Twitter creates user directory, new push to impact local search

It seems that for as long as search engines have been used routinely, Google has been perched upon a pedestal as the unquestioned king of search engines, forcing local SEO specialists to cater to its demands. But with the consistent competition of Bing and Yahoo and newcomers Yelp and Foursquare, it seems everyone is getting into the local search marketing game.

Even social platforms that were little more than an afterthought in SEO have taken steps to boost their search marketing, a further indicator local search is attracting the attention of big-time firms. Twitter has revamped crucial internal functions to make a bigger push, changing how search engines can crawl Twitter search result pages. Large search engines were granted access to Twitter search pages, tweets and hashtags, but not pictures, videos or the users themselves.

However, users are concerned after Twitter covertly launched a user profile directory in hopes to drive more search engine traffic to the site. With the launch of a directory, Twitter is capping off the process to boost its search visibility in the SEO arena.

The directory alphabetically lists all user accounts, including those which start with numbers or non-Latin characters. Even though it was launched weeks ago, Twitter has not formally announced the game-changing move. Some SEO experts have speculated they have refrained from a public announcement because the user directory impacts search engines more than it does users.

"We launched this a few weeks ago to help people find the accounts they're looking for with various search engines," a Twitter spokesperson told CNET.

Local SEO specialists should take note of the change. Engaging in social media like Twitter and Facebook have become a must for small businesses to connect with new customers and forge more personal and conversational relationships with consumers. But a whole new side of social media that deals with local search has been exposed with Twitter's latest move. Now if businesses want to see an impact from local SEO strategy, they will surely benefit from having a professional and searchable Twitter handle.

The move is possibly another attempt to improve Twitter's relations with search engines, particularly Google. The two have waged a back-and-forth spat since Twitter ended an agreement that gave Google exclusive rights to content, effectively ending Google's Realtime search product.