How to Use Social Media to Boost SEO

In his Entrepreneur post “Good Social Media Boosts SEO,” Larry Alton admits that we do not know how social media affects SEO because we don’t know how much emphasis Google places on social interactions and signals. Alton writes,

“Here’s what we do know: Google pays attention to social interactions such as likes, retweets, shares, and even +1’s.”


I like his analogy that Google is an “independent filing system” for a continually ” expanding library of virtual content” online. He argues that Twitter gets our content indexed more quickly and social search measures performance.

More importantly, all social networks are indirect link-building mechanisms. The more your content is shared across social media, the more likely a content creator will find it and decide to link to it.

Targeting the Right Audience

Just getting content shared is not enough; the point is to get content to your target audience. Targeting the right audience is just as important in social media as it is in SEO. Start with this tip from Capital Merchant’s “Tips to Improve Your Social Media”:

The most important thing is to define your audience. Think of your ideal customers and write down any and all information you can think of about them. Be specific with regard to gender, race, age, and profession. The more info you can think of, the better. Now expand it a bit — you want to have three to four different target audiences that will get your messaging at different times, letting you cast a wider net and still be able to figure out what messaging resonates with what customer.


Nothing is more important than reaching potential customers and clients, rather than wasting marketing money on people who aren’t interested in what you have to offer. It is not just a matter of getting impressions. The point is to get interactions: favorites, retweets, reshares, likes, +1s, stumbles, and especially clicks.

Those interactions are likely to also be important to SEO value. Mentions on social media improve brand recognition, increasing clicks during searches. The tighter your focus on the correct audience, the stronger your results will be.

SEO Specific Social Media Strategies

In his Forbes post “6 Social Media Practices That Boost SEO,” Jayson DeMers argues there are six social media strategies that definitely improve SEO. His first strategy relates to growing the number and quality of your followers.

Our social media profiles have their own trust flow and page authority, which is affected by the quality of sites linking to them. This is easily seen by comparing Twitter accounts for writers who contribute on major sites to non-writers.

Look at @Kikolani, @GrowMap or @SEOsmarty and compare them to the average Twitter account. This holds true on all social networks. They are authority sites, and although the links are typically nofollowed, they are still considered valuable as indicators of trust.

According to “How Valuable Is That Link?,” a post gleaned from a forum discussion with SEOchat member PhilipSEO:

“Some observers think that a nofollow link from a trusted site still passes along some kind of SEO value, even if it doesn’t pass any link juice. Phil states that ‘Many have reported and speculated, for example, that nofollow links from Wikipedia and similar high-trust sites can provide a great boost to rankings in spite of nofollow.’”


It seems safe to assume that social media accounts can develop higher trust rankings dependent upon where the links originate. This could include which other authority sites mention them or reshare their content. If those links are dofollow, the Page Authority (PA) of those social media profiles will be higher.

How to Use Social Media to Boost SEO

Does it then follow that shares from higher trust and PA social media accounts are more valuable for SEO purposes than shares from ordinary accounts? I would say, yes. It is possible to use social media to boost SEO.

SEOGenius Director Bruce Smeaton drills down even further:

“I think the key is in understanding what ‘more valuable for SEO purposes’ really means.” It stands to reason that a highly trusted social channel is, by default, going to generate more shares than a social media property with lower authority. And by doing so, the likelihood of these shares turning into links increases accordingly. This in turn results in higher traffic volumes being directed to your site… and this is where the magic starts. No, it doesn’t matter whether the links are “follow” or “nofollow.” What really counts here is that the traffic generated indirectly via social media interaction must impact positively on your site’s perceived value and authority. To quote the words of Search Engine Journal’s Dario Zadro, “What is more likely happening is that Google is recognizing these social signals as ‘brand signals,’ which they love.”


If higher trust and PA matter, it is highly likely that relevance does as well. There are tools like Klout and Kred that measure influence. Kred is of particular interest because it measures influence by topic.

No doubt Google algorithms can measure what is most relevant to any particular social media account. By identifying which social media users are most influential on any particular topic, they are also most likely to be valuable for SEO purposes.

SEOs need to be thinking about how identifying and using influencers will impact their SEO rankings. Those who do not will be wondering why competitors are outranking them without having any idea why.

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