Tumblr for SEO? The case for social’s newest up-and-comer

When I tell other SEOs that Tumblr is my favorite social network of choice, the responses are always a bit puzzled.

“REALLY? Tumblr?”, which is usually followed by a thoughtful “Hmm. Interesting.”

Yes, Tumblr. For LOTS of reasons – not the least of which are that underneath this SEO mask, I’m actually a creative.

Let me explain.

Tumblr is really, really great for SEO

As a newer, more artistically-inclined platform, Tumblr has (thus far) flown under most SEO spammers’ radars, which means the platform hasn’t removed its most valuable SEO features. The most obvious of these is that Tumblr allows for dofollow links in its posts. Each time a post with a link gets reblogged (the Tumblr equivalent to a retweet or share), it carries those dofollow links over in the reblogged post.

This translates into the potential for posts to generate a significant number of new links – assuming the content is engaging and worthy of reblogging, of course. Unlike other social networks (*coughs* Facebook), Tumblr’s feed doesn’t sort or hide content from the people you’re following, which means that smaller brands and new blogs have just as good a chance of having their content seen and shared by their audience as anyone else on the platform. On Tumblr, anyone’s posts can go viral. I’ve seen attention-grabbing posts from small, personal blogs get reblogged by a prominent user and go on to accrue reblogs in the upwards of the 10,000s. Prominent Tumblr blogs that have built large audiences (which are often artistic or inspirational in theme) routinely receive 1,000s of reblogs on individual posts.

Imagine generating 10,000 dofollow links (with anchor text and content of your choice) from a single social media share.

Think about that for a minute.

And that’s not even going in to the co-citations you can receive from other, authoritative Tumblr bloggers who share your posts. Or the plethora of blogging and marketing gems the platform has hidden under the hood.

Moar LinksTumblr is a highly visual platform, so creating the kind of content that gets hefty reblogs here requires significant creativity, and no small amount of strategy, trial and error. But the potential is there.

There are plenty of other ways Tumblr is amazing for link building, which I won’t share here in an effort to hold the spammers at bay for a few more minutes. Data scientist and really smart marketing nerd Andrea Lopez has written more extensively about the SEO benefits of Tumblr. To the SEO-curious, I strongly recommend reading her comments here.

If you’re already creating engaging content (like you should be), syndicating that content on Tumblr is a no-brainer.

Tumblr is a direct line to consumer behavior and emotions

Without going in to a full Tumblr 101 Tutorial, it’s important to understand that Tumblr is wired a little differently, compared to other networks. Here, the landscape is dominated by cult TV show gif series, superhero fandoms and emo poetry. Teens, tweens, artists, writers, typographers and designers make up the bulk of Tumblr’s userbase – although it’s worth noting that plenty of major brands, B2B companies and creativity-oriented marketers find significant value in inhabiting this space as well. The community here is one that is motivated by gut feeling and emotion, not clever marketing messaging or high ranking headlines. In short, Tumblr is a space for vulnerability and purity of heart.

If that sounds too soft and mushy for your taste, consider: Tumblr is arguably an incubator for the next generation of social networking. Users across the board have been complaining about Facebook’s newsfeed algorithms and increased ad presence for years, and with Twitter turning similar corners, Tumblr is a refuge for consumers who are looking for an authentic experience.

It’s the reason Moz uses Tumblr as a “testing ground” for creative content. It’s a perfect gut-check for new media and creative content: if Tumblr users love and share it, you know it’s resounding with your audience on an emotional level. And vice versa.

To succeed on Tumblr, you have to create content which truly engages audiences on an emotional level. Isn’t that what the SEO game – and all of marketing and advertising, for that matter – is really all about?


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9 Responses

  1. I have absolutely no idea what any of you are talking about….but I sure do love the voracity of that baby going for the big bite on that apple!!!!!

  2. I do not believe in the ‘Dofollow’/’Nofollow’ analysis of links for SEO and make a selection of resources simply on the basis of what these are meant for and whether these are capable of attracting the users. Tumblr’s key lies in its strength of generating a great user experience, essentially through images, videos and animations.

    1. Hi Naveen, thanks for your comments, and I couldn’t agree with you more. The significant value of dofollow over nofollow began its decline when Google removed nofollows’ ability to sculpt pagerank back in 2009. Nofollows can add value just as dofollows do, but dofollows can help to give you a better edge in competitive markets. That being said, I would certainly agree that Tumblr’s real muscle is in its ability to engage audiences with diverse media. Dofollows are simply a nice icing on the cake!

  3. Tumblr is just amazing it made blogging so interesting, you can publish an amazing gif image and then make it viral. I guess there are not many social media sites which support gif animation.

    1. Gifs definitely excel on Tumblr, and they’re a fascinating way to engage with audiences. I would say, however, that Tumblr’s real value lies in its diverse capabilities, and its ability to interact seamlessly with a wide range of media. Digital publishers would do well to look at Tumblr’s model as an indicator of how key new media will be – and in many ways already is.

  4. Been a long time since I really gave much thought to Tumblr. Now you’ve gone and distracted me. Bit like like an “ear worm.” Well done.

    1. HA! Ear worm. I’ll take that as a compliment. 🙂 Happy tumblring – be sure to connect on Twitter (or Tumblr, obvs) and let me know what you think.

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