Social Media SEO: How to Rank Higher on Social Media & Google

Rachel Handley

Oct 10, 202310 min read
Social media and SEO


What Is Social Media SEO?

Social media SEO is optimizing your social media profiles and posts so more people discover your brand in search results. Both on social platforms and search engines.

For example, social SEO can help your video rank higher in YouTube results:

YouTube results for "best headphones for gaming"

And Google:

Google results for "best headphones for gaming"

Higher rankings can translate into more viewers, social engagements, and followers. And more sales.

How Social Media Affects SEO

Social media performance is not a Google ranking factor. 

Google doesn’t look at social signals (like followers, engagement rates, or shares) when ranking your website content.

Some studies show that pages with more social shares tend to rank higher in Google results. Just remember that this is correlation, not causation.

But if you want to improve your SEO, social media can benefit you indirectly:

  • Boost branded search: People who find and engage with your brand on social media are more likely to search for your brand on Google
  • Increase organic (unpaid) clicks: People who engage with your content on social media may be more likely to click on your results from Google searches
  • Establish authority: Social media can help you establish authority in your field. Google encourages creators to demonstrate Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).
  • Generate backlinks: Content that performs well on social media is more likely to be found and linked to. This can lead to backlinks (links on other websites that point to your site) that benefit your rankings.
  • Gather insights: Social media metrics and trends can inform your SEO strategy. For example, you can see which topics your audience likes best. Then write blog posts about them.
  • Drive on-site engagement: Social posts can drive traffic to your website. And the resulting engagements can benefit your SEO—as long as they’re relevant to the topic.
  • Improve local rankings: Gaining followers and positive reviews on social media may help your local business listing rank higher in Google’s map results.

Plus, social signals likely play a role in Bing SEO

Their webmaster guidelines warn against trying to artificially affect rankings using social media schemes. Which implies that social signals are at least somewhat important.

So, it’s well worth incorporating social media management into your SEO strategy. And applying SEO best practices to your social activity.

9 Best Platforms for Social Media SEO

Some social media platforms offer better SEO opportunities than others. (For reasons we’ll explore below.)

The right platform mix depends on your resources and goals. And your wider marketing strategy.

But to help you out, we’ve ranked the top nine platforms for using social media for SEO. 

Note: These rankings are based on which social media sites get the most organic traffic from Google’s top 10 results pages, according to Semrush Rank for desktop in the U.S. during September 2023.

1. YouTube

YouTube is one of the best platforms for social media SEO. Because YouTube videos often rank in Google results.

Plus, YouTube’s search function is extremely popular.

Let’s look at each factor in detail.

YouTube Videos Often Rank in Google Results

Google owns YouTube, so it’s no surprise that YouTube videos often rank in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs)—the pages that display results after a user enters a search term.

On September 25, 2023, over 30% of Google desktop SERPs in the U.S. featured a video carousel, video result, or featured video. According to Semrush Sensor.

Semrush Sensor's "SERP Features Occurrence" table

These videos typically come from YouTube.

For example, here’s a video pack for “best headphones for gaming”:

A video pack for “best headphones for gaming”

To find relevant keywords that trigger video results for Google searches, use Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool.

Enter a seed keyword (a broad word or phrase related to your business) to base your search around.

Then, choose your country and click “Search.”

"headphones" entered into Keyword Magic Tool search bar

Go to “Advanced filters” > “SERP Features.” 

Select “Video,” “Featured video,” and “Video carousel.” Then, click “Apply.”

Keyword Magic Tool's advanced filters

Optimizing videos around these keywords can help you rank higher in YouTube and Google. 

Filtered results for "headphones" in Keyword Magic Tool

Check out our video SEO and YouTube SEO guides to learn more.

Many people claim YouTube is the second largest search engine on the web. 

While this is debatable, search does play a significant role in content discovery on YouTube. Perhaps more so than on other platforms.

This means social media SEO can play a bigger role in your success.

To find out which videos people search for, perform YouTube keyword research

With Keyword Analytics for YouTube, you can find keywords related to your niche.

Try entering a seed keyword in the tool to identify some more specific terms you might want to target.

