Jun 07, 2024

Social Media Backlinks: Do They Help With SEO?


Nicholas Rubright

If you’re familiar with SEO, you already know the importance of link building.

When you add a link to a social media profile or make a post, you technically do get a backlink.

But do these social media backlinks help with your SEO efforts?

Some experts believe so, others would consider these signals superficial.

Let’s explore this.

Do links from social media “count” as backlinks?

It is natural to feel excited if your posts are going viral. However, social media links do not count as backlinks in the SEO sense because they are mostly “nofollow” links. This means the links don’t pass authority to your site.

John Mueller from Google noted that social signals are not a ranking factor, however, content from social media sites can appear in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Even if a social media profile does have a “dofollow” link, it probably won’t count as a vote like other backlinks might because Google’s algorithm can simply ignore these.

When counting backlinks as votes that will improve your Google rankings, Google looks for links from authoritative sources such as news sites or popular blogs in your niche. These links are often earned as a result of digital PR or other white hat link building strategies.

Does social media help with SEO?

Just because the links from social media aren’t helping your SEO doesn’t mean that social media isn’t doing anything for your SEO! This is far from the truth.

Social media impacts SEO indirectly by improving your brand awareness. By getting your content and brand in front of your audience and building a following, you can increase the chances that a blogger or journalist will link to your content or brand naturally!

For example, I post on LinkedIn quite regularly. Through someone else who follows me, I got an opportunity to write some link building commentary in HubSpot’s SEO guide.

HubSpot message


Now, I have a backlink in HubSpot’s SEO guide to our website!

So while the LinkedIn posts I made didn’t help my SEO, building a reputation with regular social media engagement opened up the opportunity to earn backlinks.

By building your brand’s reputation, you’re also improving your website’s content quality in the eyes of Google.

Google hires a team of Quality Raters who are trained on their guidelines to review the quality of their search results.

They then use responses from Raters to evaluate changes, but they don’t directly impact how our search results are ranked. They instead impact future changes to Google’s algorithm.

According to Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines, the reputation of the website hosting the content and the creator of the content is an important part of page quality rating. It advises researching the content creators’ and companies’ social media profiles.

More specifically, it states:

“For non-professional content creators, including ordinary people who post on social media or forums, you may find informal reputation information on the page itself, such as comments by other people about the creators.  For example,  you may find comments or posts from other users helpful to see what other people think about a particular content creator.”

So with this, it may be the case that Google is using “brand” signals in their algorithm to help determine search result placement.

If social media helps improve your brand awareness, this can have an indirect impact on search rankings because your site is perceived as higher quality in the eyes of Google.

The pros of social media backlinks

Social media backlinks can benefit your business by enhancing its online visibility, improving brand awareness, and driving referral traffic.

Certain search results may display a carousel of posts sourced from various social media platforms such as X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok. These search engine result page (SERP) features may showcase your social media content, potentially directing visitors to your website.

Social media backlinks possess the potential to generate virality for your content and facilitate extensive sharing, leading to a broader, and often faster, reach. When used effectively, social media backlinks can establish your brand as an authoritative voice within your industry and increase referral traffic to your website.

Additionally, the presence of social proof can elevate the perceived quality of your content. As content gains likes, shares, and comments, it becomes more credible and trustworthy in the eyes of readers, which can result in even more referral traffic to your site.

The cons of social media backlinks

While social media platforms are often prized for their capacity to drive website traffic through backlinks, depending solely on social media backlinks for your SEO efforts won’t do you any good.

The primary drawback stems from how frequently social media sites make significant changes to their algorithm. Unlike search engines, where they’re constantly tweaking to improve, social media platforms regularly tweak their algorithms in ways that significantly change the user experience.

This means that social media backlinks that previously proved effective for your website may lose their effectiveness due to algorithmic changes. This fluidity can result in a decline in traffic from your posts.

Finally, the impact of social media backlinks fades quickly. The content lifespan on most social media platforms is brief, causing posts to quickly become outdated. As a result, website traffic may fluctuate inconsistently as previously effective backlinks lose relevance.

It’s crucial to diversify the sources of backlinks to ensure a more enduring impact and greater control over website traffic.

What kind of backlinks do help with SEO?

When it comes to earning backlinks that drive Google rankings, you want to earn editorial backlinks that are considered good “votes” to Google’s algorithms.

This means you want to earn links that are a result of someone else saying your content is worthy of a link, not something you can put up on a website for free.

Google knows you can put these links up for free, so they just ignore them in their algorithm.

There are tons of link building strategies that can help you earn what Google considers are editorial backlinks. Here are some resources that might be helpful if this is of interest:

Or, if you don’t want to do this yourself, you can outsource your link building to a link building agency like us!

How to boost your social media social signals

Social media should be a central component of your content marketing strategy and SEO efforts. Here are some things you can do to give a boost to your social signals:

  1. Integrate your social media profiles with your website using schema markup. This enables your profiles to feature in the knowledge panel of search engine results pages (SERPs) when users search for your company.
  2. Prompt readers to engage with your content by including a call-to-action encouraging them to share excerpts of your articles.
  3. Actively engaging with followers to increase the likes and comment count. This will boost natural engagement, which feeds algorithmic visibility.

The relationship between social media backlinks is complex but powerful. While backlinks don’t produce rankings directly, the indirect SEO impact of greater brand awareness can improve rankings across your website.

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