Twitter Shortlinks No Longer Passing Link Juice

If you’ve ever had any of your links shared on twitter, you have potentially just lost a load of link equity which was coming from embedded feeds.

Many sites use the Twitter API to display their user or brand feeds via a backend script (normally PHP or ASP), and as Twitter’s URL shortening service ( has been passing link juice for years, it was easy to gain some (albiet shortlived) links by doing something to get a major twitter account to tweet about your site, or retweet you. This was possible because the twitter feeds display links; uses a 301 redirect, and (until recently) there were no robots directives which stopped search crawlers from passing on that link juice (note most of the links on itself had the rel=”nofollow” attribute – more about that in a second)


Embedded tweets have always passed PageRank through a 301

These embedded tweet feeds are quite widespread – you can find them everywhere from corporate blogs to governmental sites. Also, as I wrote about last year, the main Twitter site was leaking PageRank through dofollow links for around six months.

No more following

A few days ago, on June the 13th 2013, Twitter changed the file to block all crawlers.

Before – mirrored the main; allowing the short URL’s to pass link juice:


Go Wayback

Now – It’s a sad day as brutally blocks out the world, like an angsty teenager who insists that no one could ever understand


Current robots.txt  |  Wayback (in case it changes)

How could they do this to me?

There’s no official word yet – it doesn’t really seem like anyone’s noticed. My theory is that they’re cracking down on blackhatters who were taking advantage of the above leak; but of course I would think that – I live and breathe SEO. They could have been trying to chill out the massive server demand that search robots make on them; or even trying to stop browser plugins which swap out twitter links with the real equivalents.

or maybe they realised that copying and pasting the robots.txt file from to was a fucking retarded thing to do. Who am I to say? My guess is as good as yours.

What can I do?

If you REALLY want to pass link juice from any random link you post on twitter, you could write a script which looks up the real URL before sending it to the browser. It’s probably not worth it though – the big gains in this bug were always getting links on sites you didn’t control by doing something to get the account owners to retweet you.

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