Twitter Nofollow – My 7 Day Ultimatum

Unlike many people in the SEO, Tech or Marketing community, I don’t write posts just for linkbait & traffic, and when I make up my mind about whether I want to continue being involved in a community, that decision is final.

But I am giving Twitter a chance… 7 days

@andybeard account deletion
[fergcorp_cdt_single date=”Wed, 24 Feb 2010 23:30:43 +100″]

Last time I decided to leave a community where I was highly active was actually 2 years ago when I left Sphinn over moderation issues – at the time I was in the top 3 users. I haven’t been actively involved there since.
(note: I will be releasing the premium content I was discussing for free sometime in the next few weeks as those I told have had a nice 2 year window to exploit it – I never charged for the info)

2 years ago Sphinn was pretty much my default “misc” feed reader – in some ways Twitter has replaced it – you know… that place you go to read cool stuff you wouldn’t have otherwise seen because you can’t cope with reading everything.

The Final Straw For Twitter

Twitter have been progressively screwing up their SEO for a few years, but sometime early this morning they took it one stage too far.
It was first noted by Jeff Bentley
who is a dodgy search marketer so obviously I trust linking to him a lot more than linking to Twitter where you can’t trust the links.
Twitter Nofollow Discovery
It was also spotted by Malcolm before I published a few other tweeters – he wasn’t going mad, but I probably am.

What Twitter are saying in this most recent change is that the people I associate with and have regular conversations with on Twitter are not to be trusted, and that all juice should go to their blogroll icons in the sidebar which are the people I most recently followed – really funny with accounts that autofollow people back is that most of the blogroll links on their accounts are to spammers.

Twitter Nofollow Example

There are people I follow purely for competitive intelligence or communication – some of them I would never link to from this blog or would nofollow, but on Twitter it is just too inconvenient to use other methods.

I realise Twitter content when syndicated can result in followed links, after all I have been pimping my Tweetglide blog (which has 6x as many tweets indexed in Google as my Twitter account) and if I was to feed tweets to my account on Google Buzz, they would be clean links there as well (though maybe they don’t pass juice)

I also realise now content is being piped directly to Google from Twitter, that whether it has nofollows in public might not have any negative effect on the ranking benefit of any links to content, because Google is gaining clean data.

However I find Twitter favouring the links in the sidebar over the links to people I talk to insulting.

Twitter Google CacheThe thing is now Twitter are giving data to Google, Google have no interest at all in crawling Twitter in a traditional manner.

A cache date of over 10 days ago for a PR6 site is quite frankly laughable.
You can see very clearly that in that screenshot the links between people I am talking to don’t have a nofollow.

Every time I look at the Twitter website all the nofollow links make me want to vomit.


I have thought about it for the last 8 hours and it is the only viable solution – if I maintain the account then people will use it to contact me, it is prominently in the SERPs and I have close to 8000 organic followers (I never autofollowed, offered incentives etc)
I will probably leave the account live, but I will delete all the people I am following and all the tweets and then post something generic pointing people to appropriate pages such as my contact page.

All Or Nothing Twitter

If Twitter want to nofollow, it should be all the links or none of them – yes all those “blogroll” links and links to lists need to be nofollowed as well. They could go all the way and nofollow everything with nofollow in the header, but that would be extreme.

The alternative is to remove nofollow completely and let Google sort it out by themselves… they are good at that.

2 very simple acceptable options

@andybeard account deletion
[fergcorp_cdt_single date=”Wed, 24 Feb 2010 23:30:43 +100″]

Most likely you may want to follow me on Google Buzz, as I expect my Twtter account to become an empty corpse in 7 days

Twitter Nofollow conversation on Buzz


Here is a link to a public Buzz indexing test I am running – I have others running in private

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  1. says

    Andy, first of all, I love that the screen shot you posted has my name at the top twice! :)

    Second of all, I don’t really get why this is an issue for you. Yes all the nofollow crap seems like nonsense to me & no I don’t like it but I don’t really see how this will have any negative impact on anyone.

    Basically, my question is, why do you care? Deleting your account over such a small change seems strange to me. Plus, I’m sure as hell not going to be using Google buzz & would like to keep you on Twitter so…

    • says

      I liken this to when a brewery chain decides to switch managers and the atmosphere just takes a turn for the worse, or when you get a new boss at a job (ages since I worked for anyone) and you just don’t click.

