As many of you know I developed the Twitter Toolbar for Firefox a while back. Downloads are going well, and usage just keeps going up, up, up. It also means more traffic for me. Each time someone tweets with it, I get a link to my site, and for everyone that has the toolbar, they can find bookmarks to my site. Basically, I get traffic out of it, and until just recently I got massive backlinks from it. Did Twitter make a big mistake by adding nofollow?
Every Tweet Was a Backlink
Recently Twitter just did a little SEO work on their site, and as a result of it, they have converted outbound links into nofollows. If you look at how a tweet is made using the toolbar, you can see how I get a link out of it.
The “from Twitter Toolbar” as seen above is a link to my toolbar page, and it is now a nofollow. They also made everyones profile link a nofollow as well. So, for me, that is 30,000 and growing Tweets that no longer add SEO value to my site.
Reading this, you could say Boo Hoo for me, but it is also bad news for the 5,000 and growing plugins, add-ons, and clients that developers created for Twitter. Think time and energy developing those tools will decrease now? I do.
Another Blow to Twitter
Twitter has been suffering from a number of setbacks lately, but I believe this one is self inflected. Optimizing for search engines is a good idea, but for 140 characters? In a recent post I made about Twitter you can read how I feel they have no advantage for search engines. First, it’s not like my Tweets are getting search engine traffic (mainly because they cannot compete with a real blog post or web page), and second, it’s not what Twitter is about.
Twitter is not about generating content, it’s about communicating, and passing information. Links included in Tweet should hold value, and they should be a do follow for search engines. Why else would you Tweet them? Just to spam? Spam may be a significant case, but it’s taking the “assume it’s spam first perspective”.
Assume Those Links are Spam
Taking the perspective that all links posted in Twitter are not innocently posted in reference to a quality content, but are in fact just spam to get backlinks or page views. What will Twitter be then? Taking a quick look at the recent updates from the nearly 4,000 people I follow, more than 50% of the tweets included links. Kill off the “Spammers” and you have 50% or less tweets. That could be a significant blow to the number of users that visit Twitter on a regular basis. Marketers know that tweets hardly get clicked, so what the heck does Twitter have left? A very small user base, that’s what.
You could also say that my perspective is that of only someone trying to use or see Twitter as a marketing platform. Well you are partially right. Ask President Obama if it’s a effective marketing platform. It can work, but it’s now simply out of hand. If you are following too many tweets simply don’t get seen. I wonder if Obama’s campaign would have worked as well on Twitter today.
Personally, I think adding the nofollow to all their links was a really bad idea. What do you think? Think Twitter is a spam engine? Think Twitter is purely a marketing platform. I’m thinking Twitter better get a solid business model quick, or it’s dead.