Our clients frequently ask us for our take on changes in the digital and search marketplace, particularly those that will require a shift in strategy and/or tactics for marketers. Below is a brief look at the recent move by Google to incorporate Tweets into search results. Like many innovations, this latest from Google is in its formative phase, so it’s too early to make definitive judgments about its ultimate impact. We will, of course, monitor the effects and provide our analyses as things progress.
A few months ago, Google and Twitter reached a deal that would allow Google to have broader access to the thousands of tweets posted every minute on Twitter. Google recently started to take advantage of the data by testing the tweets in mobile search engine results when users are searching for trending topics.
Google Real-Time Search
In October 2009, Google agreed to include Twitter’s updates in its search results. Since Google did not have access to the feed from Twitter, information on Twitter that is publicly available to Google’s crawlers would still be searchable and discoverable on Google. Google Real-Time Search had carried content from a variety of services beyond Twitter, including Facebook fan page updates.
In 2011, Google and Twitter agreed to terminate Real-Rime search, resulting in the data being removed from the Search Result pages. While Google has gotten by largely without social signals from other providers, the company believed that having its own data from Google+ would preclude the need to incorporate third-party data.
Why are Google and Twitter doing this?
We believe that Google wants its users to receive real time information as it happens. The Tweets themselves should help Google’s search results to be more relevant to end users, as this has always been one of Google’s main goals. In the future, we believe that Google may use the data from Twitter to measure authenticity and trust, which will help increase credibility and visibility.
What does this mean for advertisers, marketers and brands?
This change makes using Twitter a necessity to increase exposure. If Google adds Tweets in news results, this will give users real-time data before the major news outlets such as CNN can “break” news. If this happens, it could take away traffic from the main news sites and increase traffic to Google. There has been talk in the industry that the Twitter content will appear in the search results beginning this month. Some users have reported seeing Tweets and user names in searches. Google will send tons of free traffic and potentially increase conversions. For Promoted Tweets, Twitter has quietly removed the yellow badge from its main ad unit, hoping to make its native blend more into content and context in line with some of its social media competitors — including Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook — which also use text to call attention to in-stream ads.
While Google itself is not answering questions about the deal, it would be difficult to determine better rankings without disclosure.
Google may choose to use the data almost entirely behind the scenes algorithmically. If that’s the case, individual Tweets may not show up much in search results, but it is more likely that the Tweets—whether promoted or not—will show up within the regular web search listings when deemed to be significant.
Google will be able to algorithmically compute trending topics and suddenly show trending events in real time without relying on Twitter’s public lists and calculations. Perhaps in combination with all of the other authority and engagement metrics, Google will find enough algorithmic value in the quality of outbound links to begin factoring them into a signal for search results. We know Google will see the links; whether the links have any more value than today or not as a ranking signal remains to be seen. Since it just shows trending keywords, brands, marketers and advertisers will have to keep a close eye on Google Trends.