By Andrew Dennis
27 Aug 2014

How Social Media Complements Link Building

Link Building


Link building is essential to visibility within search.

To be successful a link builder must always be looking for ways to increase their efficiency, which includes leveraging other online marketing strategies.

Social media is a resource that can absolutely improve link building efficacy.

Social Media Complements Link Building

While social media has no direct impact on search rankings link builders can utilize social media to increase their efficiency. Some of the various areas in which social media can prove useful:

  • Outreach
  • Link prospecting
  • Content ideation
  • Content Promotion

A savvy link builder will use all the tools at their disposal, and social media is definitely a tool that can be leveraged to increase link building effectiveness.

How Social Media Helps Outreach

One area of link building that can always use improvement is outreach, and social media can increase a link builder’s outreach efficiency.

First and foremost, social media offers an alternative outreach channel. While outreach is typically done via email, sometimes it is more effective to contact someone through their social network. Also, there may be times where you are unable to find a proper email address and social media presents your only option for a point of contact.

On the other hand, social media profiles can often lead you to the appropriate email address or you can initiate a conversation on social media and then suggest you transfer the dialogue over to email.

Another way you can leverage social media is by using it to build relationships with your outreach contacts.

Webmasters are people, and people are typically more trusting of people they know and recognize. When sending a link pitch, chances are you will be more successful outreaching to people who know you rather than cold-calling strangers.

Social media offers a great way to engage with your potential outreach contacts by sharing their content, interacting in the same communities, and generally connecting with them on some level.

Social media allows you to familiarize yourself with the person you plan to outreach to before you send them a link pitch, which greatly increases your odds of success.

Using Social Media for Link Prospecting

Social media can also be useful in regards to link prospecting.

The best way to use social media for link prospecting is by utilizing the social tools available. The two main I tools I use are BuzzSumo and Followerwonk. Since my colleague Jesse Stoler already covered how to use Followerwonk for link prospecting during a Tutorial Tuesday, let’s take a look at how to use BuzzSumo for link prospecting.

Using BuzzSumo for link prospecting is pretty simple. First you need to make your way over to the influencers tab:

Buzzsumo Influencers with Arrow

Next, enter your topic or keyword into the search box. For example, here are the results from searching “video games”:

Video Games BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo provides a list of influential people with the term video games in their Twitter bios. Notice that some of these influential people also have websites:

Video Games BuzzSumo with Arrow

More often than not, these websites present wonderful link prospects. Typically, influential people also run influential websites, and those are the sites you should be looking for during link prospecting.

Twitter also provides a useful way of finding influencers within your niche. Simply click on the #Discover tab within Twitter:

Twitter Discover tab with box

Next, click on “Popular Accounts” tab and enter your key term into the search box.

twitter popular accounts with Arrow

Using the same “video games” example from before, here are the results Twitter will return:

twitter Discover video games

This is another great list of influencers with potential websites worth pursuing for links.

Remember, no matter how you find your link prospects, always to make sure you run a quality check prior to outreach.

Social Media Helps With Content Ideation

Social media is also great for ensuring linkability during the content ideation phase.

Again, BuzzSumo can be very helpful.

You will again need to navigate to the influencers tab and enter in your keyword, but this time you will click on the “All Links Shared” tab.

BuzzSumo All Links Shared Cap

Clicking on this tab brings you to a page that lists all the links shared by influencers relevant to your keyword. Here is what the results look like for my example keyword “link building” (#3 is weird, but awesome):

BuzzSumo All Links List

Next you’ll need to convert this list into something usable for your content creation process. The simplest way is to export the data to an Excel spreadsheet. You can do this by clicking the “Export” button and then clicking “Excel” in the drop-down menu.

Export Button Cap Arrow

Once you have exported the BuzzSumo list into an Excel sheet you can quickly see how it would be useful for generating ideas for linkable assets. The data you are given includes:

  • Date published
  • Influencers who shared the content
  • Type of content – article, infographic, video, etc.
  • Total social shares on various platforms – Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc.

This sheet will give you an idea of what types of content have been popular among your industry’s influencers in the past – a great starting point for content ideation.

Using Social Media for Content Promotion

The most common way link builders use social media is for content promotion.

Even the most fantastic content will go unnoticed without at least some promotion. While links themselves are a type of promotion, as AJ Kohn wisely pointed out, social shares often lead to links as well.

Social media provides numerous platforms to promote your content and help get it out in front of the people necessary to build real links. Along with sharing yourself, a great way to further amplify the reach of your content is to convince influencers to share as well.

The aforementioned tools, BuzzSumo and Followerwonk, will help you identify these authoritative people.


Social media can complement link building seamlessly to improve online visibility. Here are a few different areas of link building where social media can increase link building effectiveness:

  • Outreach
  • Link prospecting
  • Content ideation
  • Content promotion

Link building is all about optimization, and skilled link builders use every tool at their disposal. That includes social media, which can definitely improve link building efforts.

Andrew Dennis

Andrew Dennis is a Content Marketing Manager at Shopify. Andrew is an alumnus of the University of Idaho and consequently a lifelong Vandals fan. You can connect with Andrew on Twitter or LinkedIn.