In my morning feed-scanning I came across Mihaela Lica’s SitePoint article touting how Twitter can impact SEO. Part of me wishes I had skipped it, but I read it and feel the need to review and correct what I believe is a faulty premise.
To make a long story short: although Twitter is a social media tool meant to create community and relationships, it does have an SEO value. For example, Twitter can affect positively your Alexa rankings by sending visitors to your pages. Usage data is a sign of quality for Google and all the other search engines. If you can make people come to your site via Twitter, then this is an SEO advantage you cannot afford to miss.
Mihaela Lica – Twitter’s Little Known SEO Value Emphasis from the original
I’m going to disassemble the article’s foundation here, but I want to note that I’m not writing this to skewer Mihaela, she took the time to write the article in order to help others, which I appreciate. Very few people give of themselves and I applaud the fact that she is contributing to our community.
The article attempts to make a case that Twitter helps SEO, even though the search engines don’t follow links in Tweets. The path follows the line of, if you tweet and include a link, someone will follow that link back to your site, which will increase your traffic and eventually Alexa and maybe Google will notice.
The exact same logic applies to those guys hired to hold furniture signs at intersections: give them a sign with a URL, and someone may visit the URL, your traffic will go up and if you’re lucky the big G in the sky will notice and bump your site up a notch.
The inclusion of Ask.com as a way to justify the argument isn’t valid. It’s not that you should ignore Ask.com – it’s whether the time and effort to focus on Twitter for SEO in the hopes of benefiting from Ask.com’s notice will be worth trading the opportunity cost of focusing elsewhere. If you’re expending effort to gain a small bump in a service that holds less than 2.5% of the market share, you’re wasting your time. Odds are good that that small bump isn’t the least bit noticeable.
SEO is not the be all and end all – it is a tool in your marketing efforts (whether you’re a giant brand or a lone blogger, you have a brand). Twitter can also be a tool in those efforts, but all too many people don’t understand how to use it properly, much less the expectations they should have and the ramifications of their efforts, both good and bad.
Twitter and Marketing
So, now that we’ve determined that you really don’t want that guy holding the furniture sign on the corner to be in charge of your advertising, let’s talk about who should be engaging your audience and prospects.
Simply put: you.
Want to use Twitter as a good Marketing tool? One that will have an impact? Here are some key tips to keep in mind:
- You or someone as passionate about your work needs to be the voice behind each tweet. It matters
- Tweet with the same level of excitement you have when you’re explaining what you do at a party to someone who actually appears to care. If you aren’t excited about talking about your company, blog or product, then why the hell are you trying to market it? Seriously – you’re in or you’re out. Half-assed attempts are quickly ignored on Twitter or even worse publicly ridiculed.
- People expect you to communicate – posting links to your own blog or site without any other content is a quick way to fail. Twitter users expect a conversation – follow your fans back and reply to their questions, praise and anger
- Promote other people and services that you use and like. Tell me when you’ve had a good experience with a company or been ignored. Provide value by being a good citizen within our community. You’ll quickly find that others will do the same for you.
- When you have news – real news – post about it. You added a blog post, hey cool, lemme know. A New product release? Sweet, I’d love to hear about it. But don’t spam me with it. Reruns suck.
- Like a marketing campaign, your effort will take time
- Find a good URL shortener that will give you click-through metrics. I use Tr.im and have heard great things about BudURL. Then use that service for all of your links. You aren’t getting SEO love no matter what, but at least this way you’ll get some data.
- Once you have metrics, take a look at what people actually found interesting and post more about that.
Disagree or Have More to Add?
Speak up in the comments or hit me back on Twitter: @BaldMan.