Twitter has undergone some apparently minor changes. Subtle changes, but very important changes, none the less. The kind of changes that could have far-reaching implications for search engine marketing and brand names…
Back in November 2008, Niall Kennedy had the temerity to propose bold changes to the very mechanics of Twitter:
“… I decided to rewrite [Twitter’s] front-end on [the] Google App Engine to incorporate modern front-end programming best practices, exceptional performance, and establish a solid platform for further development.”
Someone listened, because some of those changes appear to have made their debut on Twitter recently. If any of the substantial ideas that Niall put forward were added to Twitter, the benefits could be very important, from a search / brand perspective.
Meanwhile, in more recent news, over on TechCrunch, there’s been talk of the changes to the title tag on Twitter’s profile pages:
“Notice that title tag for my Twitter profile page? It reads ‘Robin Wauters (robinwauters) on Twitter’ where it used to say ‘Twitter / robinwauters’.”
So what’s so damned important about this subtle change? Essentially, we’re getting more coverage and more exposure for our names. Now, if you’re like me and your name is your brand, then having your name shoved up front in the window title is a step forward, given the growing popularity of Twitter. Additionally, the second word you’ll see is your username in parenthesis. Why’s this important? Because if your Twitter username is a brand name — in my case, it’s the name of my business, Octane Interactive Limited — then it becomes a win-win scenario, from a search and brand perspective.
Robin illustrates the value of this change in how his ranking has shifted on Google since the update. So for those who were smart enough to protect their brand by getting a Twitter profile in the name of their business, or their own name, they might now start to reap the benefits of their diligent thinking.
As an aside, and this is more a question for the advanced SEO people out there, since we have have the option to edit our Twitter profiles and change the colour of the links and such, what might happen to the ranking of a single profile page, or Twitter over all, if white text was placed on a white background? This is a very old “black hat” SEO technique, but it’s certainly still possible someone could make that mistake.
SEO: Twitter giveth, Google taketh away
However, all is not as it would seem; Google doesn’t follow any of the links posted onto Twitter. Since these links aren’t followed up (because they have a “nofollow” attribute added to them), no value is passed on to the blog article or web page those Tweets are linking to. I’ll let Andy Beal explain why the “nofollow” on Twitter such a bad thing:
“With the nofollow tag added to every single link shared in Twitter, Googles spider — even if it could keep up with Twitters flow of content — is strictly forbidden from following those links. The result is that a blog post added to a brand new site may well have just broken the story about the capture of Bin Laden — and a link to said post may have been Tweeted and re-tweeted — but Google won’t discover or index that post until it finds a followed link. Likely from a trusted site in Googles index and likely hours, if not days, after it was first shared on Twitter.”
It’s time for me to bang on an old drum of mine — Google doesn’t get social media. Worse still, places like Twitter and StumbleUpon will, as our American cousins might say, eat Google’s lunch, or to be all matter-of-fact and British about it, social media might yet kill Google’s search product and take their profits with it:
“Instead of ‘Googling’ for something, we find stuff being sent to us as emails from friends, in our profiles, in a friends’ lists of favourites, or any number of user-generated websites, ‘blogs, RSS feeds, Social Networks and Social Media portals.
While we’re busying ourselves voting and commenting on this stuff, we’re not using Google’s search algorithm, and we’re not clicking on Sponsored Links, either.”
If you’re new to the Blah, Blah! Technology blog, these are themes you’re going to hear a lot of, because I know I’m right on this one. There’s no doubt in my mind that unless Google come up with a way of dealing with social media, they die. And thus far, I’ve seen no substantiative evidence of them addressing these issues.
Back to Twitter, the changes are, on the whole, a positive for everyone who is taking Twitter seriously. Over the long term, Twitter becomes as much a place to connect as it is a way of being found — on Google, no less. Now there’s irony for you…