I think its been a little over 6 months or just about 6 months since Google started indexing Twitter and Facebook pages. Actually I think it has been much longer for Facebook, regardless there has been a more concentrated effort by Google to index the real time information. Since then it has been left to speculation on how they were going to prioritize Tweets and insure that they are relevant. Obviously this is quite an undertaking when you can imagine that their are not just millions of web pages being created everyday, but additionally million and millions of tweets happening every day and compounding the difficulty is the fact that tweets are limited to 140 characters. So there is not a ton of context available for Google to evaluate a tweet.
I came across an article earlier this week on ClickZ or Search Engine Watch, which as usual I cannot find now Search Engine Land that vaguely discussed how Google was possibly ranking Tweets. There were a few comments from a Google technician that mentioned how many followers you may have, the quality of those followers, etc, but towards the end of the article he mentioned that Google was having a difficult time with Hashtags. He did not go into any detail as to why, but I believe I have the answer to why this poses a problem and the answer to how Google is going to be ranking Tweets.
Twitter Results in Google
Today, I did a quick search for the company “Peer 1″, not Pier 1, but the hosting company “Peer 1″ and came across these results below. This is not the first time I have come across Twitter results in the SERPs, but it is the first time I have come across it in this format.
The first thing you will notice is the very first organic results are from Twitter. The highlighted Tweet included the Hashtag “#Peer1″ and then Peer 1’s company Tweet. At the time of the index the second listing was the companies most recent Tweet. They have since updated it and now have an additional Tweet following it. After seeing this page, the comments of the Google technician in the ClickZ article are now starting to make sense. There are two very clear ways, based on these results, Google is ranking Tweets. First, is the keyword in the name of the profile? I am sure the are also looking at the profile descriptions to further validate a companies ownership. Secondly, they are ranking Tweets based on Hashtags. This can be very difficult if tweets include several hashtags, especially irrelevant tags. It is my assumption that they are not even looking at or better yet ranking Tweets with multiple hashtags. To be able to look at Tweets with multiple tags they would need to be able to rank the importance of the hashtags between each other and of course determine this with only 14o characters. That would seem almost impossible to me, but I am sure they will one day figure it out.
Evaluating the Twitter Profile
A deeper look into the profile that was highlighted by Google, @seree, you will find that there were numerous Tweets with the hashtag #Peer1. What is interesting is that the person is located in Thailand and has only 108 followers. @seree is not a “power twitterer”. This person did, however, have a number of tweets that were relevant to each other and very similar in nature. @seree also had several Tweets about Rackspace and other hosting companies.
The other thing you will notice is that Google is taking at 24 hours, at best, to index Tweets. This can also be proven if you set up Google Alerts for your profile name. For Google to leverage the real time information provided via Twitter this will obviously need to improve.
SEO and Twitter
When Google started taking Tweets seriously it propelled Twitter into the SEO world. It is no longer simply a social media tool. It is a content creation tool used to build organic rankings. Companies that have been putting off creating Twitter accounts can no longer use excuses like, “my audience is not on Twitter” or “what is my company going to say on Twitter”, which were never good excuses in the first place. There is now more value then simply creating a following and leveraging that following to market your product or improve your customer service. Your organic rankings are now at risk.
These results are currently a rare occurrence, but that will change soon. It is now time to get your company on twitter use hashtags in your tweets, preferably just one tag per tweet and make the tags very clear and precise. Couple that with a consistent and natural looking conversations your Tweets just may be ranked number one in Google’s search.
What has been speculated on has now been confirmed.
- Google is looking heavily at Hashtags when ranking tweets
- Stuffing your tweets with multiple hashtags could be harmful
- They are also looking at the Twitter users over all content on their profile. Recent tweets, etc
- The amount of followers a person has, probably does not play a factor.
- They are looking for and ranking the Twitter accounts from company owned profiles, regardless of if the Tweet is relevant to the search.