How we used Followerwonk to create an authoritative SEO Twitter list:
Do you ever wish you knew how to use Twitter to get the latest news and views in SEO? Recently, I searched for ‘SEO Twitter’, and was disappointed to find there wasn’t a list of influential digital marketers I could subscribe to. I believe knowing who to follow on Twitter is crucial to developing lasting success online, so I decided to put that right with this blog.
Today I’ll be using one of my favourite research tools – Followerwonk – to create a definitive list of influential digital marketers you need to follow. In the process, I’ll show you exactly why Followerwonk is one of the most powerful Twitter research tools around.
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
I’m in a bit of a hurry – can I just see the list? Below I’ll explain why Twitter integration is so invaluable and talk you through the steps I took to create my SEO Twitter list. However, if you’re short on time and just want to get straight to the action, feel free: simply click here to follow the list.
What is Followerwonk?
This project all started when the InterGreater team found out about this insightful tool. Put simply, Followerwonk helps you get the most out of Twitter. Even its most basic function – a biography search – can shed new light on who to follow, no matter your area of business. This plays to Twitter’s primary strength: concision.
Twitter is based on miniaturising stories and being succinct (all tweets are a maximum of 140 characters). This carries through to its biographies, where only 160 characters are allowed. It would stand to reason that businesses would want to choose their descriptions carefully, with attention to detail, stringent use of waffle and, most importantly, relevant use of keywords. Followerwonk’s biography search tool wades through all the world’s millions of Twitter accounts to find those which mention a particular keyword in their biography.
The Importance of Social Media
The importance of this cannot be overestimated. Not only can following influential and relevant accounts to your industry provide you with crucial, current and up-to-date knowledge, but it will help introduce you to people who you might not otherwise meet. Where else can you start a conversation directly with a business owner, without the necessity of prior introduction or difficulty in avoiding middle-men? In addition, sharing content and informative tweets with your peers will encourage online conversations, in turn boosting your social authority.
A Note on Authority Metrics
Fear not, it might sound a little technical, but authority metrics aren’t as overbearing as they sound. In fact they are there to make sense of why certain websites do better in search engines than others.
Followerwonk’s owners, SEOmoz, initially conceived ‘domain authority‘ to reflect Google’s ranking criteria. This monitors information such as links to and from a website, in order to rank its authority on the web. In a nutshell, the more influential and relevant sites linking to you, the higher your search ranking will be.
In a similar way, ‘social authority‘, a more recent SEOmoz metric, analyses the influence of Twitter accounts. The number of followers you have, as well as how you interact with other users, has a direct impact on your social authority score. This is of particular significance to SEO, as Google are starting to give more weighting to social media use within its ranking algorithms. One of the many reasons for this is elimination of spam. Is it likely that a spammer is going to create enough genuinely insightful content to generate considerable numbers of authoritative followers? Unlikely. As such, it’s more important than ever to devise an SEO Twitter strategy: and an ideal starting point is knowing who to follow.
Relevance to SEO
So, going back to the crux of today’s blog, wouldn’t it be great if we could use all this information to our advantage and find out who to follow in the world of search engine optimisation? As mentioned at the head of the article, searching for ‘SEO Twitter’ didn’t give me the list I wanted. I tried to be more specific:
‘who are the best digital marketers?’
I got results like ‘latest digital marketing trends’, ‘best digital marketing campaign’ and ‘best practices’ – all useful things, but not that all-important list I was after. As a result, I set about using Followerwonk to create a list of the top 40 accounts relevant to SEO.
Now, we all know this is a pretty huge market – and it’s growing. Therefore, I decided to narrow my search. One might choose to go down the line of ‘general marketers’ or ‘content strategists’, but having learned how critical links are to SEO results, I honed in on ‘link-builders’.
By definition, great link-builders need to be aware of the bigger picture to execute successful campaigns. Many of the accounts I find will be associated to link-building, but not necessarily exclusively about link-building thus still achieving my goal of creating a very relevant twitter list for overall SEO and digital marketing expertise.
Using Followerwonk to Create a Twitter List
One viable way to find influential ‘link-builders’ would be to enter that term into the biography search tool. Followerwonk allows you to export a CSV of this data, so we could easily run this search and whittle down a list. However, as we mentioned above, we don’t want to be too specific to that term. We know that someone who is exceptional at link-building might be fantastic at other SEO pursuits. Consequently, their account could list ‘SEO’ in their biography, rather than ‘link-building’, and we don’t want to miss a bunch of influential accounts.
Step 1 – compare users.
