Meagan Parrish

Over the last year, Twitter marketing has become a major component of businesses‘ overall marketing campaigns. As Brafton has reported, the microblogging site has seen some major milestones in the five years since it was created. With more than 400,000 new users reportedly signing up each day and 140 million Tweets being sent daily, it’s more important now than ever to jump on the Twitter bandwagon.

Using the microblogging site as a marketing tool is a cost-effective strategy that offers access to millions of users across various demographics, locations and industries. One of the most beneficial attributes Twitter can bring is its instant, real-time search capabilities.

Google and other leading search engines require content pages to be indexed before they can be found via search, but Tweets can be discovered instantly online. With its traditional web and mobile compatibility, Twitter has gradually become one of the strongest platforms for real-time information sharing.

Top news providers, including The New York Times and CNN, have already taken advantage of this benefit through breaking news and media alerts. Twitter (and social media, in general) should be part of businesses‘ content marketing strategies, as well.

In addition to getting an instant edge via immediately-published Tweets, businesses should use Twitter to distribute timely, branded content. As Brafton has reported, Google’s Matt Cutts suggests distributing site content via Twitter is an increasingly important way to boost SEO.

Here’s a basic guideline to maximize the SEO-friendliness of your Twitter account, as well as the content you share via the microblogging site:

Step 1: Choose a Twitter username that reflects your business, whether it’s the company’s name or hits keywords relevant to your brand, products or services. This username creates a static address for search indexing. Note: Your username can only be 15 characters (or less).

Don’t confuse the name of your profile with your username. Your username will be used within the unique static URL for your brand, and you’ll enter it when you log into your profile. The name of your profile appears alongside your username in your Twitter title tag, and it can be up to 20 characters long. In a lot of cases, your company name might be too long or it may be ill-suited for a username, but you can still have the option to use it as your profile name for search purposes. For example, StaplesTweets is the company’s username, where Staples U.S. is the profile name – and the profile name is the leading phrase in search results.

Step 2: Create a keyword-rich bio that includes your top keywords or search phrases. This will make it easy for Twitter users searching for relevant info within the site to find your brand. Plus, the bio becomes the Meta Description in search engines (see the Staples example!).

Step 3: Add a URL to your company website to drive traffic from Twitter to your domain. Using your Twitter profile to create an inbound link to your site is a simple but smart SEO move.

Step 4: Once your profile is set up, include a call-to-action on your website directing your visitors to follow you on Twitter. This helps drive the URL up in search. You can accomplish this through a Twitter icon linking to your Twitter page or with a link at the bottom of your website. You can also add Twitter share buttons to your individual content pages.

Adding Twitter share buttons across your site is a great way to promote social sharing – and this can boost your search engine visibility. For example, Google Realtime results will push your brand to the top of queries related to your content any time users tweet your articles.

Step 5: Now it’s time to compose your Tweets and take advantage of the real-time, long-term index relevance across search. This step has some layers to it…

In order to effectively interact with a Twitter audience, one must first realize how to take advantage of Twitter and engage in the latest trends. So what can marketers do to get messages across with only 140 characters per Tweet? First, consider the character limit an advantage (not an obstacle). You can say things simply without having to spend hours on a single Tweet.

1. Just like your bio, keep your Tweets keyword-rich, and consider that the first few words may have the largest impact on SEO value. At the same time, don’t be spammy! You can say things that are industry-relevant throughout the day by sharing Tweets based on industry news. (Did we mention that stats show news content drives traffic to Twitter?)

2. Try to include the top Twitter trends in your Tweets when possible to take advantage of popular searches. Aside from viewing the trends within Twitter, here’s a great website that lets you view popular hashtags in real time according to location:

3. Share the content you publish on your site via Twitter. Businesses are increasingly publishing regularly updated site content to see improved search rankings and become an industry leader in their realms.

Tweets containing a keyword-rich headline with a back link redirecting users to the full content page can be a great way to drive traffic, and this makes it easy for users to share your information across the web. Investing in custom news content could be an ideal way to generate interesting web content that will also engage the news-hungry, growing Twitter audience.

These Twitter basics will help you set up an SEO-friendly account. Then you can get creative to attract new audiences and maximize the success of your Twitter campaigns – and the microblogging site may be a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader and attract followers that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Unlike Facebook, which is a much more personal medium, Twitter users are known to connect at both high and low intimacy levels. Twitter users follow their family and friends, but they’re also likely to follow users they deem thought leaders in areas of interest to them – from celebrities to trusted companies. Takeaway: Keep those Tweets search-friendly to get discovered, and make sure the information is industry relevant and fresh!

Want to take your Twitter marketing further? Here are some of the ways businesses are already relying on Twitter:
1. Job Posts: In this economy showing that you’re hiring is a plus. It’s also a plus to followers looking for work.
2. Promotional Tweets: @JetBlueCheeps does a great job of offering deals, and this is how they build an audience.
3. Customer interaction: Using @replies is a great way to directly engage a social audience that is interested in your services. See @Starbucks for an example!
4. Customer service: The channel offers direct access to users with questions about services. @comcastcares does this well.
5. Brand development: Maybe you work for a new or small business. Becoming active and engaging on Twitter may boost brand awareness.

Thanks for reading, happy tweeting!