Twitter removes nofollow attribute from links in tweets

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Twitter has removed the nofollow link attribute from Twitter posts, tweets, in its source code. It is unclear if Twitter removed this attribute on purpose or not and if even search engines, like Google, would value links from Twitter or not.

Timing. According to Chris Silver Smith, Twitter removed the nofollow link attribute sometime in the past couple weeks or so. He said on Twitter “Twitter is apparently no longer using rel=”nofollow”. This includes links you find on “profiles, tweets, and other pages on Twitter may now contain followed links,” he said.

Back in 2008, former search quality lead and spam fighter, Matt Cutts, posted that Twitter added the nofollow link attribute to bio sections on Twitter. Within a year later, Twitter added the attribute to all tweets and other sections of their site.

Will these links count? It is hard to know if Google or Bing or other search engines will start to now follow and count links found on and within tweets. We know Google can sometimes treat links that do not have a nofollow attribute, as if it does have a nofollow attribute. I would assume Google would by default do that with most social networks, including Twitter, because user generated content and links, are hard to trust in general.

Will it last. Also, I suspect Twitter will soon add the nofollow link attribute back to external links as soon as they hear about this publicly. So this may be short-lived. We have reached out to Twitter for a statement.

Why we care. Twitter is one of the largest social networks and is used heavily by SEOs and marketers. If links remain unfollowed, it potentially might lead to more link spam on that network and both hurt the usefulness of Twitter and potentially the value of links in general on Twitter.

But again, I really don’t think Twitter intentionally removed the nofollow but we will see.

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About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry can be followed on Twitter here.

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