Google's head of webspam took on an interesting question from a user in a new Webmaster Help video:
Some websites use their Twitter account as an RSS like service for every article they post. Is that ok or would it be considered a doorway?
I know he shoots these videos in advance, but the timing of the video's release is interesting, considering that it's asking about doorways. Google's Penguin Update was unleashed on the web last week, seeking out violators of Google's quality guidelines, and dealing with them algorithmically. One of Google's guidelines is:
Avoid "doorway" pages created just for search engines, or other "cookie cutter" approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
There is no shortage of questions from webmasters wondering what exactly Google is going after with the update, which will likely come with future iterations, not unlike the Panda update. For more on some things to avoid, browse our Penguin coverage.
Using your Twitter feed like an RSS feed, however, should not put you in harm's way.
"Well, I wouldn't consider it a doorway because a doorway is typically when you make a whole bunch of different pages, each page is targeting one specific phrase," he says. "And then when you land there, usually it's like, click here to enter And then it takes you somewhere, and monetizes you, or something along those lines. So I wouldn't consider it a doorway."
Cutts does suggest that such a practice can be annoying to users, however.
"Could it be annoying?" he continues. "Yes, it could be annoying, especially if you're writing articles like every three minutes or if those articles are auto-generated somehow. But for example, in FeedBurner, I use a particular service where, when I do a post on my blog, it will automatically tweet to my a Twitter stream, and it will say New Blog Post, colon, and whatever the title of the blog post is. And that's perfectly fine."
"That's a good way to alert your users that something's going on," he adds. "So there's nothing wrong with saying, when you do a blog post, automatically do a tweet. It might be really annoying if you have so many blog posts, that you get so many tweets, that people start to ignore you or unfollow you. But it wouldn't be considered a doorway."
OK, so you're safe from having to worry about that being considered a doorway in Google's eyes.
I'm not sure I entirely agree with Cutts' point about it being annoying, however. Yes, I suppose it can be annoying. That really depends on the user, and how they use Twitter. I'm guessing that it is, in fact, annoying to Cutts.
Just as some sites treat their Twitter feed like an RSS feed, however, there are plenty of Twitter users who use it as such. A lot of people don't use RSS, and would simply prefer to get their news via Twitter feed. Some users in this category (I consider myself among them) follow sites on Twitter because they want to follow the content they're putting out. It's really about user preference. Not everybody uses Twitter the same way, so you have to determine how you want to approach it.
Cutts is definitely right in that some may unfollow you, but there could be just as many who will follow you because they want the latest.
Either way, it doesn't appear to be an issue as far as Google rankings are concerned.