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Do Cloaked URLs on Twitter Hurt Your Brand?

I recently started working with a new small business client who, on the surface, seems to be very internet-savvy.   They are blogging, they are active on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  They have an attractive website.  They are SEO smart so they are getting decent traffic to their site.

The problem is: they aren’t getting any sales off the internet.  They have a presence, yes,  but it’s not translating into dollars.

Can I help them?

In my analysis of their to-date efforts, I opened up their Twitter account and looked at all their 1,061 Tweets (4 to 6 a day for about a year now).  What struck me immediately was that I had no idea whose Tweets I was looking at.  Their picture was their logo, which is fine if you know them, not significant if you don’t.  About half of their Tweets were about the weather or current events, maybe a quarter of them were Re-Tweets of other people’s stuff (which is good if there is some sort of tie-in to you, which there typically wasn’t), and maybe a quarter actually mentioned a product or service they offer.  Every Tweet used a cloaked URL.

In 1,061 Tweets, the actual name of their company had not been used once.

The company name is not terribly long (it’s half the length of Success Point Consulting).   Honestly, it’s probably the same length as the cloaked URL.  “Why use the cloaked URL?” I asked.  So they could get reporting from Hootsuite.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am all about tracking and measuring.  So I looked at their Hootsuite statistics.  The most clicks they had ever received on any one message over the past 12 months was 48 clicks, and that was a Tweet about support for relief efforts in Haiti.  Those Tweets didn’t go to their website, they went to a relief organization.  The next Tweet with the highest number of clicks got 14 people to click through to a Youtube video that had nothing to do with their company.  The rest of the top ten were 5 clicks or fewer.   Most of their Tweets are going unnoticed and the ones that are getting noticed are sending people to other sites. They are not engaging with anyone.

They are also following 3 times more people than are following them, but that’s another discussion …

So, as an experiment, I set up a couple of marketing-oriented Tweets and used the actual web address of the company’s home page instead of a cloaked url.  The next day, I was going through my usual morning routine in my consulting email account and I saw a Google Alert come through for their company name.  Surprise!  Google had picked up the Tweet that had their company name in it.  This was the first Tweet that had come through to Google Alerts.  The previous 28 Tweets or so since I had started working with them had been ignored.  Ever have one of the “Ah-ha!” moments?  Does a cloaked URL block Google from recording Tweets as backlinks and if we use the full company URL, will we get better ranking in Google?  Is this actually a SEO tip that I had somehow missed in all my previous research?

So I went surfing the web, trying to find an answer.  One place I went was SEOmoz.org, which does list url cloaking as a negative factor for Google rankings.  But I couldn’t find a whole lot of talk on the subject. 

My gut tells me that companies should be using their brand name on Twitter at least occasionally.   I understand the benefit of cloaked URLs and I use them myself, but I’m going to be more selective on where and when from now on. What about you?  If you pull up all of your company’s Tweets from the past year, are they clearly from your brand?  Would readers be able to learn anything about you and your company?  Do you try to use your company name in your Tweets, or do you rely strictly on cloaked urls?

In my mind, the jury is still out and I still have lots of work to do to start generating sales from Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn  for this company, but I feel I might be going in the right direction.  I’ve changed their mix of Tweets to about 75% marketing-oriented (I’m actually putting offers in the Tweets, how novel!) to only 25% Re-Tweets and comments on the general nature of the world. 

Please leave your thoughts and comments below.  If you need ideas on how to better utilize social media and other online marketing strategies, please give me a call at 614-753-5979 or email me at SuccessPointConsulting@hotmail.com

 

 

Here’s to your success,

Trina

P.S.  My good friend and client, A.W. Abel is having an OPEN HOUSE for his new financial planning service in Powell, Abel Financial Strategies, 3775 Attucks Dr., Powell, OH this Thursday, April 8, from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  Stop by and say HI!

P.S.S.  Another friend, Dr. Gwen Dwiggins, runs an outstanding clinic for autistic children, The Accelerated Learning Clinic, 5158 Blazer Parkway, Dublin.  She is having an OPEN HOUSE on Saturday, April 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  If you know anyone with an autistic child, please pass this information along. 

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2 comments

  1. Mary

    Great post…make total sense.

  2. Earline Pintea

    what a great site and informative posts, I will bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

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