I’ve been blogging for about a decade now. For the first several years I didn’t really know what I was doing in terms of SEO. I slowly became interested in the subject, however, and used my growing knowledge of it when building some small niche websites over the last three or four years.

Because these techniques were working and the search engine traffic to these sites was building slowly but steadily, I became obsessed with getting visitors this way. Ultimately I came to believe it was the only worthwhile approach to generating targeted traffic.

Obviously, optimizing a website for search engines requires much more than merely writing about subjects you know and enjoy. Among other things you have to do keyword selection and link building.

Matt HaydenWhile developing one particular niche website in late 2011 and early 2012, I put a lot of work into these aspects. For several months this approach was certainly bearing fruit. My site was steadily crawling up the rankings for my chosen keywords and I was making some money from the various affiliate products I was promoting on it.

The Penguin strikes back

Then at the end of April my quality, hard-earned traffic to this website just disappeared overnight! I subsequently realized that I had been hit by the dreaded Penguin update. While only those who work for Google know exactly why it will punish a site, I concluded my sin was related to link building. I had overused article marketing in particular, using anchor text that was too similar too often. This created an unnatural link profile, which was one of the things that Google was really cracking down on.

Needless to say, I should have seen this coming. And I was actually quite upset at first. After all, I’d done all that work over months only to see it all come to nought. I wasn’t trying to deceive Google. I was merely being overzealous.

But I finally came around to understanding why I had been punished. This was a valuable lesson.

It confirmed something that many SEO experts had been saying often in recent years: Google was becoming increasingly human-like in its ability to judge the quality of a page. And while off-site promotion remained worth doing, the thing you should focus on more than anything else was adding unique and interesting content.

And there was another factor at play here. In the months leading up to these developments, I was learning about the value of Twitter. Like many webmasters who loved getting that search engine traffic to their sites, I was very skeptical about it at first. Why put all that time and effort into tweeting silly little messages, I thought.

I decided to give it a go, though, and started several accounts. I found it a lot of fun to share stuff, and connect with other bloggers. And it definitely helped increase traffic to my sites through direct clicks.

Also, I noticed a small general lift in search traffic to the blogs and sites linked to my most active Twitter accounts. I’d read about how social media activity was now being taken into account by Google. Maybe this was it?

But the best thing about using Twitter was that my interactions on the site resulted in a few back links from other bloggers. And these voluntary one way links were valuable in the eyes of Google.

When tweets are sweet

It was then that I realized that social media was not just another way to bring traffic. It was actually a boon to SEO.

In retrospect this was all quite obvious. I had merely discovered for myself what Google had been recommending all the while. But if you get obsessed with one issue, as I had done, you can easily end up ignoring the wood for the trees –- or more specifically, the rankings for the tweets.

But I won’t be making that mistake again. From now on I’ll still be mindful of SEO when writing blogs and building websites. But I won’t waste time and energy fretting about it. Instead, I’ll be much more focused on adding good, interesting and unique content, as well as sharing it and other thoughts and links with my Twitter followers. This will be much more straightforward and enjoyable. It will also be better for getting search engine traffic in the long run.

Editor’s note:

Photo: arnoKath on flickr

Matt Hayden
Matt Hayden is an Australian blogger and webmaster. He has been interested in search engine optimization for several years and is becoming increasingly enthusiastic about social media, particularly Twitter. Follow him @ozblogsarticles.

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4 Responses to “The SEO Benefits of Twitter: A Personal Experience”

  1. themotherofallguilt

    I thought this article was great. I’m new at this whole seo malarkey and struggling to know what to do for the best to be honest. There is such contradictory advice. I guess I’ll just continue for now building an interesting and engaging site, mixed in with a little bit of tweeting and facebooking. It’s a very very slow process though. How many daily unique visitors would you expect a site thats about 3 months old to get in your experience? I set up my site http://www.themotherofallguilt.com and it really is a labour of love, so I’m happy to run with it, but at what point would you say enough is enough it’s just not working? I’d love to know your thoughts. Thanks

    Reply
    • Matt Hayden

      Yes, there is a lot of contradictory advice. That’s mostly due to the fact that Google is so secretive about how it ranks pages and only gives out general guides about what they consider best practice. (That’s why reading their webmaster guidelines is a good idea, BTW.) Search engine optimizers are forever trying to “back engineer” what’s going on algorithm-wise, and often draw inaccurate conclusions.

      Yes, keep going the way you are going. And I wouldn’t just do Facebook and tweets. There would be no harm in commenting on blogs in your niche and also writing and submitting the odd article to good directories like Ezine Articles. Just don’t overdo it. And make sure you vary your anchor text in backlinks a lot.

      Here’s a good article on link building now: http://www.seomoz.org/ugc/5-penguinfriendly-link-building-tips I’d do some Googling around related terms to find other pointers.

      It looks like you’ve got lots of good content up there already so I’d just keep adding it! Also, quite a few comments, so that’s a good sign. (Google indexes those too.)

      I couldn’t say how many hits you’d get after a while, or what’s an acceptable number, since traffic volume depends on so many factors (eg, niche popularity, competing sites, etc).

      But the search engine traffic will come (if it isn’t already). So don’t ever give up, whatever you do!

      Reply
      • themotherofallguilt

        Thank you so much for your response and the great words of advice and encouragement. I shall pop this all on my increasingly long to do list 🙁 and work my way through. I really really appreciate you taking your time to respond. Sorry for the slow response but this is the third time I’ve attempted to reply (fingers crossed it goes through)!!

        Reply

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