SEO for Twitter Content

By | November 10, 2009
By Julie Batten, ClickZ,   Nov 9, 2009

The major search engines have a history of evolving their indexing capabilities to keep up with new types of digital content. First it was HTML text, then blog content, then multimedia files like videos, and more recently it was flash content. Now the search engines are indexing another type of content — tweets!

That’s right, for those of you who haven’t heard, it’s official — Google has reached an agreement with Twitter to show tweets in their search results. While previously, Twitter profile pages may have been surfacing in the listings, now individual tweets can show up as a unique listing.

So, what does that mean for marketers? Well, just like when new types of content have been added to the search indexes in the past and we’ve had to adapt our strategies to optimize for this new content, we’re going to have to do the same for tweets.

Question: How do you get your tweets in organic listings?

Answer: With this agreement only being announced a few weeks ago (October 21), there isn’t a ton of data on what works and what doesn’t from an SEO (define) perspective. As anyone that has done SEO before knows, there’s a lot of trial and error to determine what works when it comes to influencing organic positioning. That said, there are many thoughts on how marketers can both optimize their tweets, as well as leverage Twitter from a larger perspective to improve overall SEO results.

First of all, keep in mind that no matter what type of content — whether it’s a tweet from two hours ago or a PDF from two years ago — Google and the other search engines are looking for relevancy and authority.

Question: So how do you gain relevancy and authority within your Twitter profile and your tweets?

Answer: According to most perspectives I found on the Web, you can basically approach optimization for Twitter the same way as other SEO initiatives. Namely, you should ensure you are using your desired keywords in all Twitter profile page and tweet content, that you build up followers (which count as in-bound links), generate in-bound links via other sources to improve the authority of your profile, and encourage others to share (retweet) your Twitter content. Hashtags are generally considered similar to keyword meta-data — probably not closely considered by the search engine in terms of rankings, but they need to be employed when creating tweets nonetheless.

Here are some useful articles I came across on the topic:

Foreseeing the importance of SEO for Twitter well before this agreement was reached, Mike Dobbs from Mashable offers several SEO tips for Twitter, including:

  • Choose a relevant handle (username) and account name.
  • Ensure you create a keyword-rich bio.
  • Make sure your tweets are keyword-rich and have a prioritized sequence of keywords.
  • Provide backlinks to your content using URL shortening services such as TinyURL.

Writing very recently, Jason Nyback on corroborates some of Dobbs’ tips. He also suggests optimizing your Twitter profile description for target keywords and attempting to use those keywords in tweets. He recommends undertaking specific “link building” activities for your Twitter profile — just like you would with your site — by undertaking article submission or similar approaches. Finally, he stresses the importance of attracting more followers to improve the authority of your page.

Another recent article by Todd Lucier from substantiates the claim that more followers will help, but he also maintains that relevancy is just as, if not more, important than quantity. Having a handful of followers in your industry/category and fewer retweets is more valuable than thousands of irrelevant followers. Just like any other content, Google uses these linkages to better understand what your content is all about and categorize (index) it appropriately. Lucier also points out that the golden rule of search — creating content that is valuable to your audience — applies to Twitter.

All of these findings come as no surprise — the same approaches and tactics that work for “regular” SEO can more or less be adapted to the Twitter environment. The medium may have changed, but the strategies, for the most part, haven’t.

That said, over the coming months we will hopefully see some case studies emerge that will provide further insight into more discrete tactics that can be undertaken. Until then, enhancing the relevancy and authority of your Twitter profile and posts will no doubt help your position in the search engine results.