Tom Schmitz // Jun 16 2011
This is the introduction to a series about how online newspapers and magazines can use Twitter for SEO and achieve greater visibility in the process.
Twitter is an SEO signal. Google and Bing have told us so. Through observation we know that Tweets can have dramatic effect and make webpages rank for competitive queries. It’s as if when there are enough tweets with the correct combination of words and a link, the search engines assign related search queries as trending and put the top rankings in play. We have seen rankings fade away once the tweeted links stop and we have seen new high rankings stick after the tweets stop. Here is what I think is happening when rankings change because of Twitter.
Social media as ranking signals are new to the search engines. Google and Bing are developing new and better ways of discovering messages and links and of quantifying them. As they do, undoubtedly the influence of social media on search engine rankings will get stronger.
So how do we use Twitter to increase our keyword rankings?
Search engines (Google and Bing) measure influence on Twitter in mentions and links.
Notice that your own popularity or influence is not on that list. Popularity is a critical tool for leveraging many other people and influential Twitter members to retweet your post, mention your brand or link to your webpage. However, no matter how much trust and authority you have with Twitter, Google or Bing, your post is only one among billions.
Look at the image below. What happens when you tweet a link to your friends? Do they share it with their friends? Do your friends’ friends share your link with their friends?
People retweet and share links because they trust the person sending the message AND the message content compels them to share. Having more friends helps. It’s a numbers game after all. But, your message or tweet must stand out from the normal discourse. To have any chance at going viral it has to be irreplaceable, exhilarating, hilarious, violent or whatever it is that makes people not want, but need to pass it on. Look at this slightly different picture.
I am a social media and SEO consultant. If I tweet to friends in my profession they see it. If my colleagues share my tweet most of the search marketing community sees it. If enough search marketers retweet then a whole slew of marketing professionals will read my words. Should they share it, in turn, my message ought to go well and truly viral. I like to use this example because it is easy to see how the audience expands in number and scope of interest. As a newspaper or magazine your transitions are unlikely to be so clean, but the effect is the same. Here is an example.
Having influential friends can provide the same effect as having lots of friends on Twitter.
A retweet or link from an influential member or celebrity can make your message go viral. Keep in mind, your content had better be great because influential Twitter members see lots of worthy messages. They cannot repost them all so they will filter anything that isn’t good enough or does not come from a close enough relationship.
Your followers are your fulcrum. Your relationship with them gives you the leverage to access a dramatically larger number of people. It all comes down to four things.