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Is Spamming Twitter Good Google SEO?

A Dutch design and development firm Conceptables noticed some odd behavior regarding Google’s use of the Twitter API during their development of Mopinion, an online feedback tool. It appears that simply repeating the same tweet over and over was having an impact on the actual Google search results.

To test this theory, the developers created several fake Twitter accounts tweeting out generic buzz words like “social media,” “client interaction” (in Dutch) and “feedback” along with links to the Mopinion website. The result? The Mopion site moved up in the Google search results.

Apparently, they say, it pays to spam Twitter. However, the experts we consulted said that’s not necessarily true.

Details on the Experiment

The experiment actually started as a side project – an “art project” – by Conceptables owner Floris Snuif. Meant to be a statement on the banality of tweeting, he created a simple Twitter script called “breather” (actually @adamhaler in Dutch) that tweeted only “I’m breathing in” and “I’m breathing out.” It also linked to the homepage of the server which hosted the “breather” script. Immediately, of course, the bot was followed by Twitter spammers.

But what happened next was really odd, explains Snuif via blog post (translated to English here). The breather homepage (the one hosting the bot) was ranking higher and higher in the search results the longer the bot kept up its tweeting.

Further Tests

Later, as the development team began work on the Mopion app, they wondered if the same trick would work again. Instead of re-using the same bot, though, the developers created a number of new Twitter accounts with relevant keywords for the service. Via scripts, the bots began tweeting generic buzzwords with links to the Mopion site.

They used scripts to remove the bots’ followers just in case anyone accidentally followed their accounts thinking they were legit.

Some specialized Twitter search engines were duped by the fake tweeting (the developers said they received angry missives from employees of these sites.) But more importantly, Google was duped, too, the developers soon discovered.

Fairly generic queries for things like “social media” were now returning the Mopinion site ever higher in the results.

Says Snuif: “It pays to tweet the same message as much as possible.”

Easy Twitter SEO or Isolated Incident?

Given that all these experiments took place on Google’s subdomain for the Netherlands, we haven’t been able reproduce these experiments on the grander scale of the main Google.com domain ourselves. But in reaching out to several Twitter/Google SEO experts in an informal Q&A via Twitter this morning, we heard from multiple sources that some have seen correlations like these before, just never on this scale. We were reminded, though, that correlation does not prove causation. Some of those contacted felt this may be an isolated incident.

The only odd thing in this case is that the service (Mopinion) was new, so only the developers were doing the heavy tweeting via the bots – not a multitude of independent Twitter users. And lots of tweets translated to good SEO, it seemed.

But the influence the tweets may have had over Google search results is marginal at best, said others experts. Even though the pages were ranked high initially, they will likely drop back down over time.

However, Dallas-based SEO expert Steve Plunkett says that he and others have doneexperiments which did prove that tweeting the same link over and over can boost a page’s rank. Still, he says, Google is good at detecting and filtering spam like this. Too many tweets over a certain period of time will be noticed by Google’s algorithm. Tweets are just one of many “signals” Google uses to determine rank and cannot be as easily gamed as this Dutch development firm’s blog post says.

But then again, noted more than a few folks, the Google.nl domain is a different database and may operate differently than Google.com, especially when it comes to social signals.

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