Getting Social with SEO and the Twitter Quandary
Join the conversation, but don’t try to dominate it for search’s sake.
The beauty of Twitter is that a 140-character limit allows anyone to chime in. You don’t have to be composing bi-weekly novellas with flowery prose to get heard on the Web. All you need is a half-coherent thought and some shorthand at your disposal.
Of course, that ease is also a curse for the many netizens who end up listening to people who have nothing to say. And now that social media messages have sprung up in search right alongside big-budget news and scholarly journals, the ramifications for SEO and visibility are obvious, leaving our SERPs pregnable to the fleeting thoughts and dubious whims of online marketers near and far.
As always, those with nothing to say will eventually be ignored. But is having too much to say equally problematic? Will your timely tweeting turn tiresome? Maybe. So here’s my thought: know the benefits of search and social media, and don’t be that annoying guy at the party who just wants to talk about himself (or ask others leading questions he already has the answers to). Here are three pearls you might not know about how that little birdy may decide where you show up on Google, Bing, and other search engines:
Start with a bang. Much prevailing thought among SEO specialists is that the first 42 characters of the < 140 may be the most relevant in search results. It’s a bit odd to think that way – especially because many posts start with “RT @wasteoftweetspace” – but it’s something to consider when composing your tweets for search indexing. Does this mean you need to agonize over the first 30% of each and every tweet? No, but keep it in mind when publishing the content you want to be seen and shared. Just posted a new blog article? Mind those characters. Have something particular groundbreaking to say? Mind those characters. Letting us know where you’re getting a cavity filled? Tweet without concern, because we don’t care. (Unless this is a sponsored tweet from your dentist, then we really don’t care.) But above all, please don’t use those characters for an RT attribution. That’s the biggest waste of space and goes against the ephemeral nature of Twitter you want to work for you. Use the “(via @notawasteofspace)” style we recommend at EyeTraffic.
Your Twitter bio is crucial. You know that too-short blurb you wrote while creating your Twitter account? When’s the last time you changed it? Probably the day you created your Twitter account. Well, newsflash, it’s one of the most important parts of your Twitter presence, because it’s static, editable, and is indexed by the keywords you use to describe yourself. It’s a generous 160 characters, but don’t use every one of them to describe your skills. Use them to differentiate yourself among the other SEM, SEO, PPC, and SMM BFDs on the site. Just like those long-tail keywords you’re always chasing, this is the chance to set yourself apart and establish your relevance.
Build a better tribe. There was a lot of hubbub about tribes in 2008 when Seth Godin found another word for a concept that had plenty already. But I found a lot more value for the term by repurposing it for Twitter. There’s no doubt that the number of followers contributes to SEO value for your profile and that makes perfect sense – each follower is basically a link. However, quantity doesn’t mean much with the number of spammers, affiliates, and re-follow tools floating around. That’s why the degree of relevance of the people who follow you matters. Does that make it harder to build a following? Yeah, but it’s a no-brainer.
As I’ve written before in Tips to Build a Better Twitter Network, a relevant following adds value for you and your stream. And now you can use that same tribe for SEO ends. Your tribe shouldn’t be a homogenous mass of social marketing mavens, but keywords in their bios are important to make them optimize for you (and you for them, providing stimulating content to their streams they’re more likely to spread like butter).
All of that being said, Twitter is still most valuable to you and your organization when used as a means to improve customer and audience satisfaction. The beauty of the three insights above is that they boil down to three fundamental marketing principles: don’t bury the lead, be your (interesting) self, and speak to the right audience. These are just considerations to – ahem – optimize along those tenets. That’s why social media is a beautifully natural fit to effective marketing. It’s practically poetry.
Oh, and remember what I said above: shut up and listen a little. More tweets doesn’t equal more visibility. In fact, it might result in tribal erosion. Using social media effectively means realizing the flatness of the platform and implementing an authentic approach. For example, at EyeTraffic Media, our social media services focus on the principles of listening, identifying, and engaging for mutually beneficial interaction.