Larry BraunerHave you ever been slapped by Google or by one of the major business networking sites?

I have — more than once.

I recently received a Twitter slap, and I’m not embarrassed to admit it. If you’ve never received a slap yourself, perhaps your approach is overly cautious.

Clarification

Slapped by GoogleOf course, one wouldn’t actively choose to be penalized by a major business site. Yet, with so many gray and fuzzy areas, this particular hazard is very difficult to skirt.

Fortunately, a slap isn’t as bad as a total ban. A ban can have major long-term consequences. However, even a slap by Google or by an ISP could cause considerable loss. Most slaps result from black hat SEO techniques or some other form of spam.

Twitter Slap

Twitter SlapOutright spam on Twitter risks account cancellation.  More subtle types of spam typically incur the exclusion of tweets from search results, thereby making one invisible to all except his or her followers.

Here are four situations that invite Twitter slap:

  1. Duplicate content - Repeatedly tweeting the same tweets or links
  2. Duplicate accounts - Creating multiple Twitter accounts with the same bio text or linking to the same site
  3. Aggressive use of #hashtags - Using #hashtags haphazardly or maliciously
  4. Following vs. follower ratio - For example, an account following 2,000 with only 10 followers.

In the past, I had several Twitter accounts linking to this blog and tended to append #hashtags to my tweets much too generously. I may also have tweeted some duplicate content. Now tweets from my main Twitter account are excluded from search results.

Sending lots of @ messages to non-followers is outright spam and ought to be reported using the “report for spam” link. I would never consider doing such a thing.

Coping with Twitter Slap

While not disastrous, Twitter slap is troublesome. My #hashtags do no good, unless a follower (in good standing with Twitter) retweets my posts with all my #hashtags intact.

The best way to work around this kind of Twitter slap is to create another account with different bio text and a different bio link. Then, that account can be used to retweet all the important tweets and those with #hashtags from a slapped account.

Have your own stories or comments? Please share them below. :-)

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18 Responses to “Life After Twitter Slap”

  1. Brent Pohlman on March 1st, 2010 1:04 am

    Larry

    The same thing happened to me. I have a #hashtag issue. For whatever reason, my Tweets are not indexed. I am switching to another account. I had built up quite a following, but I think I added one too many applications in my learning. Glad to see that others are having the same issues. I am not a spammer at all.

    I have used various tools to gather more followers but have since cut back. I have decided to connect at a better level. It’s really about connections, regardless whether it’s Twitter or some other tool.

    Thanks for your post!

    Brent

  2. Cheryl H on March 1st, 2010 9:53 am

    Ouch! Sorry to hear this Larry. I do have a couple of questions. How do you know if you’ve been “slapped” and how long is this sort of thing in place? As far as I know None of my work related accounts have landed in Twitter’s version of the Google Sandbox so considered yourself (and your hastags) RT’d.

  3. Stephen G Barr on March 1st, 2010 12:38 pm

    I’ve been spanked a few times by Facebook but never by Twitter.

  4. Larry Brauner on March 1st, 2010 12:50 pm

    @Brent If you account has many followers, you need not abandon it to start a new one.

    @Cheryl You know you’ve received a Twitter slap, when you do a search that should include your own tweet, and it’s not there.

    @Stephen I would find a Facebook slap harder to deal with and a Google slap very painful.

    It’s important to weigh the upside gain and the downside risk from adopting an aggressive approach.

    When it comes to SEO, I take a very high road.

  5. Jake Jacob on March 1st, 2010 2:54 pm

    Slaps by can be overcome, but when you advertise a bot service on this very page, and with twitter becoming more and organized, it’s an open invitation for folks to get slaps. I think that social networking should be exactly the same as offline networking. It’s all about finding out where your audience hangs out, linking all sources together, being a masterful organizer and creating real relationships.

  6. Larry Brauner on March 1st, 2010 4:49 pm

    I do use automation, but I do not auto-tweet as many others do. Furthermore, my #2 account is in good standing with Twitter, and I use management tools with that account too.

    I agree completely with your observations about online networking including the viewpoint that it parallels offline networking.

