Social media SEO involves reaching people who are scrolling (and searching) with keywords, links, accessibility, and optimization. Learn how to sharpen your social SEO so it cuts through the competition.

Here, you’ll find:

Ever wonder if social media profiles are searchable on Google? You bet they are. 

Social platforms are go-to search engines for over 30% of people.  So, it’s no surprise that social media SEO has entered the digital marketing chat.

Social media channels now lean into SEO and enhance their search features for better results. The only question is, how do you fortify your brand’s social media presence with social SEO?

We caught up with HawkSEM’s Senior Paid Social Media Manager, Nicole Goodnough, who shares insider knowledge on social media SEO. We also break down a few channel-specific best practices for ROI and rankings.

Ready to tie social media SEO into your marketing strategy? Keep reading.

girl sitting outside on her smartphone

Consumers have learned to search social media platforms for DIY home reno projects, health and wellness tips, or new places to eat that fit their dietary needs. (Image: Rawpixel)

 What is social SEO?

Social media SEO refers to the search engine optimization of social media content. It’s the practice of maintaining your social media profiles and posting relevant, high-quality content that makes it easier for target audiences to find your business.

Goodnough elaborates:

“More and more social media users are leveraging social as a search engine, so marketing professionals should start treating it that way,” says Goodnough.

Not long ago, most people leisurely scrolled through their feeds to entertain themselves with hilarious cat pics, memes, and fun videos. But now? 

Goodnough says the boom of social ecommerce and influencer marketing has shifted the tides of social media yet again. The tipping point? People use social channels to find products and services. 

Good news for modern brands!

 Why is social media SEO important?

HubSpot shares that younger generations (like Millennials, Gen-Z, and Gen-Alpha) are particularly keen on social media for searching. 

As these age groups gain independence, their buying power continues to grow. And if you want to tap into this audience that makes up nearly half of all ecommerce customers? You need a solid social media SEO game plan to grow your brand’s following, boost website traffic, and drive revenue.

Bottom line? It’s time to get on board with social SEO or risk falling behind. We’re here to help you avoid the latter.

 8 ways to enhance your social media SEO

  1. Define KPIs for social media SEO
  2. Keyword research for social media SEO
  3. Harness links in your social media profiles
  4. Infuse local SEO into your social media marketing
  5. Don’t mix social media SEO rules with content norms
  6. Optimize every piece of content
  7. Engage with your audience and similar accounts 
  8. Make your video content more accessible

Just as SEO professionals continuously optimize web content to improve rankings, traffic, and conversions, brands must do the same with social media content. 

As for choosing which social media channels work best for your brand? Goodnough suggests you start with audience research:

Who buys your product? What type of people already engage with your content? What platform are they already on?,” Goodnough asks. “Go where your people are and move up from there.”

Once you’ve homed in on your ideal mediums, you can kick off your social media SEO strategy with the following tactics.

woman using tablet at a table

Social SEO can help get your content and brand in front of new customers and re-engage existing ones. (Image: Rawpixel)

 1. Define KPIs for social media SEO

You can’t track your social SEO marketing efforts without defining measurable goals. These are your key performance indicators (KPIs).

But Goodnough says you can’t get hung up on just reach and likes.

“You can measure social SEO success by tracking site traffic and conversions from organic social, conducting social listening, tracking mentions and sentiment, and creating reports to analyze discovery metrics,” says Goodnough.

Semrush shares some insights on those discovery metrics: 

  • Visibility (impressions, views, post reach, follower count, and audience growth rate)
  • Engagement (social signals, comments, social shares, saves, and average engagement rate)
  • Conversions (click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, cost per click (CPC), and sales revenue)
  • Customer satisfaction (review ratings and customer satisfaction (CSAT) score)
  • Share of voice (brand mentions and branded hashtags)

Do you want better rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs)? More conversions? Brand awareness? Organic traffic? Get clear on what it is you want to achieve and use that to establish your KPIs.

Not sure where to find or keep all that data? We got you. Our proprietary tech ConversionIQ keeps your data analytics in one easy-to-access dashboard.

“ConversionIQ can integrate with Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and our clients’ CRMs to determine how organic social media and social SEO efforts help drive your bottom line,” explains Goodnough.

Goals and data management? Check. Now for some keyword research.

 2. Keyword research for social media SEO

When you include relevant keywords in your social content, you increase its chances of appearing in search results. But where the heck do you find keywords?

If you’ve got business profiles on your social media accounts, then it shouldn’t be too hard. 

Almost every social media site gives business accounts analytics tools (like Facebook’s Audience Targeting or LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions) that offer valuable insights into campaign performance, key metrics, creative inspo, and paid search optimization features.

Goodnough gives us the lowdown on some of her favs:

  • Instagram offers search suggestions based on user behavior and trending content
  • TikTok has a keyword tool in their Creative Center for organic and paid content.
  • Pinterest has a dashboard for trends
  • Reddit is its own little (or big) universe with searchable subreddits and users
  • LinkedIn added an ad library in Fall 2023 where you can search by keyword

“All these tools and features are the platforms developing resources to lean into user behavior in recent years as searches are pivoting from Google to social media,” says Goodnough.

