An Introduction to Social SEO

An Introduction to Social SEO
May 23, 2024
5 min read

As you read the following words, you’re going to think about one thing… and that is absolutely fine!

“Search Engine Optimisation”

Admit it, you thought about Google, Bing and all those blue links appearing on a SERP.

You’re not alone! For the longest time, SEO has referred to these platforms in isolation. However, the democratisation of search that we are currently experiencing can no longer be ignored.

Platforms like TikTok, Pinterest and Instagram are emerging as search destinations for searchers as they look to discover and be inspired by brands as a result of their search queries. AKA, social search, search everywhere and Social SEO.

What does this mean? Well… we’re living in a ‘Search Everywhere’ world! And, now more than ever, it is the responsibility of SEOs to understand and adhere to the algorithms across the search universe in order to achieve share of search across a rapidly developing search landscape.

But don’t worry, we got you covered.

In this, our latest guide, we'll establish the foundations of what social SEO is and what it means for your search marketing efforts before we take a deep dive into some channel level recommendations, tips, and tricks for the platforms we believe are going to be the main players in Social SEO.

So, let’s get it!

What is Social SEO?

In 2024, social seo is about optimising the content you create to meet the search needs of your audience, on a specific platform within the search everywhere journey.

The aim is to make your content more discoverable and visible to your core audiences when they conduct a search, which allows you to gain followers and develop fans - whilst facilitating improved brand search performance on a traditional SERP.

Why? Well, if we focus on Gen-Z and Millennial audiences specifically, the facts are they are giving social platforms preferential treatment over traditional search engines, especially at those “Inspiration” and “Discovery”, early touchpoints in the journey.

For example, a GWI survey of nearly one million consumers worldwide found that Gen Z users favour more personalised, algorithm-led social networks (48%) over search engines (44%) when looking for information about brands, products or services.

With TikTok themselves identifying that 61% of their users discover new brands and products on the platform.

These stats are being shared consistently across platforms, especially when Gen-Z and Millennial audiences are part of the discussion.

The result? Well, it’s time for search marketers to deviate from the norm of traditional search and embrace all that social-search has to offer.

So, let’s explore some platforms specifically.

Instagram - A visual search powerhouse

Instagram SEO - Observations, Tips and Tricks

An Introduction to Instagram:

Visual Led Activation Approach - Instagram has a strong emphasis on visual content, including images and videos, makes it an ideal platform for visual-driven search and effective brand storytelling. Brands can leverage the following: product imagery, service showcases and more ALONGSIDE creator-led content and UGC can have an impact.

#Hashtags and their role as Keywords - Instagram relies on the use of hashtags for video and brand discovery. When optimising content on Instagram for search marketing considerations this means hashtags should be seen as keywords and content optimised accordingly.

Education Content is Key - As with YouTube & recently TikTok, Informational/educational content has historically succeeded and continues to do well on the platform. Features such as Stories, Reels, and IGTV have facilitated continued use of Instagram for such content opportunities.

[Top Tip]
  Account Optimisation FYI - Instagram relies on signals within profiles in order to understand and categorise accounts. This means that social search on Instagram not only includes optimising content activations BUT also ensuring your profile is effectively optimised.

Key Observations:

Multiple algorithmic considerations - Unlike other platforms, there are separate algorithmic considerations for Stories/Reels/Posts. These consistently need to be understood and acted upon specifically to achieve success with Instagram SEO.

Native “Instagram First” Content needed for Success - Repurposing content is vital in search everywhere HOWEVER for Instagram we need our content to be “made for Instagram”. Simply posting/sharing TikTok, Pinterest, YT content will not work – Instead, we create a specific Instagram version of content repurposed from the OG content. - This is a best practice that should be leveraged across platforms.

Relationship First Approach - Content is served by Instagram based on the relationship a user has with the content creator, meaning that if a user has engaged with previous content before they are likely to see more of our content – allowing us to move users through a user journey effectively on the platform.

Be relevant - Instagram looks at every piece of content and asks “Is this relevant to the brand/creator?”, and also “Is this relevant to their users/audience?” – we need to ensure that when creating search content and linking to pillars that we are calculated with building such links to ensure content relevancy is understood and clear. 

TikTok SEO - Observations, Tips and Tricks

For an in-depth look at TikTok SEO, be sure to visit our in-depth post on TikTok SEO

An Introduction to TikTok:

Creator Driven Search - Traditional search is very much a ‘brand’ led space. TikTok however sees content creators and UGC content be sought out by audiences. The result is a much lower barrier to entry for content creation and a much more democratised user experience with brands, creators and UGC fighting for visibility on a SERP. 

TikTok is embracing SEO - From SERP Features, to improved search reporting for brands/creators. TikTok are embracing their position as an emerging search platform by innovating their solution to increase further search features. 

Personalised Search - TikTok FYP is a much more personalised experience Vs a traditional SERP. TikTok prioritises short form, visual first, video content and provides its users with similar content based on engagement patterns.

[Top Tip] This personalised experience also enables brands to create a search experience before searches take place. AS users interact with a creator on TikTok, the algorithm shows them more of that creator’s content. Therefore we can meet users with our content BEFORE they even conduct a further search in the future - moving users along the search journey.

