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Improving social media SEO for social commerce

Social commerce starts with product discovery. Learn more about improving your social SEO on Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube and Facebook.

Social commerce is growing. China’s social commerce sales generated $350 billion in 2021, which is 10x time more than the US. With those aged 16 to 64 spending more time on social media than search engines, and spending a third of their overall time online looking at social media, there is a huge sales opportunity available. Social commerce has grown by more than 50% in the UK since 2019, while global social commerce is set to grow from $913.4 billion in 2023 to more than $6 trillion by 2030. How can you take advantage of this ecommerce revolution? We recommend getting ahead of the curve by focusing on your social media SEO.

What is social media SEO?

Social media SEO (sometimes shortened to social SEO) is a similar idea to website SEO. Rather than search engines though, we are focusing on search within social media platforms. (Yes, we know that it should probably be called SMO for Social Media Optimisation but it’s easier to call it social SEO!)

Although the likes of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter aren’t primarily thought of as search platforms, they all have a search bar. If looking for information on a particular topic, you have probably used one yourself. If your social media content isn’t optimised, your content may not show to relevant audiences. All of the biggest platforms are finding ways to keep their content offering relevant to their users and that means serving up new content that is of interest to them. Enter: your content!

It is possible to optimise social media content by writing captions, using alt text on images and including closed captions on videos. In this way, the social media platforms’ algorithms will discover the content and serve it to relevant audiences. They become aware of your brand and ultimately, become customers. It’s all about getting seen when people are searching for content, not simply appearing in feeds (we have ads for that!)

For those focusing more on ads, you might enjoy our articles on how to sell using Facebook Store Traffic ads or Google Product Listing Ads.

Why is social SEO useful?

Although some of your content might not be directly linked to sales, it is always excellent for brand recognition. A consumer might not be ready to buy but simply searching for information. When one of your results shows up in the listings, they will connect that information with your company. When looking to buy, they may come back to your page.

On certain platforms, it may also lead to more views of your other content for that consumer. If they have liked one of your videos on TikTok or Instagram for instance, the algorithm will show more of your videos in their feed. The same is true for Twitter posts and Pinterest pins. When they are ready to buy, you may very well be front and centre for the purchase.

What is Social Commerce?

We have written in-depth about the growth of social commerce. Simply put, it is e-commerce that takes place entirely within social media platforms. The consumer never visits your website, instead being taken through the checkout process without ever leaving the app. It breaks down obstacles to checkout such as having to make an account or find card details. Because it is growing year-on-year, and more people than ever before are using social media, it is important to have a social commerce strategy in place.

Tips for Social Media SEO

It’s all very well us telling you to improve your social SEO for social commerce but how? Many of the tips are similar for each social media platform. To make it easier to read though, we’ve broken them up across each platform.

Here are some tips for standing out on different social networks where social commerce is taking over.

SEO Tips for Instagram

Instagram is still one of the most popular social media platforms around. Here are some SEO ideas to stand out.

  • Optimise your Instagram profile SEO – Use keywords in your name, handle and bio. What are your customers searching for? Include those words somewhere! Is location relevant? Include that too.
  • Use relevant keyworks and hashtags in posts – When posting something new, describe what it is to your audience. Don’t put hashtags in comments. That hasn’t worked for a while.
  • Use subtitles – If posting a video, auto-subtitles are great. But by subtitling some parts of the video yourself, you ensure that keywords appear on the screen!
  • Use alt text – Alt text is all about making visual content accessible. By describing the image, those who can’t see it can at least understand why it’s there. This is useful for those with visual impairments or (very) slow internet. An added benefit though, is that Instagram can see what your content is and ensure it appears in relevant searches.
  • Include a location – If your business serves the local community, including a location can help with local searches.

For more information, feel free to read our guide on how to sell on Instagram Shopping.

SEO Tips for TikTok

TikTok is the app of the moment and if you’re selling on TikTok Shop, here’s how to get ahead of the competition.

  • Optimise your TikTok profile SEO – Just as with Instagram (and all other social media platforms) your profile is so important! Include relevant keywords on your profile and that will instantly improve the impact of your TikTok SEO.
  • Say keywords in your videos – Everyone knows the TikTok algorithm is amazing at presenting relevant videos to audiences. In order to get seen, let the algorithm know exactly what you’re offering. Say your keyword in videos, include that keyword in your in-text overlay, and see it appear in the automated closed captions. That’s one keyword appearing three times in just one video. Perfect!
  • Include the SEO in your caption and hashtags – How do describe your TikTok video? By using relevant keywords of course. These perform better than hashtags but you can always include a few of those as well.
  • Comment on videos using keywords – A big part of TikTok is the comments. Include some of your keywords in comment replies. It marks you out as a true influencer in that area.

For more information, check out our guide to selling on TikTok.

