The Twitter NoFollow myth debunked

I hear it all the time: “Twitter links are useless from an SEO standpoint because Twitter nofollows everything.” (Remember that nofollow is a way of indicating to the search engines that a particular link shouldn’t pass “credit” from a search engine standpoint. It’s a way of discouraging spammers from abusing Twitter, blogs, and sites.)

If you believe that, you’re absolutely wrong!

While it is true that Twitter does place nofollow tags on all links within tweets, that doesn’t mean that everything you place in a tweet will be nofollowed.


Let me explain.

There is a whole ecosphere that has grown up around Twitter posts.

  1. There are many sites that aggregate the Twitter posts of major thinkers in a particular marketplace into one place. Those sites can choose whether to nofollow the links in the twitter posts or not.
  2. Twitter feeds can be used as the foundation for RSS feeds. So you can add your Twitter feed to your blog or site, for example. Again, you have the choice whether you want to nofollow those links or not, in fact, if you’re doing it right now, you’re probably NOT nofollowing them! You can see my twitter feed archive here.
  3. Other services like Google Reader, Topsy, or Twitter search engines, may choose to not add nofollow tags to your links

I think you get the picture.

Here’s where this becomes important – the impact of these factors increases with your popularity. The higher the quality of your tweets, the higher the likelihood that you’re going to get picked up by others and your tweeted links getting SEO credit…

Literally making great tweeting an incredibly lucrative pass time. (Presuming the pages you link to can actually make you money!)

So, it makes sense to spend the time and effort to get popular on Twitter!

Remember however, that improved search engine rankings is a side benefit, a very nice side benefit, but still a SIDE benefit of social media. Social media, when used correctly, drives traffic and creates relationships. Those are the primary benefits (not bad ones at that), so if you’re using social media solely for links, you’re not doing it the right way, and your traffic is probably suffering.

One other tip – remember to use URL shorteners that use 301 redirects, NOT 302 redirects. (A 301 redirect tells the search engines that this is a permanent redirect, versus a temporary 302 redirect. Search engines pass link credit through 301 redirects, not 302’s.)

URL shorteners that pass 301 redirects include

  • BudURL (if you select the 301 redirect option)
  • bit.ly
  • tinyurl

Ow.ly, the tool used by hootsuite, unfortunately, does NOT use 301 redirects.

What conclusions can we gain from this?

  1. Recognize that the more popular you are on Twitter (not in terms of number of followers, in terms of number of people who read your posts, retweet them, aggregate them on other sites, etc.) the more likely you are to have your links pass search engine value. Spend time and effort to increase that popularity.
  2. Make sure that the posts that you really want to pass link value go through a service that passes 301 redirects, even if those you don’t care about passing link value use a different shortener.
  3. Take advantage of opportunities to embed your social feed stream on other locations, increasing the number of opportunities you have to get solid link credit for your pages.
  4. Add “Tweet this” links on pages on your blogs and sites, basically everyplace you can, so as to increase the links those pages receive.
  5. Say things that people want to tweet and retweet! The more other people tweet you, the more links you build!

How else have you used Twitter to add value to your business? Let me know in the comments below!

Don Crowther

Don Crowther is a leading marketing, business strategy and online marketing expert. He helps companies ranging from Fortune-500-level giants to entrepreneurs make more money online using proven strategic and marketing techniques.