I’ve come to the conclusion that for us, and perhaps for many other web sites, providing a Twitter feed on the site’s front page as a representation of the content tweeted about is a misuse of prime web space.
Mostly I’ve come to this conclusion based on my review of our various web site data points and a reconsideration of the philosophical point of providing the Twitter feed. And in both cases it seems to be lacking.
First of all, the Twitter feed placement does not seem to be feeding significantly to our Twitter feed subscribers. We base this assessment on the considerable lack of click-thrus from our site to the Twitter feed. It’s quite unlikely that someone subscribes to our Twitter feed from just seeing the feed without actually clicking it to subscribe.
No, it appears that subscribers to our feed are almost all actively within Twitter when they discover our feed. They find us from retweets or tweet search engine searches or a variety of other ways WITHIN THE TWITTER UNIVERSE.
And so that space, just based on the clickthru linkage we see from the other links on the front page, is misused. Now it was low on the front page, and propping it towards the top of the front page might increase linkage – but at a cost of reducing the visibility of items we have determined have higher priority.
Which got me to thinking of the philosophy of posting the Twitter feed on the front page… why do it?
A lot of sites seem to use it as an indicator of organizational activity that shows newsworthiness in an easy plug-in fashion. If you don’t have your own web site content that is changing quickly, then it can show change on your web site with your regular tweets, and if that’s your goal, it can provide the look of currency.
But really – how many people use a web site that is static OTHER than a Twitter feed to keep apprised of news that is posted on Twitter? And if those people are knowledgeable about Twitter, and the tools they can use to view feeds – why would they? I don’t think it adds a convenience, it actually just creates the appearance of activity… and once I started to think about it a bit more, the Twitter feed on our front page not only seemed like a misuse of space, it was worse: it was noise that distracted from real content we provide on our front page through our blog.
And we don’t see much SEO advantage to our Twitter feed either.
So, yesterday we pulled it.