How to Help People Find You on Social Media


Are your relying on social media algorithms to get your content seen (a.k.a. posting and hoping for the best)?

If so, you might be missing new followers and potential customers. Social SEO helps your content be seen by people who are actively searching for companies like yours or the products and services you offer.

Read on to find out what social SEO means, why it matters, and — most importantly — how it can help you grow your business accounts on social media.

What is social SEO?

Social SEO is the art of adding text-based features like captions, alt-text, and closed captions to your posts so that people using the search bars on social platforms can easily find your content.

To understand social SEO, you need to understand the basics of traditional SEO.

In digital marketing, SEO stands for search engine optimization. Social networks are not technically search engines — but they all have search bars. Social platforms are incorporating ever more features of traditional search engines to help match users with the content they want to find.

Search engines like Google or Bing allow you to search for information and then serve up a list of web results that point you to the content you’re looking for. (Or, at least, the content algorithms think you would want to see based on the search phrase you used, your location, previous searches, etc.)

Search engines use a proprietary set of ranking signals. These signals determine which results, out of all the content available on the internet, is most likely to tell you what you want to know.

People originally used social networks to browse content from specific people and brands that they wanted to follow. Now, people actively use social networks to search for specific information. Think product reviews, brand recommendations, and local businesses to visit.

Social SEO is all about getting seen when people are actively searching for content, rather than scrolling their feeds.

Social SEO tips for every network

Here’s what you need to know to get your content found on every social network.

Instagram SEO tips

  • Optimize your Instagram profile SEO. Use keywords in your name, handle, and bio, and include a location if relevant.
  • Include relevant keywords and hashtags in the caption. Hiding hashtags in the comments is no longer effective. Keywords in the caption help your content appear on keyword search pages.
  • Add alt-text. The main purpose of alt-text is to make visual content more accessible. However, it serves the added benefit of helping Instagram understand exactly what your content is so it can serve it in response to relevant searches.
  • Tag your location. So your content will appear on the new Instagram Maps, which can function as a local business search.

For more in-depth Instagram SEO strategies, check out our full blog post on Instagram SEO.

TikTok SEO tips

YouTube SEO tips

Facebook SEO tips

  • Optimize your Facebook Page SEO. Use your main keyword in your Page title and vanity URL, About section, and description.
  • Add your business address to your profile. If it’s relevant, this will allow your page to be included in local search.
  • Add location pages for different locations. If you have multiple bricks-and-mortar locations, add a location page for each shop or office to increase all of their chances of appearing in local search.
  • Include relevant keywords in your posts. Using natural-sounding language, make sure to include the most relevant keyword in each post and photo caption.

Twitter SEO tips

  • Optimize your Twitter profile SEO. Use your main keyword in your Twitter name, handle, and bio.
  • Include relevant keywords and hashtags in your posts. You don’t have a lot of characters to work with, so use keywords wisely. Incorporate them into the post naturally so your post is still valuable to readers.
  • Add alt-text. If you include images in a Tweet, add alt-text that includes your keywords (if relevant to the image – remember the main point of alt-text is to make content accessible to the visually impaired). Do so by clicking Add description under the image when creating a Tweet.

Pinterest SEO tips

  • Optimize your Pinterest profile SEO. Use your main keyword in your username and About section.
  • Create boards based on your primary keywords. When setting up the structure of your account, use your primary keywords to guide the boards you create and name them accordingly
  • Use long-tail keywords in your Pin titles. Build Pins around long-tail keywords such as “How to build a DIY bookcase” rather than “DIY Bookcase” or even “Build a DIY Bookcase.”
  • Include keywords in your description. Write the description to sound informative, rather than being a simple list of keywords. (Remember, you want people to actually click the Pin, which they won’t do if they’re turned off by the description.) But include relevant keywords in a natural way that aligns with the Pin title.
  • Use high-quality images to benefit from visual search. Pinterest Lens allows users to search with their camera rather than their keyboard. High-quality, relevant images ensure you don’t miss out on these searches.

LinkedIn SEO tips

3 ways social SEO can help your business

1. Get your content seen

In the past, getting your social content seen has been all about working the algorithms to get your content into people’s feeds. Now, people are taking a more active approach to finding content they want, rather than just scrolling through the content presented to them.