      The only people who are going to even notice this are SEOs, and for 3 years I have been moaning about how much the Twitter blogroll sucks. I am consistant.

      You wil end up in buzz eventually, even if you use Twitter as your interface. No doubt this comment form will eventually be buzz as well whether natively or somehow imported.

  2. Josh says

    Having just started following your tweets I’d hate to see you go, but I understand why. I’ve read a lot of articles and posts on why Twitter is a good smm outlet, its good to finally read something from someone whose used it for an extended period of time and able to make an educated decision on it. If you don’t mind when you leave twitter I’ll track you down on Buzz.

  3. says

    Andy, I’m in the “gonna miss your presence” camp. Since I didn’t see a “subscribe by email” option here, I don’t know how often I’ll actually remember to check in on your latest either. And I’ll never be on Buzz, because I don’t do GMail, and Buzz is just one more privacy suck for Google.

    As far as your reason for leaving, I can’t argue that it’s not valid, because I understand the concept that you’ve come to rely on Twitter to provide the link value that’s now in question. Personally, I’ve never used Twitter for it’s link value, instead using it purely for industry connections and social media presence aspects. And I also think that Google or any other search engine sucking up Tweets just pollutes the SERPs even more. But hey – we all do what we gotta do, right?

    • says

      I have a feeling GBuzz will be everywhere as it is just an interface for the transportable messaging system. Delve into the API a little and the future plans. I am convinced it will replace the message system on YouTube soon enough.

      As for my decision, Twitter keep driving nails in the coffin – a blog post just moaning about it without having some form of reaction regarding my patronage just didn’t seem worth it. I don’t like my social profiles linking to people who I don’t necessarily endorse, yet not linking to people I do.

      Email subscriptions are there, but it is Feedburner and sucks mightily – a replacement is coming so I just don’t push it, plus you could look on it as doing a “null” test.

  4. says

    Hello Andy,

    Interestingly ‘strange’ this move is. Do you have an idea if Google ‘fixes’ such practices internally or if they have done so for other sites? That is, just acknowledging “the votes” given by the users nevertheless even when “the wrong” links are followed respectively nofollowed.

    If Google does not, it means they accepts an enormous loss of — let’s call it — meta data.
    If they do, what does ‘nofollow’ mean at the end of the day.

    Whatever you do, I wish you well.

    I haven’t checked out Buzz yet.
    Seems you are giving me a reason to do so.


    • says

      The thing is Google have their own trust metrics for individuals in Social Media, as demonstrated with Sidewiki

      They know all my public points of presence through their social graph API, and the stream of data they get doesn’t have nofollows, as that is just imposed by Twitter to rank spam accounts, or to ensure they always rank in the top 3 for all users names.

  5. says

    Okay I feel stupid but I have no idea what you’re talking about. I know a bit about nofollow although I can never understand it completely. What’s a twitter blogroll? I’ve never heard that before. I’m so lost.

    • says

      Hugh, If am correct Andy have not retweeted himself this post. So even if it is an excellent link-bait post- he did not use Twitter for the purpose of linkbait, he used his own blog.

      • says

        I posted the Twitter link twice once when published and once after 13 hours for the guys in the UK on their lunchbreak – no more than any other post.

        I don’t use Twitterfeed, and I don’t always tweet blog posts

        Do I want as many people to read this so it might get Twitter’s attention? Sure…

        It is not however something I planned, I am just reacting to the change as I have reacted to previous changes

    • says

      Doesn’t that make every article linkbait or failed linkbait in your opinion?

      If I had just written the news and been outraged and postured, as it typical, that would be linkbait or more appropraitely newsbait in some cases.

      Deleting my account in this instance is both adding a little weight to my words, but also a practical matter as I have discussed on the Google buzz conversation and I will probably elaborate on in a followup post as there are some genuine reasons it has to be done and a specific methodology that needs to be followed.

  6. says

    I never really liked Twitter anyway. If you follow more than a few people it becomes really hard to keep track. Those who want to keep up with you can quite easily check your blog.

    Is the nofollow a way of Twitter trying to control the spammers? It seems strange since you can just unfollow anyone who spams you.

