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Social SEO - how search engines and social media are linked

Social SEO is a term that has been around for many years in the marketing industry. Hardly anyone can imagine something like that. For many, social SEO is the hope to influence your own Google ranking through more likes, tweets and shares.

Social SEO - how search engines and social media are linked

Tuesday September 03, 2019,

8 min Read

To immediately destroy a hope: Social "signals", like likes, tweets or shares, will not improve the ranking of your own company website. This idea came into being in 2013, when search engine software provider Search metrics found out in its large ranking factor study that websites that rank well with Google also tend to have many so-called social signals, ie Facebook shares, likes, tweets (and back then ) Had Google+ clicks. 

As a result, the slogan "Social Signals is the new SEO Gold" and "Forget Links, You Need Shares" immediately came up. But this is a pure correlation, not a causality. In other words, pages that rank well tend to have a lot of shares, but they do not rank well. But maybe also for other reasons, such as good content, strong brand, etc.

So what is social SEO really? Basically, social SEO can be broken down into four areas:

1. Better ranking through blog posts

Blogs are among the oldest social media channels and are still popular in marketing today. For purposes of search engine optimization, blogs are not an ideal tool, because some basic functions and features of the blogs conflict with the requirements of the search engines (eg that old blog posts automatically slide deeper and deeper into the archive). 

But if a company already runs a blog, it would be very useful to optimize it for search engines. For this it is important to consider the basic SEO factors. This includes installing a suitable SEO plug-in (eg Yoast, SEO or wpSEO) as well as general measures, such as good loading time and good internal linking. Then you have to consider which blog posts should really be optimized for Google. 

This does not have to happen with all blog posts, as some more aim to spread in the social web or to address the press directly. Evergreen contributions, ie contributions that are valid in the long term and address a broad topic, are ideally suited to "feed" the search engines as well. For this, the corresponding keywords, as known from classic SEO, should be used in all important elements. 

For example, Title, Meta Description, headings, etc. Even advanced SEO methods such as term frequency (WDF * IDF) or Schema.Org, with which structured data can be sent to the search engine, can be used to further optimize the ranking , some of them are more likely to propagate in the social web or to address the press directly. 

Evergreen contributions, ie contributions that are valid in the long term and address a broad topic, are ideally suited to "feed" the search engines as well. For this, the corresponding keywords, as known from classic SEO, should be used in all important elements. For example, Title, Meta Description, headings, etc.

The off-page factors, in particular backlinks and mentions, also play a major role in improving the ranking of blog posts.

2. Ranking in Google through content in social media

The second point in Social SEO concerns the ranking of social media content in search engines. There are two possibilities: 1. Ranking of individual posts from social networks or overview pages and 2. Ranking of own channels in social media.

  1. Some social media channels are listed by Google very much and very intense. These include especially Pinterest, SlideShare and YouTube. For example, Google's SlideShare ranks 68,558 times among the top 10 in Germany, Pinterest even 488,505 and YouTube even 3.4 million times. This means that if you publish your content accordingly in the aforementioned "archive channels", the chance of being found on Google increases and thus significantly increase your own visibility beyond the website.
  2. At least as important is that their own channels can be found on Google accordingly. This is especially true for searches for their own brand. So if potential customers research the brand, the top 10 should be filled only with matching own hits. So the company website, the corporate blog, possibly a Wikipedia entry and social appearances. The Americans say "own your brand" - take ownership of your brand, so that a potential customer receives a positive and impressive overall image of the brand. This means that all social media channels should be completed and actively recorded. In particular, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Google lists preferred.

In particular, YouTube is an excellent channel because Google likes to list videos from YouTube in the top 10 results. So you have the chance not only to increase your reach beyond YouTube and to generate additional views, but also to address customers who may not even have searched on YouTube, but now come across your videos and thus your brand through Google.

3. Ranking in social media channels

The key point of social SEO is the ranking in the respective social media channels. Again, the so-called "archive channels" (YouTube, Pinterest, SlideShare, etc.) play a major role. So channels that do not have the news feed in the center and are scrolled through rather, but in which users are increasingly looking for content. 

For example, it is known that on YouTube about every third view on a video comes about through the search. A good findability ensures lasting visibility in these channels, more followers and thus more success. The nice thing is: a lot of classic SEO methods can also be used in this area. And even more: Some methods that have not worked on Google for a long time (eg keyword stuffing) can be implemented here outstandingly and very successfully.

In most of the channels, the factors title and description play a major role - make great efforts in designing the title and the description text, make for an attractive text and use the keyword at least once in the title and like multiple times in the description -Text. 

Of that at the very beginning of the description. Create a descriptive text that makes you curious, makes you click and makes you want to see the full content, such as the video. Wherever possible, also include links to the website or landing page in the description text, as this will increase traffic to the site once again.

For YouTube is relatively well known how content should be optimized for ranking. These include above all the title and description already mentioned, as well as the tags to be awarded, which should be filled with keywords and semantically related terms.

Another factor is user behavior, that is how users handle their video. This includes, for example, the click rate on the preview image, the time spent in the video and the interaction with the video, such as thumb reactions, comments or shares of the video. Embedding in playlists or websites can also improve the ranking.

Especially important is the audio track of the video: YouTube reads the audio track automatically and creates a transcript. Be sure to check out the transcript in the YouTube studio, because YouTube is far from understanding everything correctly. 

But you have the opportunity to correct any errors and upload to YouTube. This will give the algorithm more feed and a better understanding of the content of the video and thus a good ranking in the search results. Pay particular attention to an appealing preview image (custom thumbnail), as this determines the click through rate. 

Just a screenshot from the video would be a criminal error - use a specially created thumbnail, which is generated conspicuously and click-click. So they will get more clicks, get more views and thus a better ranking in the search results on YouTube. Similar methods can also be used for the other channels such as Vimeo, Pinterest or SlideShare.

4. Indirect effects

We've already noticed that Likes, Shares and Threads do not directly help ranking your own website. Especially since all social media links are so-called nofollow links that Google does not include directly in the algorithm anyway. 

But there are indirect effects that can influence the Google ranking. Through active social media engagement, a strong brand builds up over time, which in turn can be of interest to Google. If social media engagement means that more people search for the brand, interact more intensively with posts, or write more about the brand, Google has clear brand signals that can influence the importance of the website and thus also the ranking. 

Also can be indirectly generated by social media backlinks, e.g. If a blog post experiences a certain amount of viral coverage, it can well be that other bloggers or even the media report on it and refer directly to the blog post. These (correct) backlinks sustainably strengthen the Google ranking, which, as I said, can not be directly maintained by a Like or Share.


Social SEO is much more than likes and shares for the website. Anyone who is able to use his content and social media channels in a targeted manner can not only strengthen his brand, build a significantly higher reach and increase the interaction with his potential customers, but also significantly improve his search engine ranking in the long term. What matters is know-how, activity and perseverance - because social SEO is not a project but a process and never gets done. Much is done!