TikTok Shop - TikTok is embracing ecommerce just as much as it is developing search functionality. For brands, this may present a new opportunity to embed products within search marketing content in a revolutionary way.

Key Observations:

User Interactions are KEY - User interactions are a key ranking consideration by the TikTok algorithm. From shares to comments, right through to watch-time – It is vital that content garners positive user interaction if it is to appear on a TikTok SERP.​

LIVE - Creators are leveraging TikTok's LIVE feature to sit with their communities and audiences to conduct showcases, Q&As etc. This has obvious ties to gaming BUT other categories are flourishing. We have also noticed brands leaning on LIVE feed as potential tie-ins to content around event activations and product launches.

User Experience - Products present in feed - Within the SERP, products are embedded within the feed amongst content results. This allows users to shop products specifically within the feed. This is a vital consideration for related content search clicks that take users to feeds after engaging with content - possibly within the FYP.

YouTube SEO - Observations, Tips and Tricks

An Introduction to YouTube:

#2 Search Engine - Aside from “traditional” Search, YouTube remains the second solution when it comes to search marketing activations. It has a vast audience, spanning a more varied audience base than TikTok presently.

Informational, Visual-led, Content - Education / Informational content is the foundation piece for search marketing activations on YouTube. For this type of content, YouTube would often be the first touchpoint over the likes of a Google SERP.

Different Ranking Considerations - Unlike traditional search, SEO optimisation upon YT relies on video descriptions, video titles, thumbnail optimisation, tags and engagement metrics. This offers a different ranking approach to traditional search, while offering some similarities to TikTok. 

Upon a traditional SERP, especially in non-evolving markets like finance, it is likely that landing pages are very interchangeable Vs competitors (Such as Mortgage Calculator tools). However, YouTube offers truly unique content opportunities allowing brands to stand out more effectively. 

Key Observations:

Rapidly evolving search landscape - YT ensures that recent content is given spotlight within its SERPs and allows it to generate engagement, this means that unlike a Google SERP where you can have consistency in ranking, YT can fluctuate massively. However, this also means that content can have instant impact.

Personalised Search Experiences - YT ranks videos based on user’s experience with their platform. This means that if a user engages with long-form content, their SERP will display more of this type of content. So, understanding what your audience is likely to engage with is KEY. If users typically engage with short-form, our content needs to replicate this format to succeed.

YouTube understands the journey it’s users are on MORE than other platforms - YT understands its channel subscriptions and categories. This means if a user engages with “Education” content (via subscriptions to this categories channels), they are likely to be shown more of this category. Also, they understand how videos relate to one-and-other and can essentially move users through a journey from ‘Awareness’ through to ‘Consideration’ etc.

Success is reliant on ENGAGEMENT - Despite the factors mentioned, engagement is still King! 

For videos to be effectively ranked upon a SERP, YT is looking at their views, likes, dislikes, comments, shares etc to understand content quality and usefulness and where it should be appearing within a SERP.

High Intent Product Searches THRIVE on Pinterest

Final Platform - Pinterest SEO - Observations, Tips and Tricks

An Introduction to Pinterest:

Visual Search at its finest - Pinterest is a unique platform that combines the power of visual search with the inspiration of discovery, enabling users to find ideas and inspiration for various aspects of their lives, including fashion, health, fitness, home décor, and personal style.

Personalised User Experience - Utilising a highly personalised algorithm, Pinterest curates a tailored feed for each user based on their interests, interactions, and search history, making it an effective platform for brands to connect with potential customers in a meaningful way.

High Intent Audience - Pinterest users often come to the platform with high purchase intent, looking for inspiration for their next shopping decisions. This makes it an invaluable platform for brands to showcase their products to an audience that is ready to take action.

Effective Features - Pinterest's features like Rich Pins, which provide extra information directly on the pin itself, and Shop the Look, which allows users to shop for products/services directly from a brand’s pins, are crucial for brands to leverage to drive both engagement and conversions from the platform.

Key Observations:

Pinterest IS Visual Search - Pinterest serves as a key platform for visual search and discovery, enabling users to find inspiration, ideas, and specific products/services through image-based searches, typically at the time users are ready to convert/leverage those images.

Planning and Research Opportunities - It is particularly effective in the early stages of a customer's journey, where planning and research are pivotal. Pinterest users often seek inspiration for workout regimes, exercises for specific body parts or functions and finally motivational imagery also.

Gen-Z and Millennials LOVE it - Appeals to a diverse demographic, including a significant portion of Millennials and Gen Z users, who prefer visual and inspirational content for their inspiration and decision-making touchpoints.

Test and Learn at speed - Offers a unique opportunity to optimise content visually, focusing on creating inspirational and aspirational imagery that aligns with consumer interests and search behaviours on Pinterest whilst being able to reuse this content across the search universe (After establishing that content resonates with the audience).

Let’s wrap this up:

As the democratisation of search marketing continues to develop, understanding and mastering SEO on multiple platforms is about to become essential for social marketers and search marketers alike.

At Deviation we believe that in an evolving digital world, attention is everything and it is up to our search marketing strategies to demand that attention across multiple touchpoints within a holistic ‘search everywhere’ strategy. This is the future of search in our opinion.

If you’d like to talk about this ideology and strategic step more, contact our Creative Strategy Director, Ash at

Ashley Liddell
Creative Strategy Director


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