Twitter is one of the Big 3 of social networking (alongside Facebook and LinkedIn) and a valuable component of any social media marketing strategy. There are probably hundreds of blog posts out there telling site owners to get a Twitter account because they are “supposed” to. But what are the real benefits of incorporating Twitter into the online marketing mix? Can Twitter actually help your SEO or is it just another place to make noise and hope someone notices?

Here are 3 ways Twitter affects your SEO:

Social Signals
Both Google and Bing have admitted that social media signals are being incorporated into the search algorithm as a ranking factor. While we can only speculate as to how important social signals are, it’s probably save to say very much so. Bing patterned with Facebook to create a more personalized, social SERP and Google launched its own social networking platform. I doubt the two search behemoths would do so if they weren’t assigning some value to social signals.

So how does Twitter play into this? Content shared on Twitter can be indexed by the search engines and actually rank in the search results. The more time a piece of content is Tweeted and reTweeted, the more important it becomes in the eyes of the search engines. Just like your site thrives off of quality links, so do social signals.

Author Authority

Author authority is why it is important to take the time to actually build a Twitter profile and connect with real, human users. The search engines know that when they announce a new ranking signal, the spammers come out of the woodwork and try to manipulate it. If Google says reTweets are important, you can bet that black hat companies are creating hundreds of dummy accounts that exist solely to reTweet their content. Author authority aims to put a stop to that.

The search engines don’t just look at how many times your content is being Tweeted, but who is doing the Tweeting! How long has that person been active on Twitter? Who are their followers? What kind of content do they usually share? They want to make sure that spam profiles don’t artificially inflate the popularity of a piece of content. Having a dozen real profiles Tweet your blog post or article is worth much more than having 100 bots do the same.

Brand Awareness

If you think the only goal of SEO is to rank number one, you’re missing the bigger picture. Of course you want to rank well, but SEO is also designed to increase your overall online presence and brand awareness so your target audience can more easily find you. Twitter is a great way to increase your brand awareness. It allows you to connect with your customers in a new and personalized way. When someone Tweets about your brand/products, they are broadcasting your message to their social network as well, increasing your reach.