Therefore, we would like to introduce you to another great element of the Followerwonk module: the ‘compare users‘ function. Using this tool, you can see what certain Twitter accounts might share. As an example, we entered the Twitter account names of 3 influential link-builders: @hannah_bo_banna (Hannah Smith), @paddymoogan (Paddy Moogan) & @PointBlankSEO (Jon Cooper), which returned the following results:
As you can see from the sphere, there is a central area of 57 accounts which all 3 of these accounts follow. We were hoping that these accounts would all be SEO/link related, but were aware that there might be a few red herrings. In fact, having exported this data to a CSV, we found that all the accounts were relevant to the field of search marketing – instantly proving the relevant usefulness of the tool.
Step 2 – create a shortlist.
We repeated these comparisons with 3 more link-builders we love. Want to apply this to another keyword or market sector? No problem, the beauty of this technique is that it can be adapted to any area of business – just try it for yourself. And if you aren’t sure of who might be influential, the Twitter biography search is the perfect place to start.
We also compared 6 business accounts which specialise in digital marketing and link-building. Here is a list of who we started with:
- @distilled (Distilled)
- @icrossing_uk (iCrossing)
- @seerinteractive (SEERinteractive
- @seomoz (SEOmoz)
- @steaklondon (STEAK)
- @PointBlankSEO (Jon Cooper)
- @hannah_bo_banna (Hannah Smith)
- @garrettfrench (Garrett French)
- @kelvinnewman (Kelvin Newman)
- @mattbeswick (Matt Beswick)
- @paddymoogan (Paddy Moogan)
Step 3 – whittle it down.
Altogether we found 302 accounts, which we separated into 164 which businesses follow and 138 which individuals follow. Our next job was to streamline the list. We did this by:
- removing all repeat data: NB those accounts followed by both businesses and individuals have to be pretty special, so we put these into a separate ‘collated’ spreadsheet
- taking out dormant accounts: all those which hadn’t tweeted for a month.
- taking out irregular tweeters: using the date and tweet count column to create our own ‘tweet rate’ metric.
- covering spam potential: we deleted all accounts of a social authority lower than 30.
- taking out irrelevant accounts: with biographies like ‘failed astronaut’ they needed checking!
- deleting more following than followers: it wouldn’t seem quite right if Justin Beiber knew as many people as knew of him, would it? The same holds true for Twitter: a necessary quality control measure.
That left us with our definitive SEO Twitter list (download it here for free) of 179 current and regularly updated, non-spammy accounts relevant to our field of link-building and website optimisation. However, we want to make our list into a streamlined top 40. Here’s how we did it, steps which could be easily emulated with any other list topic:
Step 4 – find the most relevant accounts.
The first essential step was to pull across all those accounts with ‘link-building’ or ‘inbound marketing’ and its permutations in the biography. A quick search in Excel found us 17 of these, a great start.
NB rather than listing each account individually as I go, you’ll find I’ve collated them all in a neat little table droplink at the foot of this article.
I then added in the individuals we compared in step 2, topping the list up to 21 relevant accounts – 20 individuals and 1 business – almost halfway there.
Step 5 – manual quality additions.
To make this a broadly useful list beyond pure link-building, I added 4 more businesses and 10 more individuals, ranked by social authority
Finally, using the benefit of the industry knowledge within our team to aid the twitter research, I topped up the list with a final 5 essential accounts
Our top 40: creating an SEO Twitter list:
Mission completed! All I needed to do next is put the list onto Twitter, so I could use it, but also share it with you. Actually, I’ve found Twitter lists to be somewhat of a hidden gem – here’s why:
- Lists allow you to group Twitter accounts into topics, and view their feeds separately from your main Twitter feed. You can use a tool like HootSuite to easily view tweets from different lists in columns.
- You can make your lists public. People can then subscribe to these – a fantastic little bit of exposure, particularly if lots of accounts start spreading the word.
- Accounts on your list will see you have added them. This can serve as a gentle introduction to those accounts, perhaps resulting in starting up a conversation with those users.
- If you are worried about following too many accounts, and want to avoid following more than follow you, you can add accounts to a list, without needing to follow them.
The list we have created (found at: https://twitter.com/intergreater/seo-community, click here to follow it) should only be seen as a starting point for who you need to follow. I have deliberately used the metrics Followerwonk has come up with to define the list and used filters to narrow that list down. There may well be some big names in the Excel sheet that I’ve missed out – alas, this is the age-old problem of compiling a list.
But omissions aside, have we achieved our objective? We think this is a very strong list, but judge for yourself by browsing the biographies below.
Of course the crucial part of all this, is that a similar process can be applied to any industry. And once you’ve created a list, there’s no reason why you can’t add feeds to it or delete accounts that you find aren’t hitting the spot.
So go forth and multiply your social media efforts with Followerwonk. Who knows where it might lead you?