Effects of Social Media on SEO

Jun 26 · 8 min read

With as many as 4.8 billion people now using the internet and 3.5 billion on social media, using the digital ecosystem for marketing has to be a primary business focus. Beyond, that much of the time people spend online is done via mobile devices as shown in the graphic below from Hootsuite.

50% of the time (almost 2 hours per day) that people are using social media via mobile shouldn’t be underestimated by marketers. As well as following brands, celebrities, and news on their favorite platforms, consumers are adding rich content across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Every conversation or post creates something new.

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The good news for digital marketing teams is that whilst follows, likes and shares do not correlate directly with search engine optimization (SEO), good quality content does. For example, pushing out content on social media that people want to engage in and explore improves the chances that they make it to your website. Overall, this leads to assisting off-page SEO, better domain authority, backlinks, and generating followers. Suddenly, you have attributes that will improve your ranking.

In this article, we will look deeper into how social media correlates with SEO and what brands can do to effectively succeed.

Social Media, Traffic and SEO

Social media helps to improve your brand visibility, supporting the SEO efforts that drive traffic to your website. With digital marketing, the more channels you are visible on, the greater the potential to get traffic and revenue. At face value, if you have a conversion rate of 10% and 200 people are visiting your site, you get 20 sales. If you have 500 visits, you are going to get 50 sales. It may not be that straightforward but the point here is that traffic equates to revenue.

Social media can play a big part in generating traffic. As a starting point, the screenshot below shows the results if we search for entrepreneur Elon Musk via Google.

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It is clear that Google is crawling social media for results as Elon Musk’s Twitter feed and Instagram profile are both returned with the latest stories against them.

The same logic applies to brands with a search for boohoo returning their Twitter feed on the very first page of Google search results.

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Other brands such as Simply Cook have their YouTube videos, LinkedIn profile, and Facebook page all showing on page one of Google rankings.

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We could probably go on all day with examples, but the fact is that Google scans social media content and ranks it. Therefore, you should treat the content on your pages in exactly the same way as your website or blog, as a method of SEO to accumulate traffic.

Social Signals and SEO

A social signal is a human interaction metric gained via platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Reddit (as well as countless other social media sites available today). This includes likes, dislikes, comments, shares, and follows which tend to represent affiliation to a brand whether it be positive or negative.

As more consumers have joined the multitude of social media channels, social signals have become an important part of organic search engine rankings. Whilst Google has said that social signals are not a direct part of their ranking algorithm, those websites showing on page one tend to be those with the highest share volume. The research from Cognitive SEO below shows the link between social interactions and rank.

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If there is no direct link between then it is fair to assume the following:

  • Brands and people with a high volume of social signals are generating more traffic to their pages due to higher visibility
  • With a lot of social interactions, more content is generated and likely to build backlinks which are very effective for SEO.

On that basis, it is vital to keep social media content relevant and up to date. Readers and interested in quality content and if that’s what they see, they will interact with it.

Social signals create traffic to your site, consumers see something they like and create links. Even if social signals themselves are not part of a tiny weighting in Google algorithms, the long-term impacts of backlinks and domain authority are vital for SEO.

Some ways that you can ensure you stay at the top of social media feeds include:

  • Posting daily or even multiple times per day to keep relevant. The volume should relate to what you feel is applicable to your brand. Some celebrities might post constantly but consumers wouldn’t expect that from a construction or engineering company perhaps.
  • Using video and images which are engaging for social media users
  • Creating original content and not simply sharing articles that already exist which would ultimately just improve the visibility of somebody else.
  • Varying content between social media platforms. Users expect to see different voices and tones depending on the platform they are viewing.

The search algorithms of Google, Bing, and other engines are black boxes in that nobody is 100% certain as to what helps with ranking. However, with the amount of content generated by social media today and the interaction people have with it, evidence suggests that the platforms create valuable SEO content. Whilst that may come indirectly via backlinks, social signals are an important part of digital marketing strategy.

Social Content Reach and SEO

Social media helps your content reach as many people as possible. This includes those who may not have ever realized you exist before appearing on their social media news feed. Strong content will translate into high-quality traffic.

Research conducted by Matthew Woodward showed the value of social media when trying to rank for specific keywords, in this case, “Unhealthiest Foods.” In short, the post was shared on social media and got the backing of celebrity George Takei, generating 16,000+ likes and 8,000+ shares. Shortly after, the post got a featured snippet for the keyword in search engine rankings (see the screenshot below).

This follows on from what we believe of the impact social signals have. The high volume of shares and likes create a following and advocacy for content. With that, organic rankings receive a boost thanks to the quality content.

It is also important to bear in mind that whilst the current Google algorithm states it does not take into account social signals, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will stay the same. After partnering with Twitter back in 2015, signals were used for a period. Always keep an eye out on the news to see what the search engine powerhouses consider the most important ranking factors.

Source: Matthew Woodward

Social Media and Keywords

To maximize the effectiveness of social media content, just like traditional SEO, keyword research is vital to attract the right audience. Neil Patel has suggested that social media is “the new SEO” in his article. What he means is that consumers are going straight to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn to find what they need and skipping the search engine completely. Therefore, it is just as important that brands and people optimize their social profile with content and keywords as it is for business websites.

There isn’t necessarily the best social media platform to use for SEO as they all have their advantages. The key is in doing thorough research and working out where your target audience goes to consume social media.


The stats tend to vary depending on where you read them, but Facebook has something close to 2 billion monthly users. All of these people will be sharing content with each other. With Facebook, you can target user interests at a very granular level. You can think of this in the same way as you would keywords. For example, what type of person based on their demographics is likely to be interested in your product and service. If you can tailor your marketing efforts to those groups, the content will be read, liked, and shared more readily.


YouTube isn’t far off Facebook where it comes to monthly users as video creates highly engaging content. Videos posted on YouTube certainly have some bearing on ranking as the most popular ones tend to appear at the very top of search engine rankings.

To optimize your SEO via YouTube, it is important to have clear descriptions and tags against all content that you add. A key component comes in harnessing the power of your video text with transcripts, closed captions, and subtitles.

It is important to remember that Google owns YouTube, making it far more likely to crawl the platform within their algorithms. Creating popular content ensures the videos and therefore the text is shared, generating links and optimizing SEO.


Twitter hashtags are used in all kinds of marketing to generate awareness of brands, people, and content. We have already seen earlier in this article that Tweets appear in Google searches, leading to the assumption that it does still crawl the platform and it counts towards SEO. A quick search for the US President brings up the most recent Tweets at the top of search results.

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To make the most of this, having a presence on Twitter is key to start. Following that, just like any other form of SEO, it’s all about the keywords. You will most likely have done keyword research for your website or blog and Twitter content needs to follow the same process. It is vital you don’t just haphazardly Tweet links that are not relevant. Ensure they relate to quality content and draw engagement from the audience.

Twitter has various analytics tools to help you with keywords and understanding your audience.


This article is designed to provide ideas as to how social media can be used to influence search engine optimization. There are many social platforms in the digital ecosystem and the key is in finding where your audience is and focusing your efforts there. Whilst creating content marketing on every platform is ideal, you sometimes need to step back and be realistic.

The key to optimizing SEO via social media is quality content. There is evidence that Google uses some social signals in their algorithms, but the best results will come from those who engage with your posts. Billions of people can find you on social media, become advocates of your brand or business, and get your content seen. It’s a bit like a modern-day version of a pyramid scheme.

Social media positively affects SEO and is a crucial part of your digital marketing strategy.

> First appeared on Effects of Social Media on SEO


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