How to Use Social Media as a Link-Building Tool

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Social media can provide a great platform to spread brand awareness. Used properly, your social presence can also be used to boost your SEO strategy by earning quality backlinks to your website.

Links are one of the most important quantifiers used by search engines as they decide how relevant, important, and trusted you are. The more good quality links you have, the more ‘value’ is assigned to your site and the higher your ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Provide Content that Adds Value

There are many ways to get links but social media provides a good opportunity to earn links naturally. As search algorithms get more sophisticated, aggressive self-promotion and anything that even approaches the idea of link farming is becoming less effective and can even be harmful to your  rankings. If you create content that people find valuable, they are more likely to want to share it.

What people find valuable can vary but good quality infographics and posts that provide statistics, well-researched information, and new angles on a subject are all good starting points. A good video that captures viewers’ attention is eminently shareable, which is one reason nearly 87% of brand and agency marketers now create video for content marketing.

Original, entertaining posts stand a chance of going viral. But don’t just concentrate on entertainment value – a solid, useful post is likely to provide a long-term return, as people could use it as a reference for their own content. Experienced bloggers and content writers will often link back to your content rather than quote or steal it, especially if it appears authoritative.

Contribute to the Conversation

The quality of your posts and responses is more important than sheer frequency. People are still likely to link to your content if it is valuable, even if it is a one-off. By making frequent contributions however, you can build up your presence and authority in relevant fields. Not every response you make has to be a meticulously researched and densely packed data bomb. You can add useful snippets of info, offer your opinion or simply say, ‘Hey, great post’ every once in a while. Building your presence means that people in the community are already aware of you and may be even more likely to re-use your content when you do bring out the more valuable posts. If you keep an eye on the conversation and are able to respond positively to others’ queries and problems, this can also help.

It’s particularly useful to provide linkable content within the first few responses to a new blog or post. Being within the first five or ten posts – and certainly within the first page where applicable – can really help get your content noticed.

Identify Targets

The time and resources you have to spend on social media will be finite, so it pays to target your efforts effectively. You’ll ideally want to be seeking out key influencers in the relevant field. This may mean that your comments and posts are competing with a lot of others but this is where the value you build in can help them stand out.

Facebook and Twitter are the two go-to platforms for most people but you should also seek out targets on other sites such as YouTube, Pinterest, and Tumblr. If you are marketing within specific regions, you might want to extend your efforts to the most popular sites in each market. VK, for example, is the preferred social media site in Russia, while Orkut can help extend your reach within India and Brazil.

Use the Right Tools

There are a number of tools and services that can help you find the best targets. Followerwonk, for example, offers a Twitter analytics service. This can help you sort and compare followers by looking at data such as social authority scores and the percentage with URLs. You can also gauge reactions to your own tweets by monitoring your activity alongside current follower numbers.

Fresh Web Explorer is another handy tool as it searches for mentions of your brand, company or other keyword and matches this with ‘feed authority’. This can help you sort key influencers from those with less perceived authority, allowing you to target your efforts more effectively.

As links from social media tend to be earned rather than bought or traded, the results of any campaign can be difficult to predict. Genuine earned links can be very valuable – which makes all the effort worth it!

Image courtesy of smarnad at

Christian Arno
Christian Arno is the founder of Lingo24, a global translation company. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 200 employees spanning three continents and clients... Read Full Bio
Christian Arno
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  • Social media is just a great tool to help you go viral and get more eyeballs to see your content

  • Providing Quality content on social media Guarantees that it’ll give you link back? I am not getting your point of building links with social media on the basis of these points. plz explain

    • James Halloran

      I think he means by “stoking the fire” your content generates increases the likelihood that someone will link back.

  • James Halloran

    Thanks for sharing those resources! Moz always has incredible analytics tools, but I never heard of Followerwonk before. I’ll have to check that out. It seems interesting.

    • Nice tool thanks for sharing it. It can give boost to the twitter research.Thanks alot!

  • Infographics have been one of the more successful ways we’ve been able to build links. Sharing is caring! It’s important to include a share-able snippet of code at the bottom of your infographic which users can copy and paste and place on their site. The nice thing with sharing is that it guarantees a link back to your site.

  • If you have limited time, the hardest thing to do is find a balance between creating content worth sharing and building up a social network to share it on. Unless your posts go viral every time, you will need a large number of followers/friends/connections/subscribers to share your content with. Being active on the networks you use to promote your posts is just as important as writing great content.

  • I know social shares provides social proof and could lead to more people wanting to backlink. But, are you saying that links from Social Media are considered a backlink in Google’s algorithm? I’ve been trying to research the web to find concrete evidence that this is actually the case.

    • Links from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are usually nofollow links, so they do not pass “link juice.” So, the links themselves do not act as the type of backlink you are thinking of. However, in Dec 2010, Matt Cutts announced that Google now considers “social signals” as a ranking factor in their algorithm. When links to your content are shared within social media networks, that acts as a signal to Google that your content must be worthwhile, and thus your website is probably very relevant. Just like a (quality) link is a “vote” for your website, good social signals are also “votes” for your website.

  • Social media is all about interaction and staying in limelight by remaining active.Prove urself to be useful to the target audiences and here u get the business.

  • I find opinion to be the greatest source of interaction in social media.

  • Wow great info mate thanks

  • Great piece of information. I just want to contribute my thought here. Building a brand identity is a time consuming factor. And same goes for utilizing Social Media to build your Brand Identity as well. Therefore, one needs to be patient and keep putting in efforts to reap the benefits in the long run.