Helping friends not Twitter Spammers

You may have recently heard how Twitter, Facebook and Buzz factor into Bing and Google search results. I was somewhat concerned when I read that article. I was concerned because I think it will encourage spammers and SEO games with twitter and further clog up an already difficult to manage stream of information. I wrote about your sources being much more important than your followers earlier this year but it is becoming even more critical today and that is why I am revisiting this issue. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. When you follow a spammer, your good name makes it more likely for other legitimate people to follow them.
  2. By adding to their follower count you increase their reach and improve the SEO of the garbage they are pimping.

Follow the leader, they love the spammer

Remember the Honda motorcycle jingle (maybe you don’t but that’s alright, you didn’t grow up with that 2 wheel culture?):

Follow the leader, he’s on a Honda.

Your vote of confidence and good name could really make the difference between someone that respects you following or not following an unscrupulous user. In fact it is one of the things I’ve weighed in my decisions on whether or not to follow someone. Take this example, I clicked to find a random Twitter user, for this example let’s pretend that @katyzack just followed me:

Katy Zack on Twitter

As you can see in this initial view of Katy’s profile I note that several trusted sources of mine are already following her. This scores some kudo/follow back points, but note when I click through to see who the 10+ others were I saw this trio in the list:

Credible Followers

This is indeed good news for Katy, a couple of my #infosec sources follow her and my pal Gini Dietrich as well. I wouldn’t even think twice about following Katy now. This is an example of an obvious credible user but imagine if one of these folks that I respect followed another user with shall we say less than admirable selfish intentions? This is in fact the point I am trying to make:

Your good name could encourage me to follow someone I probably shouldn’t

Passing on Twitter Juice

According to the article I cited earlier the authority of a user is impacted by the number of followers they have (Bing) and both Bing and Google calculate the authority of all Twitter users. My argument here is simpler:

Follow a Spammer and you are improving their SEO

Summary and Conversation Fodder

Sources are becoming more and more crucial, you want to pass along democratic SEO happiness to quality folks but certainly don’t want to help saturate the Twitter Firehouse. With benefit of this information are you going to reconsider your Twitter policy? There is one heck of a post and comment thread about Twitter policies on Spinsucks. I’d imagine these recent developments could re-start that debate? What do you think?

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