The partnership between social and search is all set to witness a dramatic turnaround with the recent tie-up between Google and Twitter, reported by Bloomberg Business, late Wednesday night. With this deal expected to go live in the first half of 2015, Twitter will provide Google access to its firehose data stream which in turn will allow Google to index tweets in real time.
This is not the first time Google and Twitter have tied up for mutual benefit. A similar deal was struck way back in 2011 when Tweets were indexed and showed up in Google’s search engine results. The deal expired in 2011 without being renewed and the entire treasure trove of tweets was erased from search results over night.
Both Google and Twitter had their own vision for pushing real time data back then and while each of them has come a long way, they still need each other just as much to take the next leap forward.
Twitter in particular has seen a rapid erosion of its user base with a great many of them logging out. Growth has been slow on all fronts and there is a growing concern over bleeding away more users. It is this declining user base that has Twitter re-evaluating its strategies. Trevor O’Brien, director of product management at Twitter has shared that in early 2015 Twitter sought to bring back growth by allowing Google access to its fire hose data stream again, and the result was an astounding ten-fold increase in the number of returning users, in other words 75 million logged out users returning to the site. With this partnership Twitter is targeting getting back all its logged out users and getting them to start actively Tweeting again. Google in turn benefits from increasing relevance to users through real time indexing of Twitter’s fire hose data stream.
This new Twitter and Google relationship provides businesses and marketers with a golden opportunity to leverage Tweets as an important element of the overall SEO strategy. Tweets will need to be written for a much bigger landscape than before, they will no longer be restricted within the Twitter bubble but also have the potential of being highly visible in search engines as well, lending greater exposure and visibility to your website. For businesses, Tweets showing up in search results translate to increased traffic to the site and an improvement in user engagement on Twitter, both of which bode well for business. But this involves changing the nature of Tweets to make them more SEO friendly. I have put down a few pointers below on how businesses and marketers can make the best use of the 140 characters to increase search visibility and traffic to the site.
It is going to be important to ensure keywords are available not only in your Tweets but also in the contents of the page url shared by you on Twitter as Google will need to confirm relevance of the page and the Tweet with the search terms entered by the user before deciding on the ranking of the tweet in search results. The greater the relevance of the keyword in the Tweet and the page contents to the search terms, the higher is going to be the likely ranking of your tweet in search results.
Engagement will matter, the greater the comments, shares and likes for your tweets, the greater is going to be the probability of garnering higher search ranking on Google. In other words, any positive indicators of user engagement with your social media content which in turn point towards relevance are likely to increase your visibility on Google search, so try and make your Tweets as interesting and relevant as possible for a wider group of audience.
Catering to Mobile Audience
As the number of searches through mobile devices increase, Tweets will have to be written keeping the mobile audience in mind as well which means keeping in mind search terms most commonly used to search on mobile. Research shows that mobile users are more interesting to use devices for locating a physical store, checking product or service reviews or simply researching on a product/service. Ensuring that your tweet is geared towards catering to their needs is essential to ensure high search visibility as search goes increasingly mobile.
Users are all set to benefit from the Google-Twitter relationship as it enables Search and Social to engage in a more meaningful way to enhance user experience. Now there is nothing on social that is likely to get missed, for instance suppose you were off Twitter for a couple of hours and returned to find that you missed a trending hashtag. Now you can simply search for it on Google and feel part of the action on social media.
Let’s take a real life example. For instance, I want to catch up on the latest political news related to NarendraModi, who incidentally is one of the very few politicians in India to have used Twitter extensively as part of his election campaign. I type in #tag Modi in Google search and this is a screen shot of what shows up in search results. Tweets related to Modi appear at the top of Google search results enabling you to stay updated on the latest trending topics/ tweets related to NarendraModi and by extension Indian politics.
The results throw up some interesting observations
- Businesses not already on Twitter need to build a Twitter presence now more than ever, else they stand to lose out to competition.
- The nature of Tweets itself are going to change as SEO practices will start driving business tweets
- For Twitter, the alliance opens up an alternative revenue source and it remains to see how well Twitter is able to monetize it.
It’s still early days yet for the tie up and marketers are still trying to master the implications of the deal on search rankings. How Tweets will eventually figure in search rankings is still to be figured out, what is however obvious is this partnership between search and social marks a further evolution in the growth of Search.