Google has signed a deal with Twitter and will begin displaying tweets in Google search results. The announcement is generating mixes reactions among SEO professionals and site owners.
Google made the very brief announcement in their official blog about the Twitter Deal as part of their goal to “create the most comprehensive, relevant and fast search in the world.” While it will be interesting to see what they do with Twitter tweets, I seriously doubt if this will bring them closer to reaching their goal.
For those not familiar with Twitter, it is a micro-blogging site that might be better described as a micro-messaging site. It is based on a cell phone text messaging model and limits the length of a message to 140 characters. Messages are called “tweets.” Links can be included to tweets, but the length of the URL is part of the 140 character limit. Online URL shortening tools are commonly used to add very brief URLs that are then redirected to the final destination page. In order to receive someone’s tweets, the user must sign up for a Twitter account and then voluntarily sign up to “follow” another Twitter user’s tweets.
Twitter can be effectively used to drive traffic to a web site if enough targeted users can be persuaded to sign up as followers. The main problem with Twitter is that the overwhelming majority of tweets are useless dribble. While it is an ideal medium for celebrities and politicians to get their message out, do we really need to know that one of them is eating a ham sandwich or about to leave to go grocery shopping?
At this point, we do not know how Google will display tweets in their search results. They may cluster them together like they currently tend to do with YouTube videos. The problem is that they may just clutter up search results and push web site pages further down in rank positions.
Do not expect to be able to use Twitter to build links to your site. All outbound links from the major social media sites are blocked in one fashion or another so that they do not pass any link value. In the case of Twitter, all links are nullified with a “nofollow” attribute. That effectively eliminates any link value that might otherwise be passed. It may be safe to assume that Google will do something similar with tweets that show up in their search results.
The real question is, “How will Google determine which tweets make it into their search results?” This could be based upon some Twitter internal ranking criteria, similar to the way that YouTube videos are ranked. It could be based upon the number of followers that forward a particular tweet to their followers. The most logical assumption is that keyword phrases in the tweets will be part of the ranking algorithm.
Until we can determine how Google will select a few choice tweets from the millions of useless tweets generated each day, it would be wise to make sure that each tweet that you send includes targeted keywords and a link to the appropriate page in your web site. It might also be a good idea to make sure that your most important targeted keyword phrases are included in the description in your Twitter account.
Microsoft announced similar deals with both Twitter and FaceBook for Microsoft’s Bing search engine, so it appears that a trend may be emerging.