Why Twitter isn’t Great for SEO

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There’s no doubt that Twitter is the social network of the moment.  It feels like Myspace in the beginning – back when people actually took the time to look at profiles and weren’t indiscriminately adding people.  With Twitter there’s a sense that people are actually paying attention to profiles.

Admittedly, at first I hated Twitter.  I’m a writer and prefer long blog posts to the short 140 character posts you get on Twitter.  It struck me as blogging for the A.D.D. generation.  But then I saw my traffic numbers coming in from Twitter and it was clear it was useful as a networking tool.  And the short sentences offer the possibility of more direct communication with people, unlike blogging, which can actually be sort of impersonal if you’re commenter #138 on a post.  Twitter is more like instant messaging meets blogging, which allows people to build up relationships faster.

So Twitter certainly has its uses – but its uses seem mainly directed towards increasing traffic, not page rank.  First off, Twitter is a nofollow vacuum.  It’s understandable that the tiny URL links in each Twitter post are nofollow, but the site could have sent same page rank juice from the profile link.  But that’s nofollow as well.

In addition to being a nofollow vacuum, Twitter has the danger of becoming a linking vacuum. In the ideal scenario, people will find a link on Twitter and then link the post in their own blog – page rank gold.  But Twitter is becoming a kind of fishbowl where people merely link to a site from their Twitter account, not from their personal site.  It’s just easier and users can still feel as if they’re part of a viral meme.

This can lead to increased traffic, which is no doubt useful, but it is not a great system for optimization.  Does that mean you shouldn’t spend your time on Twitter?  Not at all – but you should know this going in – Twitter is a kind of fishbowl, unlike a site like Digg, which will send a lot of traffic and has increased page rank benefits from all the Digg profiles linking to the same dofollow source.

Why Twitter’s Good For SEO

One thing that should be mentioned is that Tweets do get indexed by Google, which is something to consider when writing your Twitter content – keyword-targeted content could help with search engine placement.  However, SEO-ing your Twitter posts too much probably won’t result in a lot of adds.  The more adds you have, the higher the page rank of your Twitter page is going to go – because although links in Twitter posts are nofollow, the profile links (@twittername) are not, so if 1000 people are linking to your profile, that will help your profile’s rank.  From there, it will mean better indexing in Google.  It will not, however, mean any page rank value from all the links on your page.

There have been cases where a Twitter post ranks higher than the blog post to which it’s referring – just as a Digg page might rank higher, given Digg.com’s natural rank – so this could help search engine placement as well.

But all told, Twitter isn’t SEO gold.  It’s a fun network and worth the time to connect with people in your niche, and outside it, but you probably shouldn’t expect any miracles in traffic or page rank.

By the way, add me @selfpubreview.

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