Digital Marketing

The Long Awaited Return of Twitter's Google Juice Is Here

I joined Twitter back in October of 2007 at the urging of a PodCamp Boston presenter. For several months after that I failed to see the value in the service. My "Ah ha!" moment came when I noticed one of my friends had added a link to his Twitter profile on his email signature and I decided to explore why he would such a thing.

When I checked his Twitter profile I noticed that he had accumulated 600 followers. Then I googled his name. Sure enough, a link to his Twitter profile popped up on the first page of results. As I started to poke around a bit more I realized that each tweet created a unique URL. So, Google was indexing every single tweet as it would for any other page of content on the web. I immediately got it. I thought to myself:

Whoa! Twitter is Google juice!

That's right, every tweet a user posted had the potential to show up in someone's search results. That made Twitter extremely useful as a publishing tool.

Sadly, in July of 2011 Twitter decided it didn't need Google anymore for search and ended the tweet indexing relationship. At the time Twitter was riding high and some people were predicting that its real-time search results were going to put a serious hurt on Google's bottomline. 

How has Google's stock performed since Twitter canceled their tweet indexing relationship in July 2011? The chart above tells the story.

How has Google's stock performed since Twitter canceled their tweet indexing relationship in July 2011? The chart above tells the story.

Now that Twitter is a public company and scrambling to onboard new users and keep existing users engaged, they have decided that having tweets display in Google search results might not be such a bad idea after all. (Note: This is just my analysis of Twitter's likely motivation. There have been rumors that Google is in talks to acquire Twitter due to, what is considered by many as, a failure of Google+ to catch on.)

So what does the impending reappearance of tweets in Google search results mean for you and your business?

  1. Everyone can see your tweets. The big appeal of Twitter, for business, is that tweets are public people can view them and subscribe to your account with ease. The problem is not that many people actively use Twitter. A newly released Pew Research study of American social media usage revealed that only 8% of American adults use Twitter daily. (Note: 23% of American adults use Twitter. Only 36% of these people use the service daily. 23% * 36% = 8%) The average person simply has no real need for Twitter when they have Facebook for social. However, everyone uses Google. Once the tweet indexing is reactivated you can expect your tweets to reach a much wider audience.
  2. The SEO value of your tweets matter. There's only so much real estate on the first page of Google results. If Google is going to start displaying tweets there you want to be sure yours display where and for whom you would hope they would. Keywords, time, date, location, the size and relevance of your Twitter network, and the engagement of your tweets are likely to impact whether your tweets or someone else's display as a result for a given search. 
  3. Search Plus Your World is likely to be really important. About a year after Twitter terminated the tweet indexing relationship Google launched Search Plus Your World which allows you to see search results based on stuff your friends have shared on Google+ or YouTube. When Google announced the service they said they were open to including other social network results but Twitter declined. With the Twitter relationship rekindled it's a sure bet that who follows you and/or has your Twitter profile in their Google contacts will play a big role in what results display when they use the search engine.

The takeaway, Twitter might become much more important to your digital marketing strategy in 2015 and beyond. It's probably a good idea to start thinking about how you and your team will adjust your efforts.