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

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to define social SEO
  • Expert tips for making your social profiles search-friendly
  • How social SEO can help grow your business
  • The latest social SEO stats to know

Is social media a search engine? For many searchers, the answer is yes.

Since about 2020, there’s been growing buzz surrounding the rise in social media users leveraging the search function of these apps in the same way we traditionally use Google and other search engines.

And social apps have noticed. Many of these businesses have enhanced their search features to deliver better results for peoples’ keywords and queries. Wondering if social should be added to your SEO strategy? Read on.

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?

Of course, search engine optimization (SEO) is a big concept with lots of factors and moving parts. Here’s how Semrush defines it in one sentence: “the process of continuously improving your site’s organic rankings on search engines such as Google, YouTube, Amazon, and Bing.”

Social SEO is the practice of maintaining your social media profiles and posting relevant, high-quality content to make it easier for users to find you.

To be clear, social SEO is not “tricking the algorithm.” Social media algorithms are specifically designed to show users suggested content while they scroll and seem to know us better than we know ourselves (lookin’ at you, TikTok).

What does that mean exactly? Historically, users leisurely scrolled through their feeds rather than actively searching for products and services. The social ecommerce boom and the creator marketing economy (aka: influencer marketing) have effectively changed the social media landscape — again.

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

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. This is especially true for the digital-native generations, Gen Z and Gen Alpha.

These age groups are gaining independence and growing their buying power. This means having a solid approach to social SEO can grow your brand’s social media following, increase site traffic, and drive revenue.

Social SEO tips from marketing experts

Now that you know why social SEO is important, where do you start?

The first step to implementing any social media strategy is to do research and conduct an audit.

Where is your business located? What products or services do you offer? Answer these questions and research keywords for your business — whether with a tool like Semrush or manually within each platform — and you’re ready to go.

  • Optimize your profiles. Keywords, keywords, keywords! Make sure your business name is in your handle, and use top keywords in your bio. Add a location, if you have one, and link to your site or shop. (And don’t forget to use UTMs to measure traffic and get to know your customers.)
  • Use relevant keywords and hashtags in your post captions. Yes, more keywords. Including them and relevant hashtags in the captions (that’s right, hashtags in the caption, not the comments) helps your post appear in search results.
  • Add closed captions (subtitles) to your videos and alt text to images. Not only do closed captions and alt text improve accessibility, they help social platforms know exactly what your content is about and who should see it.
  • Say the keywords in your videos. Especially on video-first TikTok or YouTube.

Pro Tip: Conducting keyword research and using those keywords in captions and content can offer huge lift in reach and discovery. Just don’t sacrifice authenticity. Use the keywords naturally so you don’t come off as fake or robotic.

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)

How social SEO can grow 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.

Users are taking a more active approach to finding content and products that they want. In fact, TikTok and Instagram are stepping into Google’s lane with younger audiences when it comes to search:

“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.”

– Prabhakar Raghavan, Senior Vice President, Google (published in TechCrunch in July 2022)

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

Not only that, but strong organic content also supports other digital marketing channels like traditional SEO and paid social, effectively working together to grow your customer base and drive conversions.

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

The takeaway

Data doesn’t lie:

With shopping on social networks becoming a more seamless experience with integrations like Shopify + Twitter and TikTok Shopping Ads, social media can be a full-funnel customer journey from discovery to consideration to conversion.

For all these reasons, we’d say it’s worth a spot in your digital marketing strategy.