A recent change by Twitter has caused a stir in the SEO community. Specifically, Twitter have removed the “nofollow” attribute from links in posts, tweets and profiles. This means that links from the platform are now classed as “dofollow” and will pass SEO value – though to what degree is up for debate.
What are Nofollow Links?
Nofollow links have a special HTML attribute which classifies them. This nofollow tag tells search engines and other bots to ignore the link when crawling a page. These are often used if links aren’t a trusted source or for user generated content. As such, nofollow links do not pass any SEO value (PageRank) and are thought not to have an effect on rankings. A dofollow link is the opposite but a tag isn’t required for these, it’s the default link state. For example:
<a href="https://dogfood.com" rel=”nofollow”>nofollow link example</a>
<a href="https://dogfood.com">dofollow link example</a>
Twitter and Nofollow Links
Twitter originally allowed dofollow links across their platform but implemented nofollow links throughout 2008 & 2009. It’s likely that, in an attempt to combat SEO spam, the platform took action to prevent users from creating accounts and posting backlinks. Even with the removal of the nofollow attribute, it’s difficult to know if Google will treat these links the same as other sites or even follow them at all. It’s something that SEO agencies and other professionals will have to test over the coming weeks if Twitter sticks with the change.
Twitter is one of the largest social media platforms, containing masses of user-generated content that’s growing by over 500 million tweets per day! It’s easy to see how a shift in Google’s perception of this content could cause a knock-on effect in rankings. Many argue that the removal of the attribute was a mistake by Twitter and will be rectified soon. However, there’s been no official announcement from Twitter, so we’ll have to wait and see if this is a permanent change.