  7. says

    I like the post and the threat to defect, but I don’t think it’s warranted. Google is most-definitely following the “nofollow” links, and I suspect that – contrary to what Matt Cutts tells us – Twitter links aren’t “falling” out of the link graph. Google is clearly weighing some Twitter profiles more than other, which undoubtedly means they’re assigning some value to outbound links (nofollow or not).

    I think Google likes a world where most links are nofollow’ed – it forces the SEO community to focus on marketing rather than “tricks” to promote a website. Twitter’s change eliminates one of those tricks.

    • says

      Possibly, but just like Wikipedai there is an attribution concern.

      I am a blogger and SEO… someone taking away the ability for me to attribute someone with a live link, to give someone a little boost in the SERPs etc is alien to me.

      I can see a time Google will tell link shorteners to block using robots.txt all paid links. Some aspects of what Google do are very advanced, though I don’t think they ever tell webmasters anything close to the full story, especially with nofollow.

      I use the Twitter web interface most of the time, it is really ugly in pink.

      Twitter is full of paid links, maybe this is another step to counteract that

    • says

      I tend to agree that Google is taking some notice of nofollow links although I can offer no explanation.
      You can’t really blame Twitter and Google for trying to deliver what they intended to deliver.
      A big problem is that marketers are obviously always looking for a quick and easy way to get a link.
      It’s a shame that more do not realize that giving good information with real value is more likely to get them a click. That the extra time it takes to sit and think about what they write is time well spent if the result is traffic as well as the value of the link.
      Even if the link has no juice it can still have great value and the best way to achieve it is by giving great value.
      People should want to click on your link, that’s what links are for.

  8. says


    I’ve just been searching for recent blog posts from people who might be interested in Twitter tools, and found your blog. Would you be interested in reviewing TweetingMachine, our recently-launched Twitter tool? If so, please let me know and I’ll get back to you with a login. No expectations, if you like the product then great, otherwise, well, it gives us something to work on ;)


  9. says

    Twitter’s decision to add rel=”nofollow” to the majority of links is ridiculous. They’ve got a good enough spam system in place that tracks and removes malicious users and bots, so there’s no good reason why they should be doing it. Hopefully they’ll read this and realise their mistake but it’s very doubtful…

    • says

      Regarding Twitter’s decision to add rel=”nofollow” to the majority of links, I think Twitter itself is becoming paranoid in its quest to remove those users and bots with malicious intents. And in doing so, they are now starting to step on the toes of the ‘honest johns’.
      If more and more guys like Andy Beard show their disgust at what Twitter is doing wrong, given the ‘critical mass’, Twitter might see the error of their ways.

  10. says

    LOL, it looks like a deathclock to me…haha. Like everything, there’s always a downside, but you use it if the pros outweigh the cons.

  11. says

    I have just started on the whole Twitter ‘phenomenon’ and after reading your posts on your site with some frquency I think it’s a shame that you have decided to leave you Twitter account behind. Don’t get me worng, I can completely understand you standpoint – but you seem disapoointed that the account will expire. A few of my friends have recently swtitched to Google Buzz, however there has been a series of privacy lapses by Google which granted, have now been resolved, but it may take a while for this social networking service to become, well, an authoritative social networking service. It may be to your detriment to leave Twitter behind. As you said yourself, you post to post information and interact and not to produce links for seo marketing agencies! Is it worth it?

  12. says

    Google Buzz is no Twitter! Don’t get me wrong, I understand your standpoint as regards Twitter, but Google Buzz has had an aray of privacy lapses and is still struggling to make a mark in the social networking field. You seem disappointd at the thought of leaving your Twitter account to just expire, but, as Michelle quite rightly says above, if the pros outweigh the cons then who are we to judge! I am new to the whole Twitter ‘phenomenon’ but I can’t say that I am interested in Google Buzz, it just doesn’t seem as time-effective or user friendly.

  13. says

    I think Twitter’s decision to add rel=”nofollow” to links that it sees as malicious just goes to show how paranoid they are now. Even to the point of stepping on the ‘toes’ of the ‘honest johns’ like Andy Beard, etc.
    If more and more bloggers show their disgust over Twitter’s ways, and reaching ‘critical mass’, Twitter might get to see the error of its ways.

  14. Lex says

    Wow this is really interesting, I mean – they are shooting themselves in the foot aren’t they? I’d hang in there, they will surely realise it soon enough…

  15. Neill says

    Strange that this seems to coincide with more twitter results appearing higher in the Google search results?

