Google and Twitter have teamed up. Here are 4 things Google stands to gain
In February earlier this year, two internet giants struck a deal. This deal granted Google access to Twitter’s stream of data. This will allow the search engine to use this vast pool of information to refine search results pages (SERPs), and incorporate even more considerations into its already monumentally complex algorithm.
Google is the world’s most popular search engine. It currently uses over 200 “signals” that determine the specific results page that is shown for any given search term. These “signals” include region, relevance, and site popularity etc.
Twitter is one of the world’s largest social media sites. Its tweets along with its hashtag system make it almost unique when it comes to monitoring worldwide trends in real time.
However even though this marriage has all the hallmarks of a match made in heaven, there remains the question of what it is exactly that Google wants to learn from Twitter’s data stream.
Of course Google will be able to access information that deals directly with tweets themselves. They will also have received data on things that are currently trending worldwide. Both of these things will undoubtedly help Google determine which tweets to display in search results, but there may also be things they will learn that they can incorporate into their algorithm as a whole.
So, what will Google get from this deal?
The type of information that Google will be receiving from Twitter as a result of this new deal can be divided into 4 main categories. Each of these categories will present Google with a slightly different data set and therefore will be used to supplement certain aspects of search.
- 1. Tweet Strength
Tweet strength can be described as the level of engagement that a tweet has received. There are several ways in which Twitter users can engage with a tweet.
When a tweet gets retweeted, the tweet becomes visible to all of the followers of the person who retweeted it. This means that if a tweet has a high number of retweets, there have been a large number of people that believed that the tweet would be valuable to other people that they interact with on twitter. A retweet is also somewhat of an endorsement as the tweet will now appear on the retweeter’s timeline.
Google can use the retweet count of a given tweet to great effect when it comes to SERPs. It will tell Google that the tweet is worth more exposure and visibility and should therefore rank higher in searches. Retweets are probably the most powerful metric that Twitter has to offer, in this regard.
A favourite on Twitter can be easily compared to a “like” on Facebook. It is essentially a tick of approval that is displayed publicly. However if someone has chosen to favourite a tweet but not retweet it, then it displays somewhat of a reluctance to share with their followers.
Google could use this most effectively as it allows them to see what tweets are seen as having longevity and which ones are seen as being more broadly important.
Video Plays/Link Clicks
Whilst these two forms of engagement won’t tell Google exactly what the users thought about the things that they clicked on, it still offers a good indicator of the level of interest that a certain topic holds. Google will also be able to use this information alongside the other metrics such as favourites or retweets. This means that they’ll be able to determine the ratio of retweets to views that a tweet received, this will allow them to establish the success rate/popularity of a link.
- 2. Trend Strength
Trends on twitter work by using a hashtag before chosen phrase or word. If enough people around the world are using that same hashtag then it will start to “trend”. Hashtags can trend locally or globally and Twitter offer a breakdown of the areas where a trend is occurring.
The main thing that trending information can offer to Google is a real time update of any large scale piece of news. If a trend develops almost instantly then it is indicative of something that has occurred without much warning i.e. a natural disaster. Alternatively, if a trend grows steadily over a week or two then it indicates a topic that is scheduled to happen i.e. the Oscars or the Olympics.
Google will be able to put this to great use on their SERPs and may even find a way to incorporate it into their own “Trends” page.
- 3. Twitter Users
As with any social media site Twitter could not function without its users. Google will now have access to information on the level of influence that each person has. This doesn’t mean that they will have access to all your personal information, but instead that they will be able to look at certain things about your profile that demonstrate how influential your account is.
This indicates the number of people who will see each tweet that you post.
This indicates the difference between the amount of people that you follower and the amount that follow you.
Google will be able to use both of these factors to determine whether to display your tweets in search results. For example if there are plenty of similar tweets about the Oscars then Google will probably only display the tweet that was sent by the person with over 1million followers.
- 4. Page Strength
In addition to gaining information about specific tweets or Twitter users, Google will also be able to access information on how many links a normal webpage gets from Twitter. As anyone who follows SEO developments will know, the number of links to a page is a significant ranking factor on SERPs.
Google could decide to use this information, coupled with the time factor, to determine where these linked to sites rank in organic searches. Whilst they may not decide to rank a page higher on a permanent basis due to this metric, it seems like it could make sense for them to temporarily rank higher whilst they are receiving a significant amount of click-throughs and links from Twitter.
When will we know what this partnership means?
Both Google and Twitter have been very quiet on this topic and neither has given away much when it comes to how these metrics will be used.
We won’t know the answer for certain until the changes are put into places and all tweets become index-able. That is supposed to happen in the first half of 2015 – in other words very soon. Once we reach that point then we’ll be able to see what changes (if any) there are to the SERPs.
One thing that we can be certain of is that tweets, and Twitter as a whole, will become much more relevant to search rankings than they ever have been before. It is therefore a good idea for companies and individuals to pay close attention to their social media campaigns and how these link into the ranking of their site on SERPs.