2019 Update: Twitter and Google have worked very hard to build a strong relationship. While there have been some ups and downs, it is now the case that very popular Twitter Tweets show up in Google Search. This tells us that Google is indexing the Tweets, but do they have any SEO value?
When Twitter expanded to 280 characters per tweet in November 2017 they opened the door for expanded content. As we know, the Google Algorithm loves high quality, focused and dense content. Even though it can be annoying to see long Tweets, these bits of information are often more valuable.
We predict that Tweets from very prominent figures on Twitter do have SEO value. If you get a website link Tweeted from the Official Google Webmaster Tools account it stands to reason that link is much better than a Tweet from some random spam account or an account that is simply set up through an auto generator.
How much SEO value a Tweet has is something we will have to continue to research. Remember, each Twitter profile has an individual PageRank. If you have a very powerful Twitter account in which thousands of people engage in relevant conversations, it might be time to start using that account for SEO purposes. If you want to start on Twitter today for SEO purposes, you would be wise to spend your time and money elsewhere.
Original Article from July 2014
Twitter is the most talked about social media website when it comes to the second screen. Any time there is a major awards show or sporting events the blue Twitter bird and hashtag symbol are on the TV screen every 15 seconds. It is remarkable how embedded Twitter now is when it comes to watching TV and looking at a smartphone or tablet. Unfortunately, the lifespan of a tweet is about 30 seconds, if that. With a tweet having 30 seconds of fame one would hope it could help a website in terms of search ranking. That is simply not the case. At this point, most tweets are not indexed by Google and the links do not help with SEO. For more on website traffic from Twitter use this link: How to Generate Website Traffic From Twitter.
Generating traffic and seeing an increase in search rankings are two completely different aspects of Internet marketing. There are many websites that get hundreds of thousands of visitors per month yet they do not rank well for competitive keywords. There are a number of popular social media blogs that fit this bill. If you are a business owner that makes money through services or products there is a good chance you will want to rank in search. There are social media websites much better than Twitter that can help service this need. For more information on ranking better in Google search through SEO please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Why Google Does Not Index Twitter Tweets
Years ago, Google offered somewhere in the ballpark of $4 to $6 billion for Twitter. Twitter politely declined and went on their merry way. Google also struck up a relationship with Twitter to offer Google Real Time search in which searchers would see “real time” results streaming on the front page of Google. Real time search ended at the beginning of July 2011 when both Twitter and Facebook turned off the firehose that allowed Google to access their data.
This severed relationship did not end with just real time search. Twitter has basically closed off their Tweets to the Googlebot. This means that all the tweets that have links pointing to websites are not getting indexed in Google. In turn, no matter how many retweets or favorites you are getting it is not helping with SEO. This is very unfortunate as there are many Twitter users that would love to use their influential Twitter account to help a personal or business website get more exposure in search. The only link that is crawled and indexed by Google is the link in the profile about section of Twitter.
Can Twitter Help Increase Search Rankings?
Directly, no. Indirectly, yes. The link in the Twitter profile is a link that Google can crawl, index and rank. If you have many external links pointing back to your personal or business Twitter account this Twitter profile link with be strengthened. If you have a strong Twitter presence there is a very high likelihood that websites, blogs and other social networks have linked to your Twitter account. Some Twitter accounts have a pagerank as high as 7 or 8. This is huge as it makes the link within the Twitter profile that much more powerful.
Another way you can get some of the SEO value from Twitter is to have a social media account that shares Tweets on another website. A great example of this is Rebel Mouse. You can set up a Rebel Mouse account to reshare your Tweets, Google Plus posts or almost any other type of public social media update. All Rebel Mouse updates are crawled and indexed by Google search. This means if you Tweet with a link to a website the Rebel Mouse update will actually be crawled by Google and the website will be assigned a value. The power of the Twitter profile has nothing to do with the power of the link; the power of the Rebel Mouse profile is what will place the value of the link.
Rebel Mouse is just one of many websites that will allow you to set up an auto update of your Tweets. Although Twitter is not crawled by Google there are a number of other social media websites that are. Finding the proper avenues to both grow a readership while also getting crawled in Google search can help your website increase search visitors.
Should My Business Be On Twitter?
The answer to this question is industry specific. While I would say that most businesses should be on Twitter there are some that should not. If you are a lawyer or a doctor there is no reason to be on Twitter. Client confidentiality is extremely important and there is very little that Twitter can do to help you market your private practice. That said, bars and restaurants should definitely be on Twitter. Here is a great article to explain why: How Restaurants and Bars Can Use Twitter to Get Business. If you are not certain if your business should be on Twitter do not hesitate to reach out to me.
Creativity and humor are extremely important when it comes to growing a presence on Twitter. If your business struggles with this it might be best to stick to building a website with content that will rank in search. I explain the power of WordPress blog posts and content on a website in this article: Do WordPress Blog Posts Help SEO? The short answer is WordPress blog posts or any type of content is the best thing you can do for search engine optimization. Remember that search engines exist only because websites constantly produce more content and information. Without new information search engines would be worthless.
Before spending $1500 a month on a social media campaign that promises to build out your Twitter following recognize that even with 50,000 Twitter followers you are still not going to get a lot of SEO help. The only link that is indexed in Google is the link within the profile. If an SEO or social media company tries to prove to you otherwise ask them to show you proof of Tweets being indexed and ranked in Google search. Ask for Google Webmaster Tools links to specific pages (not a homepage) that show more than a single link from Twitter, which is the profile link.