Search functions also help you for find relevant keywords:

  • Type relevant terms into the search function and explore trending posts
  • Analyze the hashtags, as well as common themes and phrasing on similar posts

Keyword integration

As for how to incorporate keywords, Goodnough suggests sprinkling them into your captions—not in the comments

She also recommends you say keywords in your video content. This helps platforms know what your content is about, thanks to video transcriptions and closed captions (more on this later).

But tread keyword usage carefully. You never want to sacrifice authenticity or sound too robotic.

“There’s a tricky line we have to walk to include enough keywords to be discovered while also remaining authentic and relatable,” explains Goodnough. “Don’t fall into a pattern of ‘keyword stuffing’ or using the same 25 hashtags in one big paragraph over and over again.”

Got it. What about link-building?

 3. Harness links in your social media profiles

Like standard SEO, content that performs well on social media has a higher chance of being discovered and linked to. This helps you land more backlinks (links from other sites pointing to yours). 

Backlinks signal to search engines that your social content is valuable and worth ranking highly.

The more backlinks your social media accounts receive, the more trustworthy search engines perceive them to be. But it’s not just about being linked to

“Share links to your site,” says Goodnough. “Social might have its own SEO best practices, but it can also play a pivotal role in your site’s SEO strategy.”

First, your bios: Think of these as a virtual business card that previews what your brand is all about. Include your company details, phone number, address (if you’ve got a physical location), and, of course, links to relevant web pages on your brand’s site.

Then there are your social media posts. Depending on which platforms you’re working with, you may or may not be able to include clickable links in your posts and captions. For instance, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn will let you, but Instagram and TikTok won’t.

For the latter two, include a call to action (CTA) in your captions that direct audiences to related links in your bio. HootSuite tested this tactic and found that Instagram pages that did this saw a 15-30% bump in engagement.

Got a brick-and-mortar store? Use your socials to bolster local SEO.

 4. Infuse local SEO into your social media marketing

There are a few ways that social media can help with local SEO.

First, you should share your Google Business Profile page on your socials (given you’ve already set it up). This lets you manage your local business’s appearance on Google products, like Maps and Search.

The more followers and positive reviews you get on social media, the higher Google ranks your local brand in their map results.

Your next step?

 ”If you have local products or services, don’t forget to check in and use location tagging,” advises Goodnough. 

To do this, you’ll need to create location tags for your business across your social media profiles. You didn’t think we’d leave you hanging, right?

Here are the steps for each platform:


  1. In the Facebook app, tap “What’s on your mind”
  2. Then, “Check In” (make sure your device allows location sharing)
  3. Search for your desired location and scroll down to “Add”
  4. Fill out details (like name, address, etc.) and make sure the pin is in the right spot
  5. Tap “Save Custom Place”


  1. In the app, tap “Profile”
  2. Then “Edit Profile”
  3. Scroll down and tap “Business Info”
  4. Tap “Address” in the Business Info section
  5. Fill out your business address and location details
  6. Tap “Save”
  7. TikTok may ask you to verify your business. Follow their instructions to complete the verification process.


LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to geotag your posts. However, you can add your business address to your profile.

  1. On your Company Page, go to “Locations”
  2. Click “Add” or “Edit”
  3. If you have multiple locations, add each by clicking the “Add a location” link at the top
  4. Tap “Save”


Currently, YouTube doesn’t allow custom location creation. You can only tag locations that already exist in their database. The platform typically pulls these locations from Google Maps.

If you accurately set up your Google My Business page, the location tag should appear as an option when publishing any YouTube videos.

X (formerly Twitter)

As of March 2023, X has removed access to their location-data firm Foursquare’s platform, meaning you can no longer tag specific places in a tweet. However, you can display your company address with a Professional account (which is free, by the way).

Switch to a professional profile and then:

  1. You can edit your Location Spotlight by tapping “Professional Spotlight” then “Edit”
  2. Add or update your business address details
  3. Tap “Save”

 5. Don’t mix social media SEO rules with content norms

Be careful not to apply the same rules to every social media profile. While some rules may hold up for content, Goodnough argues this isn’t always the case with social SEO.

According to her, it’s more important to take these strategies (such as keywords and other social SEO best practices) and incorporate them consistently across all relevant platforms. But that doesn’t mean you can get away with duplicate content.

She also reminds us that social platforms reward originality. Meaning? You can’t repeatedly post the same photo with the same caption to advertise an event.

“Crop the photo differently, add some text on the image, jazz up the caption a little each time,” says Goodnough. “My tip that I always share to write engaging, authentic content is to read your caption aloud. If it sounds like you’re reading, change it.”

That’s not to say that each platform doesn’t have its nuances. But the goal remains the same: get your offerings in front of your target audience.

