Twitter & Google have decided to join forces once again to try and make the search landscape a better place for all users. As a result, Google will soon have access to Twitter’s entire feed of tweets so that each tweet can be more effectively ranked in the search engine results page. This means that more than ever before, social media could play a direct role in search engine result rankings - and marketers need to be aware of what the proposed changes could mean for the digital marketing industry.
Google previously had access to Twitter's constant feed of content, but not on the back end basis they needed in order to correctly rank every tweet individually. Google’s web crawlers could have continuously visited the site and crawled the Twitter feed that way, but this would not have been optimal for Twitter’s user experience, as it could have tied up the site with a constant stream of bot traffic that slowed everything down. As a result, the two digital powerhouses decided to come to an agreement so Google could find tweets more efficiently. By giving Google access to the entire feed, Twitter is now making sure that Google will be able to index each tweet in the search engine results page in order to give it more potential long-term value to generate traffic and engagement for individuals and businesses alike.
How Are Social Media and SEO Currently Related?
Now we’re entering a bit of an unknown area. We do know that social media does have an effect on SEO, but to what extent? Marketers have a vague understanding of the correlation between the two, but we do know that at this point Google can see social media activity at a high level, but not as detailed as it will be with the new direct access to Twitter content. This high level links the two with high traffic content, so while social does come up in search results, it is primarily a trending topic or relevant news to your search query. The new level of access for Google to Twitter’s feed is expected to create a whole different ballgame for the link between social and SEO.
Back in 2013, a Moz study examined the correlation between search rankings and Google+ links and gave us a good idea of the basic correlation between that specific social media platform and SEO. The findings pointed towards posts from Google+ holding other SEO benefits that you wouldn't find on other social channels - most specifically in terms of Google+'s +1s acting as equity passing links. Now that Google will have direct access to Twitter data, it isn't too far fetched to think that this could also become the case when someone shares or retweets a piece of content on the platform.
Why Is This Important?
Google will now be able to rank individual tweets in terms of relevance (similar to a quality score in AdWords, we assume) for specific search queries. This will make it a lot easier for Google to recognize meaningful content and bring attention to notable conversations within the Twitter platform as well as existing important content outside of Twitter. From an SEO perspective, it isn't unreasonable to think that tweets might hold more value when it comes to page ranking as a result of Google being better able to understand how they might relate to a specific page or piece of content.
This agreement was just reached, and it is not yet in place, but the wheels are most definitely turning as Twitter gets the technical backend set for search engine results to begin picking up tweets. The launch of this is expected to happen within a few months.
What Does This Mean for the Social Media Marketer?
In the meantime, marketers (specifically those in the SEO & social fields) should work together to gain a stronger understanding of the content and keywords that should be included in your social content strategy moving forward. The focus on the long-term value of a tweet within a search engine may take precedence over the immediate response that you would usually seek in the Twitter feed. This idea is important for social media marketers to consider as they begin to shift their social strategies to reflect the upcoming changes.
We think there will be a substantial rise in the effect that social efforts have on SEO ranking in the future, and social marketers should look to expand their understanding of Google’s latest partnership with Twitter when building out a strategy and overall goals for a campaign in order to make sure that their business gets as much value as possible out of each and every tweet.