Although backlinks as a ranking factor are not going anywhere, the way in which search engines are identifying popularity, trust and authority has changed to include the social signals. If we consider the kind of social signals search engines might take notice of on Twitter, metrics such as retweet volume, reach and follower vs following ratio pop in my mind.

seo tips for twitter - custom picture

(http://www.flickr.com/photos/chasblackman/6795013658/)

But in order to get retweeted and followed, other users will have to find you and the only way this will happen is by improving your profile’s visibility within search engine results as well as inside Twitter itself. That’s where optimising your profile comes into play and here’s what you need to do:

1. Optimise your Twitter bio

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Your bio will work as a Meta-Description in the eyes of search engines, so it must be informative, incorporate some keywords and be concise yet interesting. Use your words effectively because you only get 160 characters! Link your Twitter profile to your site by including its URL, and avoid using shortners on that section. Also, consider using the different buttons for your site making it easier for your visitors to share content and connect with you.

2. Optimise your profile picture + header + background

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When it comes to the images you’re using, give the photo files keyword-based names separated by dashes before uploading them (e.g. “xyz-Brighton-web-designer.jpg”). Remember you can now add a header photo, in addition to personalising your background and colours.

To customise your header photo, follow the steps below:

– Sign in to your account.
– Go to your Settings and click on the Design tab.
– Scroll down to the Customize your own section.

To customise your header photo, follow the steps

– Click on Change Header to upload a new header photo or remove your existing header photo (recommended dimensions of 1200×600, the file must be smaller than 5MB).
– Select the image you would like to upload.
– Click Save.

After adding a header image to my Twitter profile.

After adding a header image to my Twitter profile.

3. Start your relationships on the right foot with Twitter lists

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Isn’t it nice to go through those Twitter lists you’ve been added to? It’s a pleasant surprise, for sure, and it helps you build authority within your industry. I’m always grateful when someone adds me to a new list, and so will be the people you’re following. In addition to this, Twitter lists are a great way of organising your Following into different categories, making it easier to keep track of the users.

There’s also an SEO related benefit: with every list you create, you’re putting out there another interesting URL that will show up in search engine results. Make your lists public and use descriptive keyword phrases in your list name. For example, “B2B marketing profs” or “Email marketing leaders” are better list names than a plain “Marketing”.

4. Enhance your visibility with #hashtags

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In order to ensure more visibility, your tweets should include keyword phrases and hashtags. Hashtags are useful for search because they categorise your tweets by topic. Using tools such as Hashtags.org and The Archivist, you can search for suitable hashtags for your business and choose the ones that are popular. Capitalise on the fact that many Twitter users will be monitoring and following hashtags with the intention of joining the conversation!

5. Submit your Twitter to a Twitter directory

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There are many Twitter directories out there and by submitting your account to any of them, you’re not only opening a door to potential followers but also creating a link back to your Twitter profile from a valuable site under a specific category and area. Below you’ll find six Twitter directories you might want to check:

WeFollow – Directory founded by Digg’s Kevin Rose in early 2009.
Twellow – “The Twitter Yellow Pages”, Twellow is one of the largest Twitter directories and it was launched by producers of WebProNews.
JustTweetIt – Well curated directory with many specific categories.
Local Tweeps – Local Twitter directory for the US, Canada, and the UK.
TweetFind – User generated Twitter directory.
Twibs – The place to find businesses on Twitter.

6. Build quality links to your profile

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Aside from adding a link to your Twitter from your blog/site and your other social profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc), there are a number of websites that will gladly link to your profile:

Klout

Many people hate the whole idea behind it, but you cannot deny that having a backlink from Klout will have a positive impact on the rankings of your Twitter profile.

Klout will have a positive impact on the rankings of your Twitter profile
Don’t forget that Klout pulls the information in your Bio field, so if you have a link to your own site within your Bio, you’ll get a nice backlink too!

TwitterCounter

Twitter Counter tracks stats based on your Twitter usage, providing you with data and predictions about your follower base.

Twitter Counter tracks stats based on your Twitter usage

Most people will find they already have a profile when visiting http://twittercounter.com/username, but if you don’t find your account, you can easily sign in with Twitter.

Twitter Grader

This tool by HubSpot scores your account based on your Twitter activity. The scoring process will begin as soon as you enter your Twitter account in the search box.

This tool by HubSpot scores your account based on your Twitter activity
Once your page has been created, you can access it by going to http://tweet.grader.com/yourusername.

Favstar

Favstar provides you with statistics on your most popular tweets based on the number of times they have been favourited or retweeted.

Favstar provides you with statistics on your most popular tweets

Aside from adding a link to your Twitter profile, once you’ve signed in via Twitter, Favstar will allow you to add two more URLs.

Retweet Rank

Retweet Rank scores you on their ranking system based on the number of retweets you receive. It pulls your Bio and Web link, and you’ll probably find yourself by going to http://www.retweetrank.com/yourusername.

Retweet Rank scores you on their ranking system based on the number of retweets you receive.

Make sure you claim your profile!

Twtbizcard

TwtBizCard allows Twitter users to create an online business card. It uses your Bio and Web link, and once you’ve signed in, you’ll be able to connect other social profiles.

TwtBizCard allows Twitter users to create an online business card.

Can you think of any other Twitter tips that would help with the visibility of the profile?

That little bit about Gisele:

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Gisele Navarro MendezTitle: Social Community Manager
Specialist Area: SEO training, social media etiquette, building relationships.
Gisele provides freelance social SEO consultancy, as well as SEO & social media coaching for bloggers and small business owners. She tweets regularly via @GiseleNMendez and has her own blog: In social we trust.  You can also connect with her on Google+ Gisele N Mendez