Using your Twitter followers to increase your search visibility

Today, I’m attendingĀ Social Slam in Knoxville, TN, for the third time and speaking on SEO for the second time on behalf on Grizzard Communications Group. At the rock bottom price of <$100 for a ticket combined with the fact that there are speakers like Mitch Joel, Jay Baer, Matt Ridings, Tom Webster, and more, it’s an event that’s hard to miss.

As part of my panel, I’m dealing with the now well-established intersection of search and social. The hot topics right now are Facebook’s Graph Search, the continued inclusion of social signals from all over the social web, and Google+ in some circles, but one thing that people overlook is the dead simple idea of cultivating your Twitter followers to get links, which will not only increase your social reach and influence due to increased interaction and sharing, but also bump you up in search results due to the growth of your social signals and increase in links.

Take conference lead Mark Schaefer for example.

I picked Mark because we’ve now known each other for years, and he’s focused so much on social media in recent years that the SEO benefits are just waiting to be had.

To look at what Twitter-related SEO opportunities exist for Mark, I pulled all of Mark’s inbound links using SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer in order to find out who links to him. This showed me that Mark has 15,744 inbound links from 2,642 websites.

For the second and last step in the data collection, I exported a list of 49,999 of Mark’s 58,259 Twitter followers from SEOmoz’s followerwonk. I looked at only a sample of Mark’s followers due to a download problem I was having with followerwonk. Otherwise, I would have looked at more.

Mixing up some Twitter and SEO goodness

There are so many other good things we can do with this data, but today’s post just relates to using your Twitter followers to increase your search visibility. If you go to Grizzard.com and subscribe to the blog, I promise a much more comprehensive post there within the next few weeks.

For today’s purposes though, I opened the inbound links file and the Twitter followers file in Excel and then stripped the http:// and www. from the beginning of all of the URLs. The reason for this is that it is common for some people to link to the www version of a URL and for others to link to the non-www version of a URL, and I don’t want that messing up my data, so I just strip those off the beginning of all URLs. To do this, I recommend using a Find and Replace of a formula like:

=IF(RIGHT(IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH(“www.”,A2)),RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-SEARCH(“www.”,A2)-3),RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-SEARCH(“//”,A2)-1)),1)=”/”,IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH(“www.”,A2)),RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-SEARCH(“www.”,A2)-3),RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-SEARCH(“//”,A2)-1)),CONCATENATE(IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH(“www.”,A2)),RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-SEARCH(“www.”,A2)-3),RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-SEARCH(“//”,A2)-1)),”

For what it’s worth, Mark’s site has both URL rewriting and a rel=”canonical” tag, so even if the official version of a page is www.businessesgrow.com and someone is linking to businessesgrow.com, he’s still getting all or most of the value of the link. If he wasn’t using the canonical tag, he’d be missing a lot of the value.

Next, I filtered Mark’s Twitter followers to only show those that list websites along with their Twitter bio and had a vlookup see if it could find each domain in the set of websites linking to Mark’s site. This gave me 37,878 total Twitter followers with websites and only 596 linking to Mark.

@MarkWSchaefer's Twitter Followers

What does it mean to get a link from a Twitter follower?

One of the benefits of using your Twitter followers to build links to your site is that you often don’t have to “do SEO,” which I know a lot of social media folks and probably Mark would appreciate. You engage these people on Twitter, offer a guest post or an interview, give the person an idea for a post, etc, and if they respond positively, not only do you get a link and exposure to their website audience, but you also get exposure to their social media audience as a result of sharing, which increases your social reach and your social visibility.

For what it’s worth also, Mark’s nonlinking Twitter followers have a total of 48 million followers themselves.

Extra special bonus if you subscribe

I’m talking about this and more in my SEO panel at Social Slam, but if you can’t/didn’t make it, I’ll have a huge post within the next few weeks dealing with this, competitive analysis, and more. If you subscribe to Grizzard’s blog, I promise you’ll get a lot of value out of the comprehensive post once it goes up.

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