEO? Does it in anyway negate SEO efforts or is it a direct line to topping Google SERP?

This definitive guide gives satisfactory answers to the WHYs and HOWs of the subject.

The short answer is yes, it does.

But Matt Cutts of Google says in his video that social signal metrics do not affect search rankings.

You must be thinking “who the hell is this guy (me) to counter the direct words from Google?”

Firstly I’m not challenging anyone here — not really.

Secondly, it’s not just me. Even Neil Patel of quicksprout thinks here that social media affects SEO, and he is kind of a big deal too.

So what’s the long answer?

Betsy Mcleod simplifies the relationship between social media and SEO as “… an alley-oop in basketball, where social lobs the ball and SEO dunks it”

And I completely agree with her.

SEO is all about getting found. The most popular things that we heard about these past years are those that went viral on social media.

Marketing and advertising are about reaching out to as many persons as possible, and while this effort brings traffic to your website, you gain visibility and get recognized by search engines. Now tell me, where else can you easily get access to over 3 billion users online if not on social media?

And social media does even more.

There is a clear distinction between authority and popularity. While it’s true that popularity comes with authority, it’s not always the same the other way round.

If you are good in your space (niche), and anything you say is gold, your contents will more than likely get a lot of shares. These shares translate to inbound links and credibility, and search engine loves those.

When you shop online don’t you always want to opt for the products with the best reviews and lots of it too?

Google is the same way too.

After the ads, here’s what Google showed me when I typed “social media agencies in New York”

Moz reveals that reviews account for 13% and 7% of local and general searches respectively.

And guess what — Google pulls these reviews from social media sites.

So yes social media does affect SEO, maybe not in the way you would expect, but it does.

Why social media is so important for SEO too

SEO has been around for a really long time and social media is relatively new to the scheme of things, but your SEO strategy is incomplete without social media, and here’s why:

When we hear about search engines, we think about Google, Bing, and Yahoo, but do you know that Facebook and and other social media platforms are search engines too?

Lemme explain…

“Search engines are programs that search documents for specified keywords and return a list of the documents where the keywords were found.” These are words from webopedia and I’m sure there’s no argument here.

If that’s the case then most social media platforms fit the profile.

If you need to get the latest about a TV show and even better, quickly see what persons across the world are saying about it, a quick search on Twitter would do the trick.

The other day I type in “Gucci shoes” on my Facebook search box and I got these results:

It’s not just shoes. News, people, and most other things that are searched on conventional search engines are searched on facebook every day.

“The growing way that people use search is to find what people are saying about a topic across more than 2.5 trillion posts. Now people are doing more than 2 billion searches a day between looking up people, businesses, and other things they care about.” Mark Zuckerberg revealed sometime in 2016.

Whereas Bing which is the ‘second largest’ search engine in the world, records only about 900 million daily searches which should really put Facebook as second only to Google.

Source: Smartinsights

Only recently I came across an article that was shared on Facebook and because I really enjoyed it I clicked on to the homepage of the blog site for more enjoyable blogs.

A quick check of the homepage showed that the particular blog post was nowhere around the first few pages of the website which means that it probably had been posted a long time ago, but I still found it.

Of course, unless you delete your contents or your site is removed from the web, your content is already for life but who’s gonna know see it after a while?

Hell, it will be crazy to repost a full blog that is already on your website after some time, but you can re-share on social media whenever you want to, and so your content stays alive for as long.

SEO of old was mostly about aggressively building of links. Then the sites will the highest number of relevant links topped Google SERP, but those days are long gone.

Now Google is a lover of organic links and frowns at aggressive link building. Social shares provide links, the type Google loves, and this helps to build real and natural links without being penalized by Google.

Is social media an alternative to other SEO methods?

It depends on you.

But here’s my 2 cents:

Before now, your website was only as good as its SEO efforts; link building and ranking keywords, so that such website would be well placed on Google SERP.

Social media has broken this norm but does that mean that traditional SEO is dead?

Not in my opinion.

“SEO, social, content development, PPC [Pay Per Click advertising], they all need to work together,” head of Reprise Media, Craig Lister, said at a seminar organized by The Guardian.

There is never a stage you would attain where you wouldn’t need to allocate your time/resources to paid adverts, and just in the same way, you will always need a full proof content marketing plan, engagements and all the juicy stuff that social media offer, and SEO.

