How Social Networks Are Approaching SEO: What We Can Learn

Growth experts at social networks don’t think about SEO the way we might do for a SaaS company.

They face a unique set of challenges, such as getting Google to crawl and index billions of pages or render heavy JavaScript frameworks, and that takes a different mindset.

While only a small subset of sites deal with these challenges, there is a lot to learn from observing how social networks excel at SEO.

In this post, you’ll learn how Facebook and LinkedIn drive billions of search visits and how Instagram has a significant competitive advantage over TikTok.

I will leave Twitter out because of their partnership with Google, but cover Snapchat’s bare potential to drive more adoption through SEO.


Ironically, social networks don’t get social traffic.

They get traffic from direct (majority), organic (second), and referral (third) channels, and rank predominantly for brand names like CNN, Walmart, and Google.

The SEO professionals at Facebook are doing a great job at growing organic traffic (33 million top 10 keywords in October).

Facebook raked in 16 billion global visits in October, of which 10.8 billion came from direct and 2.3 billion from search (data from SEMrush).

Keep in mind that this captures only a fraction of users because most use the Facebook app.

Facebook’s main challenge is making sure all pages are indexed and crawled.

he problem is that Google won’t create a Facebook account and crawl all posts, profiles, and pages.

As smart SEO pros know, the solution is HTML sitemaps or “indices” of the most important content.


Social networks are two-sided marketplaces of users and ads.

LinkedIn has a SaaS offering as well, which is not the only way the job network sticks out: LinkedIn doesn’t just link to indices but to directories in the footer.

They have 27,000 of them and link to subdirectories like /salary/, /school/, or /jobs/.

LinkedIn doesn’t get as much traffic as Facebook – the market is smaller – but grew steadily over the last years and achieved an organic traffic share twice as high as Facebook’s (29% versus 14%).

Instagram Versus Tiktok

Even though TikTok has almost as many users as Instagram, its organic traffic doesn’t come close. Even when comparing TikTok to Youtube, the same outcome applies.

Instagram follows the same strategy as Facebook and LinkedIn for indexing its massive corpus of pages. They go even further and put Googlebot in front of unique taxonomy: cities and hashtags.

TikTok fails to adapt its framework to Google’s rendering requirements. The result is easy to see when you visit the app with JavaScript turned off: Google can’t crawl, index, and rank TikTok’s content.

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