Google & Twitter’s Partnership May Make Social a Stronger Search Signal

Written by Alex Embling

May 6 2015

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Google Plans To Index Tweets

Is social activity important to you? If not it should be: Google has realigned with Twitter to gain real-time access to Tweets. This means social signals are more likely to hold ranking significance than ever before.

It wouldn’t be the first time that Tweets have appeared in search. Google realtime search displayed tweets in real-time until 2011 when Google’s agreement to carry Twitter’s results expired. Google does still show some Tweets in search today, but only a very small proportion of what’s happening on Twitter - about 7.4%.

As of February 2015, nearly four years later, Twitter and Google have reinstated their agreement. This gave Google access to Twitter’s data - ‘Firehose’ - and came with a promise that the deal would begin to inform search at some point in the first half of 2015. 

What Does Tweet Indexing Mean For Search?
Speculation on how this deal will influence search has been rife in the past few months, but it’s generally accepted that it will result in a significant increase in Tweet indexing.

We’re still lacking the official line on what this means for search, but with the first half of 2015 almost over, what should we expect?

The Social Signals Likely To Impact Google Search - Twitter Signals To Take Note Of

When indexing Tweets, Google will need to look at numerous signals to decide which Tweets hold high value. But now that it can access Twitter’s data feed, Google will be also be able to see numerous Tweet metrics (such as tweet volume and interaction).

It’s probable that these are the signals that will inform how Tweets display in search, and possibly influence the regular search algorithm later on.

Below are the the signals that are likely to be available to Google, and inform the value of Tweets:

  • Links from third party web sites to the tweets.
  • Links from third party web sites to a user's profile.
  • How many times a tweet is retweeted, and by whom.
  • How many times a tweet is favourited, and by whom.

Time is also likely to have an influence; if Tweets are being indexed in real-time, there may well be value in recent activity.

Search Engine Land have also created a detailed post on the Twitter signals Google is likely to care about.

What This Means For You

Though no official line has been released yet on exactly how (or when) Twitter and Search will intertwine, what is clear is: 

  • Social signals are increasingly influential on search.
  • You may have the chance to use Twitter to increase your SERPs presence.

As mentioned earlier very few tweets are currently indexed by Google, so for this deal to make sense, we’re expecting a significant change in the number of Tweets that are indexed and their value (though it’s impossible to predict).

In the meantime, maximising your levels of valuable engagement and social activity is crucial; from a search perspective, and to support an effective Inbound marketing campaign.

We’ve spoken previously on the social activity you can do to boost leads, engagement, brand awareness and support your marketing efforts as a whole. When it comes to B2B Twitter activity:

  • Make the most of niche-relevant hashtags in your Tweets.
  • Create relevant interesting content that resonates with your personas and addresses their concerns.
  • Increase your level of social activity, and encourage other members of your organisation to share and advocate your content.
  • Use images to increase engagement. According to HubSpot, Tweets with imagery are between 5 and 9 times more likely to be retweeted.
  • Dedicate time to meaningful social engagement and conversation with your audience - and build relationships with niche influencers likely to retweet your content.