For each one, you can see the “Search Volume” (the number of searches over your chosen time range). And the “Competitive rate” (which indicates how difficult it’ll be to rank high).

"Top Keywords" section for "headphones"

Tip: Embed your YouTube videos into on-site content (where relevant) to add value and boost views.

2. X

The search function from X (formerly Twitter) allows users to find posts, profiles, photos, and videos:

X results for "NFL" search

Users can also explore trending topics:

"What's happening" section on X

Here are some social media SEO tips that can help your profile and posts rank higher specifically within X:

  • Try to secure an easily searchable username
  • Use relevant keywords in your bio
  • Choose a clear and descriptive username and display name
  • Regularly post about relevant topics
  • Use popular or trending hashtags in your posts
  • Interact with others to boost your engagements and followers
  • Monitor trending topics and add value where possible

Your profile and posts might even rank in Google results.

On September 25, 2023, 4.31% of desktop results in the U.S. featured an X carousel, according to Semrush Sensor.

This is a SERP feature that looks like this:

X carousel SERP feature

To maintain a strong X schedule, use Semrush’s Social Poster tool.

You can also use Social Tracker to monitor your competitors’ X activity. And get insights to guide your own strategy.

3. Instagram

Instagram is the most popular social media platform to search on, according to a Frontier survey.

So, if you’re doing SEO for social media, Instagram could be the best place to start.

To ensure your profile is easily findable, choose an appropriate username (or handle) and profile name.

And incorporate relevant keywords and locations into your bio.

Like this: 

Instagram profile for "pizzerialola"

When creating posts, consider including relevant keywords and hashtags in the caption.

(Adding them to the comments won’t help with search.)

Like this:

pizzerialola's Instagram post with caption and "#mondayspecial" hashtag

And edit your alternative text (called alt text for short)—the copy that describes your image to ensure people with visual impairments can understand it. This improves accessibility and helps with image SEO.

An example of an alt text added under cat image

It’s important to note that Instagram is more likely to serve your result if a user interacted with your account in the past. 

That means followers and engagements are important for social SEO and social media marketing on Instagram. 

This also applies on many other platforms. So, it’s helpful to experiment with different types of social media content. And see which ones audiences like best.

Tip: Use Semrush Social to schedule Instagram posts, analyze competitors, monitor messages, and much more.

4. Facebook

When users search Facebook, their results are influenced by their activity on the platform. And can be filtered by Posts, Videos, Marketplace, etc.

Facebook search results for "Barbie"

Familiarizing yourself with the various tools and formats can help you succeed in Facebook search. And improve engagement among your followers.

It’s also important to focus on building trust.

Facebook wants to distribute meaningful, informative, and accurate content. Posts that don’t comply with their guidelines may be suppressed or removed.

Tip: Use Semrush Social to schedule Facebook posts, analyze competitors, review analytics, and much more.

5. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional networking site. So, it’s especially popular among B2B (business-to-business) content marketers.

To maximize your company page’s reach through search, write a descriptive overview. And complete as many details as possible.

Like this:

Semrush's overview on LinkedIn

LinkedIn hasn’t confirmed how its search algorithm works. But following these LinkedIn best practices may help you rank higher: 

  • Experiment with different formats, such as videos and documents
  • Use targeting tools to narrow your posts’ audience
  • Respond to other people’s comments and posts
  • Monitor analytics to see which post types perform best

Tip: Use Semrush Social to schedule LinkedIn posts, review analytics, and much more.

6. Pinterest

Every month, 465 million people use Pinterest to find visual inspiration. Popular topics include fashion, interior design, food, beauty, and travel.

For example, here are the search results for “summer nails”:

Pinterest search results for “summer nails”

You can find trending keywords using Pinterest Trends.

Browse by interests, age, and more to find topics your audience cares about:

Pinterest Trends page in the US

Then, create engaging Pins that fit popular themes.

Here’s what you can do to maximize performance:

  • Post high-quality, visually compelling images in a vertical format
  • Choose informative and attractive thumbnails for videos
  • Encourage users to save your Pins and follow your account
  • Add useful descriptions, titles, and links to your Pins
  • Save your Pins to relevant boards
  • Publish content on a weekly basis

Your Pinterest content might even rank in Google.

