While Twitter isn't a Google killer, it's time to give it some credit. Twitter (and other social tools) can play an integral role in promotion of your content and generating links.
A recent article from Advertising Age was "retweeted" close to 1,800 times on Twitter (according to TweetMeme. Because this article about Twitter and local businesses went "viral" on Twitter, it's a good article to examine.
According to Yahoo Site Explorer, there are more than 1,800 links to the article. Many of them are from the adage.com domain (which certainly is expected). But, if we ignore all the internal links, we get close to 800 links from other Web sites. Certainly, Google helps examine more about this article if we search for the title of the article in quotes.
Many different sources link to and quote this article. The article is still being mentioned on Twitter and other Web sites as of the writing of this column (click on Google's new Show Options and then sort by Recent Results), even though it was originally posted on May 18. While we can't make a direct correlation between the fact that this went viral on Twitter and the acquisition of links, we can say that any kind of promotion of high quality content can and will lead to natural link generation.
So, how is the popularity of this article on Twitter related to the organic search engine rankings? It's showing in the top 10 Google search results for "Twitter local business." I don't have access to the specific Web stats for adage.com, but I'd bet that the article is being found for other phrases, as well.
The links alone (more than 700 links from other domains) will definitely help organic search engine rankings. As an article becomes more popular on the social networking Web sites, it gets more eyeballs. More people see it, read it, and, as we can see from this example, several bloggers have written about it.
This article is just one example. It could just as well be a blog post on your own Web site about your own industry.
By writing about something that's related to your own industry, and promoting it to your own contacts (perhaps tweeting on Twitter that you just wrote an article) and on the social bookmarking sites, as the URL gets mentioned and recommended to others, you will naturally get more links. And that helps your organic search engine rankings. Of course, this all starts -- and only works -- with the most important component: quality content.
So, how can you take advantage of Twitter and the other social networking Web sites to help your organic search engine rankings?
First, make sure you have a Twitter account (you can follow my company here) and start networking with others in your industry and others who you trust. You'll want to make sure that you personalize your account with a unique avatar and perhaps a unique background (there are several options, including paid options if you search for them.
Then, start following people you trust and the people they're following. Search for your main keyword phrase in Twitter Search and start replying to people who are talking about your keyword phrase.
Interact with your followers. Talk to people. Pretty soon you'll start getting new followers in your niche.
When you have a blog post or article that you'd like to promote, mention it on Twitter. Promote the URL of your article or blog post on other social networks. Ask your social networking contacts to submit it and tweet about it, or hire a social media marketing expert to help get the word out.
However you promote your site on the social networking Web sites, one thing's for certain: Google is watching. Real people have the ability to link to you from their Web site or blog, and/or to retweet it. And as the popularity grows, it will certainly help your organic search engine rankings.