“Test different types of content (on each platform),” says Goodnough. “Does having a keyword-rich headline on your image and in the caption perform better than in the caption alone? Does your profile get more followers from thought leadership pieces?”

When you’re familiar with what works for the audiences and algorithms of every platform, you can fine-tune your SEO and content strategy accordingly.

Speaking of content marketing

 6. Optimize every piece of content

When it comes to social media, you don’t always get a ton of room to work with. With character limits and funky formatting, it’s up to you to make the most of the space you have and optimize every piece of content you share.

“Fill out your social profiles entirely,” says Goodnough. “Make them keyword-rich and easy to scan. Include products and services in the About sections if character limits allow (Facebook and LinkedIn have longer About sections than Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest do).”

Other ways to optimize your social media profiles are:

  • Make sure your business name is in your handle
  • Use top keywords in your bios and other editable sections
  • Add locations (if applicable) and links to your site or online store
  • Build links and social media reach
  • Don’t pay for fake followers or likes—aim for organic traffic only
  • Bonus: Use UTMs to measure traffic and get to know your customers

After all, you optimize your website with page titles and keywords, right? As an extension of your website content, it’s only right your social media profiles follow suit.

Another way to optimize your socials? Forge genuine connections!

 7. Engage with your audience and similar accounts

Engagement is a must for a strong social media presence. It’s how brands like Wendy’s and BarkBox fostered cult followings on their socials. 

“Actively engage with your audience,” advises Goodnough.  “Answer their questions, react, and reply to their comments. Focusing on your engagement KPIs can improve your social SEO since platforms consider it a sign of quality content.”

But don’t limit your interactions to just your audience.

Build relationships with other brands in your niche. This creates rich opportunities to share content and link to each other’s posts. Plus, positive mentions boost your visibility and positive awareness. 

With 75% of people turning to their socials for brand research, this is a valuable avenue to show audiences your brand lives up to the hype.

The same goes for content creators. Search engines pay close attention to who creates web page content. Now that crawlers pull info from social media, the more you credit your content creators, the more credible search engines perceive those authors (and your content) to be.

But if you truly want to connect with your audience, shouldn’t your content be accessible to all?

 8. Make your video content more accessible

As of October 2023, over 4.95 billion people use social media worldwide. Based on the estimated 15-20% of the population having a disability, that could leave around 866 million people with accessibility considerations for social media. 

Is accessibility a ranking factor? According to the Bureau of Internet Accessibility, it’s not so black and white.

Technically, accessibility isn’t a ranking factor because it’s hard to quantify. That said, accessible content is typically met with stronger user experience signals (which are quantifiable KPIs). 

Goodnough says this holds especially true for content on video-centric platforms like TikTok and YouTube.

So, how do you achieve that on your social media channels? 

Add closed captions (subtitles) directly to your videos and alt text to images. Not only does this improve accessibility and increase engagement, but Goodnough says it helps social platforms know exactly what your content is about and who should see it.

Most social media platforms have integrated accessibility features into their platforms. TikTok and YouTube videos, for instance, auto-generate subtitles across all video content. Instagram also allows you to enter alt text for shared images.

So, what kind of noise will you make when you sharpen your social media SEO?

 How social media SEO sets you up to scale your business

Posting organic social content and hoping the algorithm gods smile upon you that day? So, last year. Nowadays, you need to post with the intent to be discovered.

People now take a more active approach to find content and products they want. And, like we touched on earlier, TikTok and Instagram are stepping into Google’s lane with younger audiences when it comes to search.

Social media SEO puts your content and brand before new customers and re-engages existing ones. Moreover, strong organic content supports other digital marketing channels like traditional SEO and paid social, effectively working together to grow your customer base and drive conversions.

Want deeper social media insights? Check out our articles on creating ads for Instagram, Facebook, X, Pinterest, and TikTok

The takeaway

Consumers don’t just think of the Google search bar when they go online to find information anymore. Now, they use social media channels like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram to answer their questions.

And with shopping on social networks becoming more seamless with integrations like Shopify x Twitter and TikTok Shopping Ads? Social media is on its way to being a full-funnel customer journey from discovery to consideration to conversion.

For these reasons, it’s more critical than ever to carve out a space for social media SEO in your digital marketing strategy.

As a top 3% SEM agency, our team of optimization gurus can keep you agile and in sync with the latest SEO trends, bringing you a scorching social SEO strategy that never fizzles out. 

We bring an average of 4.5X ROI to our wide roster of clients in the ecommerce, SaaS, finance, and education industries. 

Goodnough shares a recent success story: 

From April to August 2023, we amped up a client’s social media SEO with smarter keywords, diverse content, and strategic link sharing. The result?

  • They smoked their fifth-place spot and soared to the top of Facebook results
  • Drove a 233% spike in site traffic
  • Saw a 30% increase in site engagement
  • And a 42% increase in Facebook engagement

What does this tell us? “That keyword-rich, varying content resonates with users,” says Goodnough.

Stoked to bring this same fire to your social media SEO? You know where to find us.

This post has been updated and was originally published in November 2022.


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