So, the focus on discoverability isn’t new. Social SEO just requires a shift in thinking about how people discover your content. When people search for information on social platforms, you want them to find your content.

2. Grow your social channels faster

Social SEO is all about connecting with people who don’t (yet) follow you on social platforms. That means it can be a more effective way to grow your social channels than focusing strictly on algorithms. New eyeballs are the key to growth.

3. Reach potential customers that don’t use traditional search engines

This summer, Instagram launched a new searchable map feature to allow people to find popular locations using the app. Instagram is now directly competing with Google Maps to be the best search provider for local business results.

Teen writer Julia Moon said in a piece for Slate:

“I use Google products regularly. But I use them for only the most straightforward tasks: checking the spelling of something, looking for a quick fact, finding directions. If I’m looking for a place for lunch, or a cool new pop-up, or an activity my friends would enjoy, I’m not going to bother with Google.”

Her local search map of choice is Snap Maps.

And high-school student Ja’Kobi Moore told The New York Times that she used a TikTok search to learn how to request a teacher’s letter of recommendation when applying to public school.

No matter what product or service your business sells, there’s a potential customer base that will never find you through traditional search engines. Social SEO is your key to connecting with that audience.

FAQs about social SEO

How is SEO used in social media?

Social SEO is the practice of including relevant information and keywords in your posts (in captions, alt-text, subtitles, and closed captions) to increase the chances of having your content surfaced to users browsing social media.

SEO in social media works a lot like SEO in traditional search engines. It all starts with keyword research. We’ve talked a lot about using keywords so far. But how do you go about finding the right keywords to use?

Rather than brainstorming your own keywords based on how you think people will search for your content, you need to understand how people actually search for content like yours.

Word cloud in Hoootsuite Insights powered by Brandwatch

Source: Word cloud in Hootsuite Insights powered by Brandwatch

Some good tools to get you started are:

  • Google Analytics: This tool can show you which keywords are already driving traffic to your website. While you can’t assume the exact same keywords will work for your social content, they’re a good place to start.
  • Hootsuite Insights powered by Brandwatch: In this tool, you can use the word cloud feature to find which words are commonly used in relation to your brand or industry. Again, these are a good starting point for you to test.
  • SEM Rush Keyword Magic Tool: Enter a keyword related to your content and this tool will generate a list of additional keyword and key phrase suggestions.
  • Google Trends: Enter a search term and you’ll get a graph of interest over time and by region, as well as suggestions for related topics and related queries. For YouTube data specifically, change the dropdown menu from Web Search to YouTube Search.
  • Hootsuite: Set up social listening streams within Hootsuite and keep an eye out for common language used in discussions of your product, brand, industry, or specific niche.
  • Each social network’s search bar: Within each social network, start typing a keyword phrase and see what the suggested autocompletions are.

Using the TikTok search bar to find keyword inspirations

Source: Looking for keyword inspiration using TikTok search

Which social media platform is best for SEO?

All of the social platforms offer slightly different opportunities to incorporate SEO techniques. So which is the best?

It’s a tough question to answer because the network where it’s most important to focus your SEO efforts is the one where your audience is most likely to spend their time or conduct their research. To answer that, you need to do some basic audience research.

But in terms of straight-up SEO functionality, YouTube is definitely the social platform that functions most like a search engine. This is no surprise, since YouTube is a Google product.

Looking at social SEO another way, if you’re hoping for your social content to show up in Google search results, YouTube wins again.

Beyond that, it depends. Twitter and Google have a partnership that allows Tweets to feature prominently in search results. Pinterest ranks well for highly visual content. LinkedIn Pages often appear in business searches, and Facebook Pages rank especially well for local businesses. Google is currently working on improving its ability to index and serve TikTok and Instagram video results, too.

Using Google to research popular search results

Source: YouTube videos in Google search results

How is SEO different from social algorithms?

Social algorithms are all about serving content to people who are passively browsing or scrolling through a social feed, like the TikTok For You page. SEO, on the other hand, is focused on making sure your content is seen when people actively search.

Save time managing your social media and get your content seen using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard, you can schedule and publish content, engage your audience, and measure the performance of all your accounts, across networks. Try it free today.

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