Is Social Media an SEO Strategy?

cycle of social1

cycle of social1

It’s not uncommon for search marketing experts to discuss and share tactics for implementing social media marketing as an SEO strategy. Obviously, much of the web traffic that used to start with search engines is now propelled by social sharing, and for inbound marketers, this huge source of traffic cannot be ignored.

But it’s an imaginative stretch to pull social media marketing underneath the umbrella of an SEO strategy. Granted, there are things you can do while executing a social media marketing campaign that will have a positive impact on SEO (branded tweets, for example) but social media marketing is about so much more than raising visibility in the search engine results.

To be fair (and play my own devil’s advocate) there is a great benefit in getting your name into as many social ratings and review sites as possible because it is possible that when someone searches for a product or service, references to your business on these high traffic sites can knock a competitor off the first page. When it happens, that’s a win.

But win or not, it’s the wrong game. When you engage people with social media marketing, they’re already in your funnel. The goal isn’t awareness at this point. Search is a long-tail benefit of participation, but not the reason for doing it. When you’re engaged in social media, you are already building trust, learning about your customers’ needs and interests, and positioning to make a pitch. If you are focused on the SEO benefits, you’re watching the wrong ball.

SEO and social media marketing are both essential tasks for online success and they work in concert, like a marriage. They’re not joined at the hip. (artwork attributed to Lee Odden)


  1. 1

    It’s all depends how you define SEO.
    if you mean optimizing you site for certain kwds SM wouldn’t be as much of a help as if you mean optimizing overall web properties that linked to your business.

    • 2

      I think you’re referring to the distinctions between on-page and off-page key phrase optimization. In either case, it’s still SEO and not social media marketing. Any social activity that happens on-site and is indexed will help your on-site optimization, just as any social activity that happens off-site and is indexed will help your off-site optimization. The important point is to be clear in your role–are you driving awareness, or funneling engagement?

  2. 3

    Thanks, Lee. The eMarketer report certainly reflects my own experience as a consumer of hard goods. I’m sure the results would be very different when looking at markets like restaurants, where social/mobile is making significant contributions to consumer influence.

  3. 4
    • 5

      Alok, you are certainly proving your point by generating a link to an SEO business through a social comment. This begs the question… are you engaging me in a conversation, or simply using a social media platform to create awareness? And is that back-link more valuable than the opportunity to have a conversation with me that establishes a relationship and builds trust? Does sharing a back-link automatically establish you as someone who is simply interested in the SEO value of a social platform?

      You might also be illustrating my point, that social media and SEO require different approaches to be effective. With SEO, a hit-and-run fulfills the goal. Using social media to convert me into a customer is going to require more than a comment and a link. 🙂

  4. 8

    for me it is a strategy.. building a social community for an easy advertising of your business. because the people in the social community can be a great source of costumers.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.