For the past several years – pretty much since Twitter achieved “mainstream adoption” – editors at blogs and publications have been linking Twitter profiles whenever a source is quoted or references.
But why aren’t these outlet linking to someplace more useful – where a reader can reach them directly?
I’m not saying that Twitter isn’t useful.
But if you’re sourcing a specific person, have you actually thought about why using their Twitter handle could be good or bad?
That’s why I’m writing this “opinion” piece.
Although it doesn’t impact me either way, since SEJ links are nofollowed, I wanted to write this response to get you to think if you should follow this format as it seems to be a trend that has not died.
Here are five reasons you should consider sourcing a person’s website rather than their Twitter handle.
1. Twitter is a Dead Zone for Many
My Twitter account, for example, is mostly abandoned.
I rarely tweet. When I do, I’m either tweeting posts from my blog, responding to a friend, or complaining about something when I couldn’t get support through live chat or the phone.
I’m not sharing marketing advice or engaging in professional conversation. If I were, I would be using a professional handle.
2. You’ve Provided a Potentially Bad User Experience
Imagine a reader who is looking for more information from the person you referenced.
Suppose your readers love what I had to say (and that is why you shared it). They click through on my name, but instead of finding me you’ve sent them to a place where:
- I probably won’t respond.
- They can’t reach out to me privately unless I follow them.
- Upon finding my profile they’ll have to hope I have a working link to a working website with a working contact form.
- Their account could get reported for spam when really they were looking for help.
3. You Could Be Burning Bridges
If an influencer or industry expert or authority is giving you time and providing you with insight that they could have used on their own site, there should be some gain from it for them.
The reason I participate or give free advice isn’t just to be nice. It’s to build authority and business. It isn’t for backlinks, it’s for the exposure in quality pieces (not roundups).
I share practical advice and actual scenarios from my personal experience to generate leads for my business.
When you take time away from someone where they could be focused on clients, their full-time jobs or their family, make sure you’re doing something for them in return like driving leads. Linking to Twitter instead of a direct contact form in my opinion is the opposite of this.
4. It’s OK to ‘Nofollow’ Links
If you’re sourcing them, you probably should give them a followed link. But to be fair, a nofollow link to their company website or blog is still a way to say thank you for sharing your knowledge with us and our readers.
But should you nofollow the link? My opinion is no.
If you went to an industry expert for advice (regardless of industry) and because you consider them to be a thought leader, they’re something worthy of sourcing and giving credibility. If they weren’t, why are you reaching out to them and interviewing them in the first place?
That is the exact reason why some search engines use links as a ranking signal. It is to show what is a trusted source vs. what is not.
5. It’s Common Sense
If the person you’re referencing doesn’t update on Twitter or it is their personal handle, which isn’t topically relevant, why link to it?
If they have a blog or resource they keep updated, and they have an easy way to reach them for more information, why not send people there?
It benefits your article, the reader, and the person you are sourcing.
I have zero issues with Twitter. It just isn’t somewhere I engage with people for work or update frequently.
If someone wants to reach me, my website and blog are the easiest ways.
Think about this with your own site or if you write somewhere else (like here at Search Engine Journal).
If you’re asking someone for their time, knowledge, or expertise and you’re sharing it for your own gain, it isn’t only good to give the reader a way to reach them so they can find more information, it’s a best practice to show them a bit of thanks for taking time out of their day to help you too.
This is done by linking to their site and a way to contact them so they can get leads as well, even if you nofollow the links.
SEJ Executive Editor Danny Goodwin Fires Back
Adam makes an interesting and passionate case here. However, I couldn’t let this post publish without a brief response and to add a few thoughts of my own:
- I’m honestly a bit shocked whenever I find someone in SEO or digital marketing who doesn’t have some sort of presence on Twitter (whether nonexistent or abandoned). It isn’t like Twitter is a fad. Granted, I’ve lost a lot of love for Twitter over the past couple of years. Still, at the very least, it’s quite easy to make sure you’re using your profile to point people to your website, LinkedIn, or wherever you want to direct people who might be interested in contacting you, whether personally or professionally. To me, it makes sense to maintain a minimal presence on any platform where your audience could potentially want to find you.
- Our job isn’t to generate leads for sources. While ideally we can indirectly help with that, ultimately it’s about highlighting people’s great ideas on one of the search industry’s most popular publications. What you have to say is what will attract leads – not just the fact that you’ve been quoted. (We also always include a source’s job title and company, which should also make it easy for readers to find sources.)
And, in the spirit of fairness, I linked to my own Twitter handle rather than a website. 🙂