  16. Register Optimizer says

    Personally, I’ve never used Twitter for it’s link value, instead using it purely for industry connections and social media presence aspects. And I also think that Google or any other search engine sucking up Tweets just pollutes the SERPs even more.

  17. says

    actually andy, i dont understand about twitter with no follow. but i think promote in twitter can make a chance our website have many visitor.

  18. says

    It seems to be a trend among most prominent websites espeically in the social media world to stop letting people use their website to vote. I notice that facebook uses redirects when I update blog posts on my profile. I hate to see the web becoming so no follow, but I guess it is the only way to keep spammers away.

  19. says

    Hi Andy. I request you not to delete your account. Ratherkeep a pace on the spammers or block the unwanted ones. I never really liked Twitter anyway. If you follow more than a few people it becomes really hard to keep track. Those who want to keep up with you can quite easily check your blog. I hate to see the web becoming so no follow.

  20. says


    I would love to see intelligent, productive people like you getting OFF twitter.

    Twitter has become a cult-like social thing like TMZ.

    I was absolutely SHOCKED that Time Magazine had a cover story on Twitter a few months back. I’ve been twittering for several months and truly have found the return on my investment in terms of time to be in negative territory.

  21. says

    It doesn’t seem to make much sense to me. The pure communication value alone from twitter by far out weigh this trivial defect of nofollow. Sure you can use Buzz, but I don’t think it will catch on (and I could be wrong). In it’s current form, I can’t see how Buzz will possibly replace twitter for you. But alas, I bid you farewell and good luck on your new adventure without twitter.

  22. says

    I think twitter is on the way to make money, so in next time comes a webmaster-account and you can set all links follow for small 29 $ a month… so i see so many things are for free, but after a while they want cash for their work..

  23. says

    Have you made up your mind yet? Buzz may have do follow links but it’s horrible in every other way in my opinion..

    • says

      You are probaby looking just at the current interface and not at the underlying technology.

      I can search Buzz for everything I have said just by using [is:buzz keyword] within Gmail – nothing ever gets lost. I have Buzz filtered out of my inbox using is:buzz as well, and just switch to see any replies 2x per day.

      Twitter can’t be searched and they made it that way deliberately.

  24. says

    Sometimes I think Twitter is more of a headache than anything. Well that’s not entirely true. It does serve it’s purpose for the most part. It seems like deletion of your account is such a drastic measure – that’s an awful lot of followers you’ve built up.

  25. says

    Very interesting post/analysis! Being that I’m in the marketing/seo field, and follow a mindset similar to yours, I am I stumbled upon this article.

    Keep up the good work Andy!


  26. says

    Twitter is just the latest site to have drank the nofollow kool-aid. Sebastian covers it, with a bit of a surprise twist at the end.

  27. says

    I haven’t been here for a while but this post is really interesting. I actually thought the same thing long time ago–abandoning Twitter. I don’t benefit much about gaining traffic from Twitter although I have made friends along the way, perhaps for the meantime, it’s going to stay a bit.

    What also struck me is your post linked here about your leaving Sphinn. Their moderation practices is really appalling but what is severely hateful about Sphinn is when an Admin (McGee) desphunn my post (recently) and first commented on it telling the whole world that he’s having some loading issues about my post because of the above the fold ads which I don’t think is that terrible enough to be proclaimed all over their site that is was he’s worst ever reading experience on a blog. He better read some blogspot blogs (with too many widgets) to educate himself more before judging a blog.

    It was very unbecoming of an Admin of a social media aggregate to unwittingly humiliate a blog because of his own page loading trouble. I emailed their support to remove my account because it’s very anti-blogger, anti-internet marketer move but have not received a reply.

  28. says

    When Twitter first came out, people regarded it as one of the top tools for internet marketing, there were however critics that claimed that Twitter maybe the talk of the town.. err blogs at the moment but this trend isn’t going to continue, I was skeptic at first but these turn of events made me stop using twitter altogether and many web marketers have dropped twitter from their list. Unless twitter does not change this, it could potentially lose all those members that use twitter on a daily basis

  29. says

    There has to be a better way! Simple as that. Twitter’s use of no follow is pretty ridiculous in my opinion. But even worse are when the links are stripped out of a Tweet when displayed in Google and other search engine’s SERPs. To me, that’s just wasted real estate in search engine result pages. [throwing up arms in frustration]