the Power of the Meme & SEO

This content is 11 years old. Please, read this page keeping its age in mind as SEO changes rapidly and while the past is useful to remember and reference, it often doesn't provide the best strategies to apply today.

What is a MEME?

You have probably seen several and may have even used them before without even knowing it. Wikipedia defines a meme as a “unit of social information. It is a relatively newly coined term and identifies ideas or beliefs that are transmitted from one person or group of people to another. The memes can be said to transmit idea and belief information.”

MemesTo brush up on some of the currently popular memes, you can check out: You can create new memes from pop culture references, or revive an existing one by breathing new life into it. A great example of a popular meme that most people have seen is the Antoine Dodson’s Bed Intruder song. This is a great example of using popular media to work for you. Another popular meme is the LOLCatz. This is an example of a meme that has been reused in a unlimited number of iterations.

The term meme has often incorrectly been used to refer to internet fads; even though many internet fads are in fact memes. SEO, in some respects could be considered a meme since you are manipulating the positioning of a website in search engines which also spreads the specific ideas that improved the rankings themselves in the first place. So how can memes be used to improve search engine rankings?

Creating a Successful MEME

For a meme to be of value, you need to think of visitors to your website as “carriers.” It is up to the carriers to pick up on the available meme content and spread it for you. The only memes that survive are those that get picked up and spread by those carriers. Carriers can be your website, your visitors, search engines, social media…anything that gets your meme distributed.

In much the same way as a virus attaches to a host and is transmitted through the public, the more people it is exposed to, the more successful the virus is. In this respect, this is how a meme goes “viral” on the internet. Memes don’t have purpose or motivation. Memes spread because of what the carriers do.


Memes should not be thought of as a link building tool per se. More correctly it can be thought of as an effective marketing tool. It is also an effective way to create an online following and a way to build trust between you and your visitors. If the visitor can identify with the meme you are using, it will create an intrinsic value and an amount of “trust.”

The meme can reinforce that the visitor is on a site they can relate to, or that the site has a certain amount of social relevance pertaining to them. Moreover, a successful meme builds up social popularity and will increase the time spent on site for people visiting to see your meme. In this context, a meme can be akin to “viral marketing.”

A meme is a self-replicating idea and as such, means that it only works when it is copied and shared with others. By its very definition, a meme cannot exist in only one place; meaning that your website will not be the exclusive carrier of the idea. So how can a site benefit if the ideas/memes are allowed to spread without keeping ownership of them?

When you are recognized as the source of the meme, the very act of people sharing it benefits you the most. Every new Google search regarding the meme should bring a new visitor to your site. This is because searchers tend to gravitate towards the source of the information. Give the meme a very distinctive name and spend time optimizing your site to rank for those keywords in the meme before distributing it.

Being the creator of a popular meme is always best. The closer you are to the originating source of the meme, the better as viewers like to link to the originating source. Memes can encourage links, visits and increase mentions of your site through the use of social networking.

Memes take time to spread. Making use of popular social networking sites will help to promote your meme. Use Facebook to share it with friends and to recruit followers. Uploading your meme to sites like and is a great way to help it go viral. You can use these sites as a test bed for the potential success of the meme by tracking viewer’s comments and reactions to it. Also watch for the number of views your meme receives and the number of upvotes it gets.

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