Twitter tags any links in your tweets, bio and profile with the rel=“nofollow” attribute. When a link is tagged with the nofollow attribute, it means that search engines will not pass on any of the normal search engine benefits that typically accompany a link (such as PageRank, TrustRank, etc.). Twitter does this as a way of discouraging spammers from abusing the social network. Note that you can’t see the nofollow attribute from the outside, it’s in the source code of the web page.
Consider what happens when a user conducts a search on Google or Bing. If a particular site is deemed relevant to the search query, studies have shown that the search engines also take into account social activity on the most popular social networking sites, especially including Twitter. Google will look at how many tweets and retweets a URL has, and the calibre or authority of the person tweeting the URL. If you have a very active Twitter account, at the very least, this can certainly have an indirect impact on your search rankings.
For example, both Google and Bing searches (mostly their organic searches, news rankings, and social search functions) can be impacted by the number of times that a link has been retweeted by Twitter users who have proven to be more influential. These shares are considered social signals (votes) and can add some weight to links in search rankings.
Below are steps you can take to ensure that your page and links are as optimized as possible when it comes to search rankings:
Your Twitter handle.
Your Twitter handle (or username) is a very important part of creating a search engine friendly profile. Likewise, your profile name, the name that appears next to your handle in the profile, further establishes your brand. Both of these names are effectively the SEO Title tags for your profile, and should ideally target important keywords related to your interests. Your handle establishes a static URL at twitter.com/yourbrand that search engines can index so that future information on your feed can be accessed and linked to quickly and easily.
It is significant to note that spammers usually create Twitter handles that include a set of numbers (e.g. @TopPlumbing23142). When Google’s algorithm scans links on Twitter, it often disregards such usernames as possible spam. It doesn’t matter if you are a legitimate business, because the search engine spider has been engineered to associate such usernames with spam. This is why it is always important to choose a username that is professional and meaningful.
Use engaging, search-engine friendly keywords in your bio.
Your Twitter bio is effectively the equivalent of the Meta Description tag in search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines often display your Twitter bio in the links’ description on the search engine results pages. Instead of filling your bio with industry jargon, do some keyword research using monitoring tools like HubSpot’s keyword grader tool or TweetDeck. Look for strategic keywords that have spurred the most interesting conversations and reflect your business in an accurate way. FollowerWonk, Formulists, and other Twitter search engines use keywords in your bio in search results when people are looking for similar users to follow.
Use relevant keywords in your tweets.
You must be relevant and relatable to your consumers, so engage your followers by speaking their language. Use relevant keywords and hashtags throughout the day in your tweets to help boost your rankings. Write tweets that are no more than 100-120 characters so that users will not be forced to edit your SEO-ready keywords when they retweet. Research has shown that 100 character tweets also have the highest clickthrough rates (CTR).
Content is still king.
If your content is remarkable enough and you are actively engaging with tweets from thought leaders and influencers in your industry, chances are that these influential individuals will take notice and may start retweeting your posts.
Since search engines will take into account the value of Twitter authority figures and correlate it with the value of the link posted, this could effectively become the Twitter equivalent of a solid inbound link. This is why it is important to actively engage with thought leaders on social networks and post high quality and compelling information that is relevant to your target market. Recognition from top influencers in your niche will have considerable influence on your optimization efforts.
Use Hashtags please.
A hashtag is a keyword or topic prefixed with the symbol # in a tweet. People typically use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their Tweet to drive traffic and maximize their tweet’s exposure in Twitter Search. Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet – at the beginning, middle, or end. Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets marked with that keyword.
Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics. Use hashtags only on Tweets relevant to the topic. To find the best hashtags, take a look at the Twitter pages of any industry influencers and familiarize yourself with the hashtags that they use on a regular basis. Incorporate these into your tweets, but be careful not to overdo it. Too many hashtags can be viewed as spam, and devalue a tweet. (Best practices recommend using no more than 2 hashtags per Tweet.)
- If you see a trending hashtag that is relevant to your tweet, include it in your updates.
- If you see a user tweeting with a particular hashtag, include it in your retweet so that your tweets can reach anyone who is looking at tweets for that particular hashtag.
- Avoid starting a tweet with a hashtag, this gives a robotic and spammy impression.
- Find hashtags by performing a keyword search just like you would Google, use the ones that move fastest and seem to best fit your topic area.
Build a comprehensive Twitter keyword list.
You probably already have a subset of keywords and key phrases that you use for search engine optimization (SEO). Optimizing for Twitter is completely different than optimizing for the search engines. Thus, it is important to note that due to the Twitter’s 140 character limit, all of those keywords may not necessarily translate over to Twitter – especially if they are long phrases.
Analyze your keywords through various tools such as HubSpot’s keyword grader tool and pick a subset of keywords specifically for Twitter. What you could do is to try to have a small set of keywords that you can use throughout the day in your tweets to help boost your rankings.
Your overall page content.
SEO optimization practices performed on your website are relevant and applicable when it comes to Twitter. For instance, you need to make sure your image has an ALT tag attached to it that’s keyword-appropriate. As mentioned above, your Twitter bio needs to be optimized with relevant keywords and hashtags as well.
If possible, try to keep your username short and simple but highly relevant to your line of business. This means staying away from spammy looking usernames that contain numbers. The shorter your username (and tweets), the easier they are for others to retweet.
Keep the length of your tweets short.
Tweets with SEO-ready keywords appear in the search engines results pages. To ensure that these updates are retweeted in their current form without having to remove important keywords, keep the length of the tweets to between 100 and 120 characters.
Ensure that you are visible on search.
To ensure you are visible in the search engines, you need to make sure that your company name is listed in your profile. If you offer a local service, then it would be a good idea to add your location to make it easy for people who are searching for businesses like yours in your location to find you. People searching on Twitter generally add a location when performing a search on Twitter, which is why it is always important to add a location to your profile.
As long as you have followed all of the steps outlined above, your Twitter page will have more authority and your content will be more likely to be retweeted by others with similarly authoritative pages, which means in effect that your page will be more influential when it comes to search rankings.