Do You Want Some Followed Links From Twitter?

Here’s a quick link opportunity I’ll share with you. Quite a few people have pondered about getting links from the uber-popular Twitter. I had much the same thoughts as NickyCakes when I first saw that the only followed links in the service pointed to the posting applications.

twitter links Do You Want Some Followed Links From Twitter? Strangely enough there is a much easier link opportunity on the system. Although Twitter has carefully applied nofollow to your Web entry in the your profile, you can slip a handful of URLs into the Bio fields (see here). The key is putting “www” in front of each one and a comma between entries, i.e. www.domain1.com, www.domain2.com

For some reason that converts the URL into a link. My guess is that Twitter forgot to remove some RoR formatting on this input field. This is almost the same behavior you see in tweets when you enter a web address.

Although profile pages have no TBPR (marked unranked) by default, some have built up a visible score and all are indexed by the search engines. I’ve not tested the link juice but considering that 90% of the page content is nofollowed it looks tasty. So get your signature links in there while it lasts.

03/09/08 Update: Twitter Makes Bio Link Non-Active

Well we knew this day would come. Especially after DaveN blogged about the technique and caught Google Engineer Matt Cutt’s attention. He sent a message to @ev (Evan Williams, a twitter founder) to alert him and a few weeks on, the links have been made non-active. Don’t blame Dave though. First, he’s a great guy and second – if your SEO success depends on loopholes in Web 2.0 apps you have bigger problems than Twitter altering their code.

Still, this saga has created a new controversy of its own. SEOs are wondering what right Google has to intervene in other websites and their ever evolving application of nofollow. The tag was first introduced to control spam within UGC, such as user comments but that initiative was soon declared a failure. However Google has increasingly pressured webmasters to use the tag on any link that might affect their results. To keep following the story as it develops, follow the posts by Rae Hoffman or Kevin Gibbons, or these two Sphinn posts.

Nick Wilsdon is the Head of Content and Media at iProspect UK, part of the Densu Aegis Network. He manages online campaigns for the UK's leading telecom, finance and FMCG brands.

Comments

  1. Nick Wilsdon says

    @andymurd

    Yep probably not long. Actually this is one post I don’t mind not going hot on Sphinn. Thanks to Richard for submitting it but this was more a free tip for my blog and twitter followers. I have a lot more stuff like this so maybe I need to work out a way of hiding content or removing the social buttons on them.

    @Dave

    Hmm $5,000 you say. Well feel free to refer to my bribe guide wish list

  2. says

    Hey Nick, there’s a great method of making using of “zero day” opportunities like this, and informing your SEO friends/followers, while not telling the whole world.

    It goes like this: use it.

    You see? Your SEO followers will see it when they do their research, so you informed them. The general public will not, so it remains a good, working opportunity.

    Simple. I know. Sometimes simple is best!

  3. says

    /makes mental note to review John’s sites more often

    Yep you’re right though. Things have gone much more under the radar in general recently. The other option is to use private groups of course ;)

  4. Nick Wilsdon says

    @Michael

    Hi Mike. Yep forgetful code can yeild opportunities but these kind of tips are just throwaway “tricks”.

    It’s got some use as a case study on the method (using authority sites for profile links) but no replacement for understanding the real aspects of online marketing. Engaging and increasing the user experience and analysing conversions are where the real gems are.

  5. says

    I never thought of building backlinks with twitter as all comments links are nofollow. Ya profile link is do follow. One more thing about twitter is that 70% links are redirect so does not get any benefit except traffic. Thanks for sharing I am stumbling it here http://lindsayhogan.stumbleupon.com/ so that I can share it with my stumbleupon group.

  6. says

    Hi Lindsay, thanks for the comment. Actually there are quite a few ways to build links with Twitter.

    Although Twitter themselves nofollow the links on their website, they leave them followed in the XML feed. For example, I am using the feed here on my blog to show my latest comments. Many services are springing up which use Twitter data, such as quotable.com. These sites may or may not apply nofollow. So don’t just focus on Twitter itself, the links can be republished in other locations. ;)

    Also you may be interested to know that TinyURL are actually using a 301 “permanent” redirect. In its natural followed state, this will pass both traffic and PageRank.

  7. says

    Hi

    Well any links within the status messages on Twitter are nofollowed. There have been reports recently that nofollowed links are not totally discredited but even so – it’s not the same as getting a followed link.

    However, as I wrote above, some other services will index the link from your feed with the nofollow removed. So it is a form of link building. There is also the traffic of course.

    I would consider though how you interact with people in a social media environment like Twitter. You’re essentially an ambassador for your brand. Link in a useful way for your followers, i.e. don’t drop your own URLs on a hourly/daily basis!

