What is Twitter & Why Should You Care?

Twitter isn’t just for telling your friends what kind of cereal you ate for breakfast — it can be a valuable tool in your offsite SEO arsenal that can increase your search engine rankings, drive more traffic to your site, and increase sales.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve read in the news or heard people talk about “tweeting” or Twittering” this or that. You may also have heard people in the SEO field talking about the SEO value of Twitter and other social media as a way to increase traffic to your site.

So what exactly is Twitter, and how can it help your website?

What is Twitter?

At it’s core Twitter is a social networking platform. Sometimes people refer to posting on Twitter as “microblogging” because you’re only able to make short 140 character posts. These 140 character messages known as “tweets” are little bits of information that are sent out into the internet for anyone who wants to read them.

Your Tweets appear on your profile page as well as the home pages of your followers . A follower is anyone who has signed up to be notified of your tweets, and if they find it interesting or funny and want to share it they can “re-tweet” it through their Twitter account, which then goes to all of their followers, and so on.

Still confused? Keep reading.

What Does Twitter Do for Me?

It depends on how you’d like to use it. Beyond simple status updates, I could say, “Anyone heading to the roller derby bout on Saturday looking for a ticket?’ or, “My brother is in town and I need a recommendation for tasty Phở in Minneapolis”. The idea here is not just to communicate information, but to prompt a response from your followers.

A business can use Twitter to interact with customers, broadcast news and blog posts and to provide useful or helpful information about the products or services they provide. When you follow a person or an organization or company’s tweets, their tweets appear in reverse chronological order within your Twitter account home screen — the most recent tweets first, and older ones below that.

Impact on SEO – Why You Care About Twitter

In the SEO realm, Twitter can be a large component of your off-site SEO strategy. It’s an easy way to increase backlinks by giving your Twitter page and your content link juice. Twitter has proven to be a significant driver of traffic and every tweet is a link back to the web site you are trying to gain SEO traction on. So if you tweet, “New case study up at www.myurl.com” that’s not just spreading the news, that’s also a backlink to www.myurl.com. And every follower who retweets it is providing yet another link back from their Twitter account.

Tweeting will build your site’s SEO strength especially if you do it well and provide useful content that your followers find worthwhile for engaging. And retweets are links back to your Twitter account which increases it’s authority in the search engine, thus increasing the authority of all of your tweets linking back to your site.

Of course all of this only works if you have followers and are sharing content that followers find worth retweeting. So engaging with your followers, even if it’s not about your site, is key to building an active follower base.

And while I’m here, are you following ECreativeworks on Twitter? //twitter.com/ecwseo

How Does Twitter Work?

If interested in joining in, my best suggestion is for you to head over to www.Twitter.com and click on “Sign Up” – It’s really quite easy.

Some basic functionality possible…You can reply (@) to a follower, direct message (DM) or jump into a conversation or a topic by using a hashtag (#) and making it searchable. You can also retweet (RT) content. And please, whatever you do, remember to use a url shortener. We’ve been playing with Goo.gl and Anna recently touched on using a url shortener to track visits  here.

One of the most fabulous things about Twitter, in my opinion is that you can take it with you. You can tweet or receive tweets on the Twitter site, SMS, third party apps as well as RSS. I’m personally a big fan of Hootsuite as I can manage multiple Twitter accounts at once and monitor my replies, retweets and followers tweets all in one place.