  7. Shelly on March 2nd, 2010 9:32 pm

    I actually found this very helpful. I’ve been to a couple twitter “parties” recently and felt invisible. I guess I really was to a majority of the group since they weren’t all followers. Can a slap be lifted or do you have to create a new account?

  8. SEO Intro on March 3rd, 2010 12:30 pm

    Thanks, this is interesting and instructive. Does Twitter officially tolerate multiple accounts by the same user? I am puzzled by some of the logic in this post. Obviously identical bios would be a giveaway that the same guy or gal has created two accounts, but why would that be a problem? If the intention is to spam, why stupidly use the same bio? And if several people are associated with the same site, isn’t it legit for them to use the same URL in their profiles? But most especially, where is the evidence that accounts with identical bios or URLs are not kosher from Twitter’s point of view? I have no doubt that Twitter logs our IPs, so anything duplicated in the accounts themselves is of only secondary value as clues.

    But is it legit to use multiple accounts for reasonable purposes? For example, one for personal use and another for my company and a third for yet another company? There seem to be many legit Twitter aps out there that manage multiple accounts.

    I see nothing at all against multiple accounts in Twitter’s rules. What the rules do provide for are penalties for spam, and one of the examples of spam given is “If you post duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account.” But that’s a whole different matter, right? And as regards hashtags: “If you post multiple unrelated updates to a topic using #” (I would say “unrelated” is the operating word here.)

  9. Larry Brauner on March 3rd, 2010 1:16 pm

    @Shelly I aim to find out, but I do have another account.

    @Philip I have no evidence about duplicate bios with duplicate links, but coming from the same IP, they might raise a red flag.

    I agree that multiple accounts for multiple purposes totally legitimate.

    As far as hashtags, using too much poetic license would be problematic, as tweets would thereby show up in unrelated topics.

  10. Accounting Troubleshooter on March 5th, 2010 4:15 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience. This will help us from repeating the same mistakes. I think it is brave of you to share.

  11. Commercial Energy Performance Certificates on March 6th, 2010 4:46 am

    Nice article, thanks.

  12. Larry Brauner on March 7th, 2010 6:22 pm

    It’s not such a big deal. I’ve verified that my @larrybrauner Twitter account is still indexed by Google.

    BTW, if you’d like to follow Twitter’s guidelines to the letter, here they are: The Twitter Rules

  13. Mitch on March 8th, 2010 12:37 am

    It’s kind of like you tried to game the system and got caught, Larry. Admittedly, you pushed the system; I’m not sure I’d want to do that. Overly cautious isn’t a bad thing, especially if someone happens to go overboard without knowing it.

  14. Larry Brauner on March 8th, 2010 1:42 am

    Well Mitch, I can understand your reluctance. But my strategies have paid off. I have many people following me, and I get about 16,000 unique visitors per month to my blog.

    As I said, “If you’ve never received a slap yourself, perhaps your approach is overly cautious.”

    If you’re getting the results you want. Fine. Otherwise you may need to re-examine your position.

  15. Vivek Bhat on March 8th, 2010 2:51 am

    I have just begin in the world of Twitter, Google, etc. etc., so reading about this “slap” thing came as a surprise… I will want not to get “slapped” at such an initial stage… :)

  16. Aric on April 12th, 2010 12:35 am

    I do have multiple accounts myself, but I organize tweets for two different bands and then my personal account.

    Most of the time, unless I need to get a big personal message across, there is no crosslinking. Thus, using the technique very sparsely. So much so, that it should never get flagged.

    That used to be an issue with the newsgroups and I think it’s bad business today as well.

    I can see where hashtagging could be a troublesome thing. It is a superior way to keep up with events and such. It would be like loosing input from a really prominent RSS feed.

  17. Peg Rhodes on April 25th, 2011 11:39 am

    Twitter can be a great tool for business but unfortunately like any other tool out there they can be abused by spammers which is really a shame that just create so much extra noise on the Internet that we have to surf through to find actual relevant information.

  18. David M. on May 22nd, 2011 12:56 am

    They should come up with live anti-spam tools. This spams only destroys the beauty of Twitter.

    David M.

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