Even though Google recently ended it’s Realtime Search deal with Twitter, which means Twitter’s fire hose is no longer catalogued and used in real-time search results, there’s still a good deal of SEO benefit to be gleaned from Twitter.
Basically, Twitter is a natural complement to your site and a way to gain some additional spots on organic search engine results pages (SERPs), helping your website and its content get found. So how can you best leverage your Twitter account for search? Here are 7 tips to help you get started.
1. Use Your Real Name Wisely
It’s important to note that your Twitter “Real Name” doesn’t have to be your actual name, unlike with Facebook. Instead, it can be virtually anything as long as it comes in under the 20-character limit Twitter imposes.
As such, your Twitter “Real Name” is perhaps the most important thing you can set on your Twitter profile. It appears in the title tag for both your Twitter profile and your individual tweet pages. It’s highly searchable, and it’s something that will appear in Google’s link to your profile.
This means you need to make sure your real name is both relevant to you, a keyword people are likely to search for, and something that will make people want to click.
2. Make Your Username Count
Like your real name, your Twitter username is crucial content that will be displayed in the title of your Twitter profile page and, in some cases, your individual tweet pages. Also like your real name, it can be anything you want as long as it comes in under the 15-character limit Twitter places on usernames.
It is best to use this space wisely with an easily remembered, keyword-rich Twitter username that will get the attention of anyone searching for related keywords.
It may seem like an impossible task. Fifteen characters certainly isn’t a lot to work with, but a few quick Google searches for keywords related to your site can reveal what kinds of Twitter handles are ranking well, giving you a template for success.
3. Focus on Your Bio Next
After your real name and username, your bio is the next most important thing you can edit. At 160 characters, it’s longer than a tweet, and it can be crucial to your SEO as it is both highly indexable content, and the first few words of it also appear in your Twitter page’s description.
It is important to make your bio count. Make the first few words an interesting teaser that draws searchers to click and ensure that the entire bio has at least one or two of the keywords you’re targeting.
4. Link, Link and Link Some More
To be strong in search engines, your Twitter profile needs the same thing any other site needs: lots and lots of links. Link to your profile everywhere you can, and do so with strong keywords in the anchor text.
This works well because, even though your Twitter profile is closely related to your site, it is hosted on a different domain, meaning you can pass along a great deal of trust to it from your site. This makes your links to it much more valuable.
You can further this benefit by encouraging others to link to your Twitter profile as well, such as including it in an author byline when you do guest blogging, which will improve the amount of authority it receives from search engines.
5. Get Followers, Build Recognition
Every follower you get is more than just a person reading your tweets. It’s a link to your Twitter profile on their “Following” page and possibly retweets and mentions of your profile, which also include a link to you.
Although these links are “internal” in nature (meaning they are all links from within Twitter.com), they can help you compete with other Twitter profiles that might be on the same or a similar topic, giving you an additional edge.
Since many searchers who land on Twitter profiles were doing Twitter-specific searches, this could be a very powerful advantage to have.
6. Stay Focused With Your Tweets
While it’s certainly fine and maybe even a good thing to have some fun with your Twitter account and go off-topic from time to time, you need to stay focused and regularly publish tweets that are on-topic and keyword-rich.
It’s important to remember that your main Twitter profile, in Google’s eyes, is very much like any other page with a headline, body copy, and links. As with any other page, if that content is keyword-rich, it’s more likely to be ranked well.
Keeping your tweets focused lets you keep that copy keyword-dense, giving Google exactly what it wants to see and encouraging it to rank your Twitter page higher than other, less-focused accounts.
7. Don’t Forget Your URL
While it’s true that your URL doesn’t actually pass on any SEO authority due to Twitter’s use of the “nofollow” tag, it’s still an important tool for directing the traffic your Twitter profile gets back to your site.
Since the eventual goal of any Twitter presence is to turn that traffic back to your site and your business, forgetting to use your URL is a misstep you can’t afford to make.
In the end, what separates Twitter most from your run-of-the-mill sites is that it exists in an almost-completely enclosed ecosystem. Therefore, much of your link building has to be done from within, and nearly all of your content building is done in the form of tweets.
While this might limit what you can do with Twitter in terms of SEO, it doesn’t make Twitter any less powerful as an SEO tool. It just makes it one that you have to work a little bit harder at to succeed.