    Twitter is actually a leading referrer for this blog, so it’s bringing me regular traffic and brand recognition. In the long run that maybe more valuable to you than using the service to drop links.

    I would recommend downloading the Search Status Plugin for Firefox. That will highlight most nofollowed links in pink for you and help you identify where this is being used.

  8. says

    Hi Nick,; I loved this comment you made:

    “if your SEO success depends on loopholes in Web 2.0 apps you have bigger problems than Twitter altering their code.”

    I do believe that many in this industry only know how to game the system for links. That’s why there is such an outcry when the loopholes are finally closed. The question that these type of SEO’s need to ask themselves is:

    “Why would tweeter risk any of there own outgoing links to pass any juice at all when they can simply make sure that all user generated profiles don’t pass the juice?”

    Second; why would Twitter want to babysit each and every profile when they know the SEO industry is only participating at their site for the multiple user profiles they can have and the multiple incoming links they can attain? They would rather not have to babysit.

    People should be contributing at other sites because they truly want to be helpful and not because of some juice they might attain. Good members get visitors from their profiles anyway if they are indeed good and helpful members.

  9. says

    Hi Doug,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    Yes the response from some people was worrying. You’d think Google had just stomped on a major part of their link building strategy. I’ll take the free link ops where offered but they are just toys, not to be taken seriously.

    I have some sympathy with the hypocrisy of Twitter canning these links but keeping their application ones live, especially as DaveN points out, they are powering link selling sites. However these link areas are UGC that Twitter, the site owner can not trust. So in my eyes use of nofollow here seems appropriate and within the original aims of the tag. After all, most of us now use nofollow in our comments.

    Ownership of the content, as raised by Rae is an interesting angle. I believe she contends that as we produce the content here we should have some rights over editorially placed links but for me, that’s not how sites work. No matter how much I comment on your forum, I will never have editorial control over my material. As a contributor to that platform you have to accept that the owners have ultimate control. If you don’t like that, you don’t put your material there.

    However Web 2.0 apps, such as Twitter have pushed for us all to claim our “identities” within their platforms and invest our time into filling them out. Maybe enough has changed for us to reopen this argument about content ownership.

    Parts of this debate that do make me uncomfortable are whether it is Google’s place to tell sites to conform to nofollow? With their power and influence it seems any suggestion from them is an offer you can’t refuse (as we say in Russia?). It might be more ethical for Google just to go about their business and sites can choose to react or not react to their guidelines or penalties.

    That would also avoid the terrible PR Twitter has got out of this incident. The way things panned out, if looked like Google asked them to jump and they asked how high. There was no communication with their community. Their fans, who are predominately *not* marketers would have agreed to nofollow this anyway, once they explained it was a loophole that was being exploited. Not to have that conversation though seems wrong.

  10. says

    Hi Nick, I agree with most of what you just wrote.

    You wrote this:
    “Parts of this debate that do make me uncomfortable are whether it is Google’s place to tell sites to conform to nofollow? With their power and influence it seems any suggestion from them is an offer you can’t refuse (as we say in Russia!). It might be more ethical for Google just to go about their business and sites can choose to react or not react to their guidelines or penalties.”

    My opinion differs with that as I don’t believe Google is telling a site owner anything, but how to do well in Google if you want indexed and have good positions. They state on their site the guidelines, etc, so it’s very up to each and every owner how they want to proceed. It’s a choice.

    I actually think Matt Cutts did Twitter a big favor by alerting them to a loophole that some SEO’s are exploiting. Oh sure; some may actually be good members and post good links, etc, but many others are not at all. Many use multiple profiles with multiple usernames and do so just to game Google. It’s sad stuff, but that’s the state of the SEO industry today. The new social media sites and the loopholes out there are to be abused and exploiting by SEO’s as that is what many have done to many things over the years.

    As a site owner; you have to make a choice. You either vet each and every profile that signs up and subjectively award a “good” member with the default of follow, or you do not vet each profile and simply don’t pass juice. If I were the twitter person in charge of things and received the alert from Matt; what would I do?

    That’s easy; I would use nofollow. Why would Twitter want to risk their entire site’s outgoing links from counting for anything? They wouldn’t. Google could have easily just discounted EVERY single link, even outgoing links that the owner of twitter posts. At least Google alerted them to a big potential problem.

    As far as a user/member owning it’s own content and editorial decisions on someone else’s website? Well gee; that’s just nutty. Sorry. LOL

  11. Nick Wilsdon says

    @kishosingh

    I think you’ll find that link is nofollowed. I would recommend installing the Search Status Plugin for Firefox. That will highlight most nofollowed links in pink for you and help you identify where this is being used.

  12. says

    shame this was taken down but you said it best.

    “if your SEO success depends on loopholes in Web 2.0 apps you have bigger problems than Twitter altering their code.”

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