Like this:

An example of Pinterest content, ranking in Google for "outfit ideas"

Tip: Use Social Tracker to compare your Pinterest metrics to your competitors’ metrics. You can also schedule Pinterest content with the Social Poster.

7. Reddit

Reddit is an online platform that houses tons of different communities. Users can subscribe to and post in these communities, which are called subreddits (e.g., “r/gaming”).

The site received 243.4 million organic visits from search engines in September 2023, according to Domain Overview.

Domain Overview results for Reddit

And many people include “reddit” in their Google search queries. Because the platform has a reputation for helpful content.

In fact, 37.1% of Reddit’s organic traffic comes from branded searches.

"Branded vs Non-Branded Traffic" section of the report for Reddit

So, Reddit can make a great addition to your social media SEO strategy.

But tread carefully. Reddit users are generally skeptical of branded accounts and content. 

To earn attention on Reddit (and Google), you must add genuinely valuable posts or comments.

Check out our guide to learn more about marketing on Reddit.

8. TikTok

Gen Z tends to use TikTok as a search engine.

At a tech conference, Google’s Prabhakar Raghavan said (as reported by TechCrunch):

In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.

So, if you’re targeting younger audiences, TikTok could be a valuable addition to your social media and SEO strategy.

Browse trending hashtags, songs, creators, and videos in TikTok’s Creative Center:

TikTok’s Creative Center (in the US)

And review trending effects in the app:

TikTok’s trending effects in the app

You can use these insights to plan your next video. 

Try to incorporate keywords via the following elements (this might help TikTok determine what your video is about and match it with relevant users):

  • On-screen text
  • Voice-over (and closed captions)
  • Video captions (including hashtags)

For example, this video ranked as one of the top results when we searched “NYC Brunch”:

TikTok’s video titled “NYC Brunch A Guide"

Tip: Learn about your target audience with Semrush’s One2Target tool. Enter up to 100 competitors to see their users’ ages, income levels, most visited social media platforms, and more.

9. Quora

Quora is a platform that allows users to ask questions and give answers.

And the site ranked in Google’s top three organic positions for almost 1.3 million keywords in the U.S. during September 2023. (According to Semrush’s Organic Research tool.)

For example, the site ranked third for “how to fix running toilet” (2,900 searches per month): 

Quora's page ranking third for “how to fix running toilet” in Google

Given the prominent position in search results, many people are likely to click through. And see the answers listed within the platform.

So, finding relevant questions on Quora and adding helpful answers could help you gain visibility.

Just make sure to use a company account. And even share your company’s content. Without being overly self-promotional.

How to Integrate SEO and Social Media

An integrated approach to SEO and social media marketing helps maximize results from both.

Here are some quick tips to help you succeed:

  • Link to your site from your social profiles (and vice versa)
  • Repurpose website content for social media (and vice versa)
  • Where relevant, link to your site from your social posts
  • Add social sharing buttons to website content
  • Maintain consistent branding across your site and social platforms
  • Cover similar topics on your site and social platforms—but tailor them for the specific platform to meet the audience’s expectations
  • Include copy that contextualizes social images and videos to help search engines understand their contents
  • Use relevant keywords and hashtags in your social posts
  • Verify your social accounts to build trust (plus, Google is more likely to display social links in your Google Business Profile if the accounts are verified)
  • If your brand has a knowledge panel, submit feedback for any missing or incorrect social links

Check out our guide for more advice on building a social media content strategy.

Streamline Your Social Media SEO Strategy

Social media SEO has lots of potential. But it can take lots of work and organization.

To improve your efficiency, take advantage of Semrush Social.

It includes the following tools:

  • Social Poster: Plan and schedule social posts across six platforms
  • Social Tracker: Compare your social activity and metrics against your competitors’
  • Social Analytics: See detailed metrics from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram
  • Social Inbox: Manage messages from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram
Author Photo
Rachel has been a digital marketer for over 11 years. Having worked both in-house and agency-side, she has a wide range of experiences to draw on in her writing. She specializes in creating beginner-friendly articles on topics including keyword research, on-page SEO, and content creation.
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