Google ranks sites with a complicated algorithm based on their authority, with back links as a major indicator. Essentially, the more people refer back to a website, the more Google sees it as something of value and adjusts its rank in the search engine accordingly. Twitter can be used as part of a back-linking campaign to bring traffic and to help with rankings.
The rel=”nofollow” tag was developed by Google as a way for webmasters to tell the search engine to ignore a link. Usually, websites would use these tags for paid links or content that wasn’t trustworthy. When determining PageRank, a 1 through 10 rating indicating authority, these links would not pass “juice,” meaning that the website containing the link would not pass its authority through to the linked website. For a while, webmasters would game the search engines by creating or purchasing a massive amount of “Do Follow” backlinks, guaranteeing a high ranking in the search engines. Google got smarter about patterns along the way, and eventually these sites were penalized due to these practices.
Links that come from Twitter have the rel=”nofollow” tag. Since the major algorithm updates, however, these links are just as valuable as followed links in creating a well-rounded back-link portfolio and avoiding penalization. In addition, Twitter aggregators may gather Tweets and post them on their websites, providing a followed link in addition to the original nofollow link.
Google never reveals exactly how its algorithm functions, but many experts suspect that sites like Twitter, based around social activity, are gaining importance in the search engines. Even Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Web spam program, indicated in 2010 that the algorithm takes into account the authority of certain social profiles, and their respective links. With the growth of these social websites, they may become even more important in the future.
Perhaps the most compelling reason for posting a Twitter back link is for the traffic to your website. If you post something that your followers appreciate, they will share it with their followers. This can continue to snowball and your post can go viral, sending a huge amount of traffic to your website. Although many people see this as a secondary reason for a back link, the first of which being a higher search-engine ranking, it can certainly have a huge effect on your website statistics.
Twitter, like many social sites, works best when you form relationships with your followers. If you use it to simply post links to your website, people will tire of you and “unfollow” you. Contribute to the social network in a real, quality fashion by posting interesting and relevant links to your followers. Cultivate relationships and help your followers, developing a sense of trust, loyalty and community. Twitter followers are much more likely to spread your posts and to click through to your website if they like you, or even feel a connection to you, as a person.
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