Bottom-line is that you would do better leveraging all the strategies at your disposal rather than going with a selected few.

How to use SEO data in your social media strategy

So social media is the holy grail for businesses, it is crucial for authority branding, yada, yada, yada. But a costly mistake that a lot of persons make is ignoring SEO in their social media strategy.

Here’s why I say so.

SEO needs social media just as much as social media needs it.

Social media is very broad so if you don’t want to burn out your whole budget with only little to show for it, then you need to get into more specifics like who your target audience is, what are they searching for, the keywords they use, the sites they visit, and more.

SEO data provide this information.

But how exactly do you get this info, and more importantly, how do you use them?

When you know what your audience is searching for, all that is left is to know how they are searching for it, and you are set.

Twitter advanced search is one of the tools that help you to learn more about your audience including how they use #hashtags and phrases.

When you have a lockdown on these keywords, you can keep track on them by manually doing daily searches across various social media platforms, or by using a tool like mention.

For example, #dronestagram in the screenshot below is monitored using mention.

You competitor is probably already using the strategy that would make your campaign, and there’s no harm in taking a peek. Trust me they will do the same without another thought if the tables were turned.

You don’t need to replicate every single thing that they do, research and analyze their contents and social strategies, polish and implement.

SE ranking competitor’s research tool is a great example of one that helps you find the best contents of your competitors, and where they are thriving.

Our dear old Google keep changing tactics which makes it difficult for us to use the same SEO/social strategies for a very long time without have to tweak them, but Google has provided a lifeline in Google trends that tell us the most popular topics at a particular period, and with this we can tailor our social efforts better.

Seasoned digital marketers and social media experts make predictions that are mostly almost accurate. It will only pay to listen to such predictions and incorporate them into your social plan.

Sometimes we get carried away while writing a really great content and then the keyword isn’t so much of a keyword anymore.

An SEO auditing tool like Yoast SEO would keep your SEO in check while ensuring that you still write an awesome article.

10 social media tools to help improve your social results and search ranking

  1. Yoast SEO — Helps to optimize your content
  2. Twitter advanced search — Helps to find latest keywords, popular hashtags, and phrases quickly
  3. Mention — Helps to monitor keywords
  4. SE Ranking — Helps to monitor and analyze competitors
  5. Google trends — shows latest trends around the world
  6. Keywordspy — Tells you the keywords your competitors are using
  7. Socialmention — Tracks what is said about you on social media
  8. Searchmetrics Essentials — An SEO and social research tool that tracks ranking, research keywords and backlinks
  9. — Publish contents from RSS feed on social media channels
  10. Socialenhancer (in beta testing) — Automatically reply to tweets based on keywords

Quick tips for social media for SEO success in 2018

2018 promises more breakthrough in the digital marketing space, and social media and SEO will play a vital role.

Here’re some quick tips to get you running:

If you are already putting the fair effort into your social media strategy to boost your SEO chances, keep at it, despite what Matt Cutts says.

Who knows, Google might change their mind, again.

I filmed a video back in May 2010 where I said that we didn’t use that as a signal, and at the time, we did not use that as a signal, but now, we’re taping this in December 2010, and we are using that as a signal.

Matt said back in 2010.

In 2015 Google and Twitter realized that they needed each other, so they struck a deal wherein Google were given semi-exclusive access to Twitter’s ‘firehose’.

In English, Google SERP will now more than likely feature popular tweets/users for real-time and trending news.

My two cents: create a twitter account right now if you don’t already have one. If you have already been using Twitter for your social-SEO effort, double triple your effort.

Lately, hashtags have been killing it as far as keywords go and 2018 promises to be even better.

Whether it is on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, hashtags make your content more findable which will certainly boost your rank.

Some internet marketers preach ‘quantity doesn’t matter; quality does’.

They are so wrong.

Quality matters, quantity matters too. Click To Tweet

We have already established that social shares matter, therefore the more followers you have, the better chances your content have at getting shared, and that’s a huge plus for link building.

Still, the number of social followers you have is a factor for when Google determines your algorithmic authority.

Final words

If you are serious about marketing and online visibility then SEO is a huge deal for you, and so is social media. Together they amplify each other.

Social media is itself turning into a powerful search engine and you can get away with doing one without the other. But why take just the milk when you can have the cow?

Originally published at on January 1, 2018.