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Early in February 2015, a great big slab of news landed in everyone’s news feeds – Twitter and Google had struck a deal to show tweets in SERPs. Déjà vu? Maybe it’s 2009 again… But how can this help the parties involved, why are they going for it? And what does this mean for your SEO?
“Big whoop” I hear you say, “My account’s been indexed forever”. Google has long been able to crawl some of Twitter (and around 7% of all tweets), throwing data into the index and pulling it up if and when it matters. But the thing with tweeting is that it’s instant. Crawling (by its very name) is slow. The two don’t marry well.
Also – Imagine trying to crawl every tweet as and when it happened – the whole thing would implode. Nobody’s going to want that.
With news and emerging stories, the immediacy of Twitter makes journalists (and marketers) froth at the mouth. Relevant, time sensitive information is tweeted as and when it happens. But Twitter is the traditional news world’s Kryptonite and the marketing world’s long prophesised golden goose. Will Twitter become the most important publisher and online advertiser after Google itself?
Twitter is pretty amazing. In an instant, you’re communicating with anybody. It’s accessible, easy fast and free. It’s full of friends, customer services, family, colleagues, business connections, celebrities and cats – a whole universe of potential. But it’s not without problems. CEO Dick Costolo knows these problems all too well. One of Twitter’s biggest problems lies not in trolls, bullies or spam – but in monetisation. Ads, sponsored tweets – this is where the money is.
But part of getting that revenue relies on a fresh user base and traffic to those profitable streams. With user growth slowing, Twitter needs to capture people somehow and get eyeballs on those advertisements. Google’s got users in spades. Even if those users don’t become tweeters but they do see and click some ads, Twitter gets what it needs.
This one’s a little harder to see. After all, Google and Twitter had a similar deal from 2009-2011 which lapsed, bringing an end to real time results. Google wanted to keep going, but Twitter CEO of the time Ali Rowghani wasn’t into sharing, thinking Twitter was better off closed and keeping its own data.
So why does Google want this so bad? Because Google is slow to react. It’s amazing how that’s possible, because even though it’s now a large entity, Google is very surprisingly reactive and responsive to change.
Maybe Google+ was to become the harbinger of real time data after launching in 2011. Maybe that’s Google saying to Twitter – “we can play this game too”. But for all the positives (see what I did there?!) of Plus, the platform just isn’t cool (sorry, tech industry). Twitter is cool. Twitter is ICE COLD. Google wanted this for Plus but never really got there. Google isn’t seen as trendy. It’s still the geek – commendable and reliable, cool amongst its friends, passionately advocated (or besmirched) by other geeks. But Twitter is the hippest cat on the ‘net. Everyone wants to be there, rather than Google’s imposed Plus commenting system and “YOU WILL USE IT” stance.
With that willing entrance into a social platform that Google so desperately wants, Twitter holds the cards on real time social. The only cool thing Google has is search. Maps, images, shopping and all that jazz might be useful, but it’s not cool. To search is to Google, to Google is to search. It’s cool to Google stuff, not cool to Bing it.
So Google must be pretty glad that to have the “now-ness” of Twitter’s data back in the mix. It can now deliver search results on events not only as they happen, but from every conceivable angle, from the very frontline, from numerous opinions and closer than any journalist could ever dream of getting.
Google wins because it gets data on events as they emerge. Twitter wins because they expose their ads to swathes of non-users, picking up more on the way.
Of course what everyone wants to know is how to use this new teaming of titans to their advantage. It means that now, all tweets have potential to rank in Google results – maybe even highly, depending on context, timeliness and popularity. It’s not just closed to Twitter anymore – it’s public. Wide open. Tweets all over the place. On request. You should be very interested!
You could be winning more customers from tweets found in Google. You could win SEO visibility from a single tweet. Madness! Maybe so – but if social metrics are something Google wants to make important, you should be making it important for your SEO too. Here are some top tips on leveraging the Google Twitter deal and having a little win of your own:
There you have it – the what, why and how. Feel free to tweet me up @AlMoghadam too!
Samantha Noble is well known within in the search industry, she even won the UK Search Personality 2016 at the UK Search Awards in November. This year, she continues to make an impact on the industry by judging not only one, but three, prestigious industry awards.