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How To Optimize Twitter: Be Real, Profiles, RT, Hashtags & More

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Twitter loves me, Twitter loves me not.

Getting found and heard on Twitter isn’t as easy as the early days. Back then you could hang out and easily meet people at what was referred to as the largest online cocktail party.

Today you can still mix and mingle with top influencers, but the party is getting bigger and the saturation level is getting murkier. Twopchart’s latest figures, and countdown chart, show Twitter growing at a rate of around 11 accounts per second and reaching 500 million registered users this month.

Why is Twitter winning the social media race as the “go to” platform for breaking news and influencing others whether you are a top tier journalist, celebrity, brand or personality?

Simplicity and Visibility

Twitter’s popularity rose out of its simplicity. It’s notoriously the first platform to break news, share news and indexes faster than Google. In this world of uber connectivity, being simple and being first is key to influence and attracting. 

Twitter is also winning in visibility.

“Many of my clients get up to 26 percent of new traffic to websites or blogs from Twitter alone, particularly in the BtoB market,” said SES Twitter expert panelist Tracy Falke, owner of social branding agency.

How can a brand best optimize with the times and stay in the tweet game without losing time and money? Let us count the ways...in fact there are so many way in the form of strategies, best practices, tools, apps and platforms that this will be the first of a series of Search Engine Watch posts dedicated to Twitter optimization.

Keep it Real

Make sure you mix real personality and a real voice to your tweets and avoid being a robotic-like Twitter messenger (a.k.a., spammer). Don't be afraid to mix a couple few human tweets in with your business related tweets. In order to be engaging and interactive like the social media best practices call for, there is an entertainment factor when it comes to Twitter.

“If you’re going to join the conversation on Twitter, one of the most important things to remember is to keep it real,” Falke said. “Talk about your favorite band or throw in a comment about something outside of business like yoga, something that shows you are real.”

Optimizing the Twitter Profile

kristi-hines-kikolani-twitter-optimization

Optimizing your profile seems like a no-brainer, but it a social media shocker to see how many brands large and small skip some of these important strategies to rise above the competition. If you're still using the default egg as your image, it’s time to invest into some serious social media makeovers or a boot camp.

Examining the Twitter profile from an SEO perspective, Kristi Hines, expert social media blogger of Kikolani, shares this advice for getting the basics right in the social media profile:

  • SEO Title – Your Name (username) on Twitter: Your name under the Profile Settings and your username are the title tags for your profile. Keywords in your username are worthwhile if still available.
  • Profile Image – Filename and Your Name as ALT Tag: When it comes to your profile image, be sure to optimize it with a branded image and also by using your name as the filename. Twitter will automatically use your name under the Profile Settings as the ALT tag for your profile image as well.
  • Keywords in Your Bio: Your Twitter bio information is key and it is important to front load your bio with strategic keywords. Services like Klout pull your Twitter bio information as your Klout profile description. FollowerWonk, Formulists, and other Twitter search engines use keywords in your bio in search results when people are looking for similar tweeps to follow. You can also include a hashtag, link or another Twitter handle if applicable.

Tweet Structure

Dissecting the semantics of a tweet gives us some blueprint for a best practice, but keep in mind this isn't a one-size-fits-all deal. Keep it real and get in your own groove. This is the order for a best practice:

  1. Headline or phrase
  2. Link
  3. Hashtag - using hashtags that large influencers use will get you noticed by people in those niche circles

Example:

tracy-falke-twitter-image-search-optimization

Hashtag Tips

The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet. For best practices with hashtags, follow these expert tips:

  • No more than three hashtags per tweet.
  • Avoid starting a tweet with a hashtag, this gives a robotic and spammy impression.
  • Find hashtags by performing a keyword search just like you would Google, use the ones that move fastest and seem to best fit your topic area.
  • Hashtag caution: Too many hyperlinks (hashtags) will actually devalue the tweet.

“I am not a huge fan of using hashtags to attract clicks, but if done carefully you can get your carefully crafted clickbait in front of people who are monitoring or searching for them. I wouldn't sacrifice the quality of a good tweet headline for hashtags though,” advises SES Twitter panelist Paul Madden

Retweet Strategy

The act of forwarding another user's tweet to all of your followers; how you retweet is an important part of your Twitter strategy.

  • If you are using the RT button on Twitter, just hitting the RT is reserved for high level influences.
  • Cutting and pasting the Tweet into the Tweet box and the semantics of RT = Headline, link, hashtag, RT @______, your comment
    Or
  • Your own comment or headline, your own content, link via @twitterID you are sourcing
  • How to get indexed by Google: RT a very popular tweet that you want your name to be associated with
  • Ask for it!

“If you make sure that any Twitter account you are involved with is fully engaged with people in a community or niche then you will attract retweets naturally, if you are perceived as a trusted friend then also don't be afraid to ask via DM for a retweet too,” Madden said.

Twitter Measurement

If you track your Twitter progress using Google Analytics it lets you see important CEO metrics such as referring traffic to a website or blog. Bitly can also be used on a single account and multiple client accounts and has a Chrome extension that lets you shorten, share, and track links with your bitly account, right from your browser!

Twitter Favorites

Favorites, represented by a small star icon next to a tweet, are most commonly used when users like a tweet and wish to save it for later. For example, when someone tweets something nice about you, your brand, service, etc., mark it as a favorite so it is always saved to in your Twitter history. Otherwise it gets pushed into Twitter's vast, annoying to search archives and eventually becomes virtually impossible to trace.

To Be Continued...

So many Twitter tips, so little space. Watch for the next how to optimize Twitter in this multi-part series. Please feel free to make suggestions you would like to see covered in a Twitter social search strategy.


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