Please note that some high profile Twitter users will have their tweets indexed and ranked in Google search but these are few and far between. Unless you have access to a celebrity Twitter account with over 5 million followers you are not going to see individual tweets indexed in search. Remember to look at your business model and decide which social media websites are going to help you make more money moving forward into 2015 and beyond. If you plan to get started on Twitter here is a Beginner’s Guide to Using Twitter to Gain Followers.
What the Twitter-Google Contract Means for SEO and Google Search
On February 5th, 2015 Bloomberg Businessweek announced that Twitter and Google struck a deal that would allow Google to crawl and index tweets in “real time search”. This is not the first time the two companies have combined their efforts. From February 24th, 2010 until July 2nd, 2011 Google offered “real time” search results for trending topics. These real time results did not show up for every search query, only queries that were popular or trending.
For well over a year I have predicted that Google would have to adjust their search algorithms to cater to real time events. Sports, award shows and hot topic news cannot get indexed and ranked fast enough. Searches do not want to see a halftime score of a football game that is already over. The only way to provide these up to the second search results is to partner with a company that is getting real time data quickly. Who better than Twitter?
Twitter and Google Partnership
On July 2nd, 2011 the Twitter-Google partnership ended and Google no longer had access to the “firehose” of data that was streaming through Twitter. In November of 2014 Twitter announced their native search feature was improved drastically. When searching on Twitter users now have more options to surf through all tweets, not just popular or trending tweets. This means you can search any tweet dating back to 2006.
Although Twitter has improved their search it is still the case that Internet users think of Google when it comes to searching. Ask any millennial in the United States and they will say Google is the only place they search. Twitter quickly realized their search could be improved even more by having tweets show up in Google search. In the last three months there have been a plethora of posts with titles such as “Why Twitter is Getting Into SEO”.
Well, anyone that has had a website that ranks well in Google search knows the long lasting value of SEO. Instead of getting Facebook or Twitter traffic for a few hours, or even a few minutes, you can get traffic for many years if you happen to rank on the front page of Google search. Trust me, I have lived it for over seven years and search traffic is much more valuable than social media traffic. People are actively looking for something when they search so they get to your website with an intent to buy. This is not the case with social media traffic.
What Does This Mean for SEO?
This is a very good question. Some SEO minds have debated whether or not a link that is tweeted has any value. With all the spam and craziness on Twitter I cannot see Google assigning a value to most individual tweets. That said, I can see them assigning a value to a tweet that has gained traction and proves to be important. If Hillary Clinton announces she is not running for president in 2016 through a tweet how can that not be valuable?
Remember that a Twitter tweet has its own individual URL. As you can see on this Taylor Swift tweet, there is an almost endless amount of responses. That means every single response is part of the content for this individual URL. We know that length of content often matters when it comes to search rankings. If Taylor Swift gets 15,000 140 character responses that is a tremendous amount of content that is on one URL.
Also note that tweets can be embedded on websites. Here is that same Taylor Swift tweet embedded on my website:
Sending my love to all the lonely Starbucks lovers out there this Valentine’s Day…..even though that is not the correct lyric.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) February 14, 2015
This is a direct link back to the individual tweet. Not only does Taylor have some amazing responses with content value she is getting links pointing back to her tweet through embed and natural anchor text links.
So, what does all of this mean? It means that if you are a celebrity or have a huge presence on Twitter you are going to start seeing your tweets show up in search much more. You may also find that companies and businesses reach out to you for advertising opportunities. If Taylor Swift says she is buying a brand new Audi A4 and posts a link to the Audi page that will likely have much more SEO value moving forward than it did in the past.
How Does This Help Google?
Think of it this way, this relationship is like WalMart and Proctor and Gamble. WalMart benefits by having Proctor and Gamble products in all its stores because people want toothpaste, paper towels and toilet paper. Proctor and Gamble benefits because they can sell more product with so many people shopping at WalMart. In this example, Google is WalMart and Twitter is Proctor and Gamble.
Billions of people search on Google every single week. Google wants to improve their search with real time results. Over the past 15 years Google has always send the end user is what matters. If the end user wants real time results why not give them real time results? In essence, both companies win when it comes to real time search. Twitter will gain a tremendous amount of exposure, especially during live events. Google will provide sports scores, award show updates and real time news events. No longer will it be the case that fans have to go to ESPN and Yahoo! to get scores. They will not have to go to CNN or Fox News to get presidential debate updates. They will be able to get it through real time search results on the front page of Google.
How Much Will Twitter Make?
Twitter made $41 million in the third quarter for data-licensing revenue. This number is likely to double or triple with the Google deal. Google has $70 billion cash on hand so I would be shocked if they did not pay Twitter well over $200 million for access to their data. Do not quote me on that, but it is well worth it from the standpoint of making search better.
If you have crunched the numbers or have any information as to how much Twitter will make on this deal please feel free to comment below.
Why Google+ Did Not Work
Originally, Google wanted to replace Twitter real time search results with Google+ real time search results. Unfortunately, Google+ never caught on when it came to sports and real time events. In fact, almost no one updates Google+ during live events.
The more Google pulls the plug with Google+ the more it will be the case they partner with Twitter and other social networks. I look for Google and Twitter to continue their relationship and Google has moved many employees off the Google+ team. Heck, even with over 800,000 followers I cannot get any engagement or interaction on Google+.