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Using Twitter To Power Spam

Good afternoon and a happy square root day to you. (C’mon it’s no more made up than Valentine’s Day).

Despite my initial reservations, I’m actually finding Twitter moderately useful for content and link discovery, the trick is just really following the right people and ditching time wasters. I’m not going to bore you with a lecture on how Twitter is the next big thing, in fact I’m pretty sure we’re fast approaching the point at which Gartner’s Hype Cycles soon predict a crash of interest and disillusionment.

Twitter in the Gartner's Hype Cycle

Well, maybe, maybe not – argue it amongst yourselves, it’s not what I really want to talk about. I want to talk about…

Twitter and Spam
Although I’ve only really talked about parasite hosting indirectly, when looking at ranking factors to do with age and trust, I think it’s a point briefly worth mentioning.

I saw Quadzilla posted today about parasite hosting on twitter. Hopefully, that hasn’t eluded you, aside from other methods of finding places to parasite host all you need to look for are trusted domains that allow you to post content with little moderation. Even a basic search for Viagra shows that the #2 position is essentially a parasite hosted page on the hotfroguk directory (thanks Ryan for your dedication in trawling Viagra results).

As Quadzilla rightly points out, with Twitter being almost totally unmoderated, the sad fact is it’s going to get bombed to hell over the next 12 months by blackhat SEOs and then Google will do something about it and game over.

There are however (slightly) more legitimate uses for Twitter if you’ve got your heart set on some easy rankings.

Twitter and content generation
Content generation can be a tricky game, you can plain scrape it (not really generation :P), scrape it and spin it, you can use synonym replacement, markov chaining, or if you’re really smart – come up with your own way to do it.

There are several problems inherited with content generation, whether it’s duplicate content, poor quality or your algorithm gets skewed by internet random. I’ve seen a lot of people trying to generate websites based on data they can pull from keyword trends or “hot” trends. The problem is that most of the services give you the information you need, after the fact. The news has come, the search spike has been and you’re content generation system has given you a crummy bit of content which now has to compete with established sites with real content. Oh, and the fact nobody cares anymore.

Twitter, on the other hand is instant. It’s not uncommon for me to discover new “hot” things on twitter hours before mainstream news (i.e. authoritative sites) publish it (and days before Seth Godin makes an informed in hindsight) comment.

Without spoon feeding, I put this to you: Why not let tweeting twits find your content for you? There’s many ways you can do this:

1) There are lovely people that get this information for you. For instance: http://twitturly.com/ will give you the most tweeted links. There’s all your early breaking generic news for you, just set your cURL bot to follow those tinyurls and discover the source and scrape away.

2) If you’re in a niche, find everyone who tweets in that niche, use cURL to crawl of the links they tweet, log them to a database, use a little intelligent keyword selection to make sure their relevant, then repost.

Then of course, ping the world with your new content, break some captchas and submit to a list of social sites and drop a few links here and there. Aside from services such as Google Blog Search, which work on an almost exclusively chronological basis, you stand a good chance of getting a healthy amount of visitors since you’re one of the first few to get content up.

Added note for clarity: I’m talking about scraping titles/content from URLs you have followed from tweets – not tweets themselves. The majority of the links to new breaking / interesting stories will come inside a very small window. So if you can post this content up while there is still interest / searches and before someone has link dominance, you should even be able to give the duplicate content penalty the slip, even if you’ve 100% scraped – so you’re on a winner – you could even retweet it (:

Oh, don’t forget to jam it full or ads or something. Who cares? It’s all automated. Think of it at least as a weekend project, but don’t break Twitter, it’s growing on me (:



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5 responses to “Using Twitter To Power Spam”

  • David says:

    I’m sure you could pump a lot of hot bilge with this method. Someone gave me a similar idea earlier today. There is a piece of software called Dragon Naturally Speaking that converts voice to text. It has a training facility, but is generally pretty good on its own. You could just let the blighter loose on Terry Wogan; record his blitherings and splurge them out. Something like that could probably even build some nice legit links – The Radio Four 24/7 Transcription Archive.

    Comment by David
    March 4th, 2009 @ 12:58 am

  • Kooshy says:

    Frickin awesome post mate. Twitter as an intelligent scraper source. That’s pure gold. This actually adds some substance to the saying “autoblogs on crack”. Love it!

    Comment by Kooshy
    March 4th, 2009 @ 9:09 am

  • vardis says:

    I’m not a big twitter fan and I can envisage their demise. Firstly, the novelty of following celebrities (or idiots) will soon wear off. More importantly, they’re going to struggle to make big bucks without charging – which IMO would send everyone away. I wish them luck though>

    Comment by vardis
    April 13th, 2009 @ 5:41 pm

  • Matt says:

    Thanks for the idea. I think twitter is a great place to get a continual feed of fresh content. I decided to write a script which I posted on my blog that would be a good starting point for making a scraper:

    http://www.halotis.com/2009/09/17/links-in-twitter-timelin/

    Comment by Matt
    September 17th, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

  • Data Quality says:

    Very interesting article, I like your thoughts about content generation using Twitter. Thanks for this information.

    Comment by Data Quality
    September 19th, 2009 @ 7:54 pm