SEO Tips for YouTube

YouTube is the most popular website for Generation Z. Although not technically a social media platform, it is a place where you can enjoy the benefits of social commerce and improve your reach (especially on Google). Here are some tips.

  • Include keywords in your YouTube profile – Although not as big a part of getting your content seen, it’s always good to include a few keywords in your YouTube bio.
  • Use keywords in video titles – YouTube is excellent for long tail keywords. Include them in your video title as many people will use questions on YouTube. E.g., ‘how to find the right jeans size’
  • Rename video files to match keywords – Remember that algorithm bots can read pretty much everything you upload. As such, rename the video file to something relevant. Rather than, rename a video to Easy!
  • Say keywords in the video and turn on captions – Just like with TikTok, saying the keyword can help your content be discovered. Turning on subtitles in YouTube Studio will also ensure that it appears in text format within your video. It all helps.
  • Use keywords in the video description – Similar to SEO for your website, including the keyword in the video description is vital. Even better if you can include it in the first line or two so people will see it without needing to click ‘more’. This is the text that YouTube deems the most important. Feel free to use keywords or phrase a few times in the description as necessary, but don’t go overboard.
  • Focus on how people use YouTube search – Think about how you use YouTube search. ‘How to’ videos are extremely popular so it’s probably best to focus on those and watch your content rise through the ranks. Then repurpose the videos for other social media platforms. Just remember to always focus on your keywords!

For more information, check out our guide to using YouTube Shorts Ads in ecommerce.

SEO Tips for Facebook

Despite falling in popularity, Facebook is still one of the biggest social media platforms around. Let’s see how you can improve your SEO to enhance social commerce on the platform.

  • Optimise your Facebook Page SEO – Your Facebook page contains everything people could possibly want to know about your business. As such, optimising it makes sense. Improve the SEO in your about page and description, your URL and within the page title.
  • Include relevant keywords in posts – Just like other social media platform, including keywords in posts is a must.
  • Add your business address and locations – Social commerce can often spiral out into future sales in person. Get included in local searches by including your business address. If you have multiple shops on the high street, add a location page for each one.
  • Use alt text on images – Just as with Instagram, using alt text is a great way to make your images more accessible and to get your content appearing in more searches.

Learn more about how to sell using Facebook Store Traffic Ads.

SEO Tips for Pinterest

Pinterest is perhaps the most visual form of social media. Here’s how to improve your Pinterest SEO and enhance your social commerce opportunities.

  • Optimise your Pinterest profile SEO – Use your main keyword (or keywords) in your about section and username (if possible).
  • Create Pinterest boards containing your keywords – Pinning images to boards is what Pinterest is all about. Guide the algorithms by creating Pinterest boards that match your primary keywords.
  • Name every pin with keywords – We advise using long tail keywords if possible to help you stand out for every possible search. Just as with YouTube, ‘how to’ titles can be extremely popular search terms on Pinterest.
  • Use keywords in the description – Just like with every other social media platform, including keywords in descriptions is great for visibility. It goes without saying that the description should actually be useful and informative rather than a list of keywords. Users want to see you as a font of knowledge!
  • Always use high-quality images – Pinterest is a visual platform which means the images you upload have to be good. Not only that though, the search bar on Pinterest allows users to search with a photo (Pinterest Lens). To match with what people are searching, it pays to have photos in the highest possible resolution.

For more information, read our guide to selling on Pinterest.

Improving product data feed SEO

Strictly speaking, nobody would call optimising a product feed SEO - everybody thinks it's related to websites. But just like with your social media accounts, optimising a product feed is very important. The question is though - how to do it? Sure, you can change words in the title or product description but how do you know the changes that you are making are working?

The truth is that you can't know. It's impossible to know if your uplift in sales is because of your changes or is just dumb luck. That's unless you use a module like the IR platform's Content Experimentation. Using this powerful tool, it's possible to A/B and MVT test any attribute within your product data feed. From titles, images and product type through to colour or... Well, anything you like! Clients using content experimentation have seen great results with double digit increases in clicks, impressions and ROAS. Clarins improved their Google Shopping ROAS by 114%!

Going beyond social commerce and social SEO

Although social commerce is a growing opportunity, it isn’t the only one available to brands. It's important to meet your customers wherever they may be shopping, which is why it is also important to sell on 3P marketplaces around the world.

To help you, we have put together guides on selling on marketplaces in Australia and New Zealand, selling on marketplaces in the US, selling on marketplaces in the UK and selling on fashion marketplaces.

We hope this helps as you continue on your ecommerce journey.

Products not showing in searches? It's probably your product data.

The easiest way to improve your product visibility is with a free product data audit.

Book Now


The easiest way to improve your product visibility is with a free product data audit.

Book Now
About the writer
Henry Fosdike
Henry is Senior Content Manager at Intelligent Reach. When he's not involved in pushing content experimentation and marketplace management, he can most often be found reading a book, out on a walk or playing games and watching films in VR.

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