Google Reveals Factors for Ranking Tweets

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It’s ok to say "no" to Twitter if that’s your thing. There’s a chance that it just doesn’t fit into your strategy or help you achieve your goals. That’s cool. However, if it is your thing, you may be interested in how Google ranks tweets. That is if search marketing is your thing.

Do you see Twitter as important to an effective search marketing campaign? Share your thoughts here.

Google and Microsoft almost simultaneously announced deals with Twitter a few months back, that would give the companies access to tweets in real-time to fuel their respective search engines’ real-time results. Microsoft immediately launched their version, but it was separate from the regular Bing search engine. Google waited a while, but eventually started incorporating real-time results right into regular Google SERPs (including not only tweets, but various other sources).

After the Twitter deals were announced, Bing came out and said, "If someone has a lot of followers, his/her Tweet may get ranked higher. If a tweet is exactly the same as other Tweets, it will get ranked lower."

Amit Singhal Google was not as vocal about how it would rank tweets and other real-time results, but the company has now shed a bit of light on that via an interview with MIT’s Technology Review. David Talbot interviewed Google "Fellow" Amit Singhal, who has led development of real-time search at the company. According to him, Google also ranks tweets by followers to an extent, but it’s not just about how many followers you get. It’s about how reputable those followers are.

Singhal likens the system to the well-known Google system of link popularity. Getting good links from reputable sources helps your content in Google, so having followers with that some kind of authority theoretically helps your tweets rank in Google’s real-time search.

"One user following another in social media is analogous to one page linking to another on the Web. Both are a form of recommendation," Singhal says. "As high-quality pages link to another page on the Web, the quality of the linked-to page goes up. Likewise, in social media, as established users follow another user, the quality of the followed user goes up as well."

But that’s only one factor.

Do you commonly use hashtags in your tweets? If your goal is to rank in Google’s real-time search index, you may want to cut down on that practice, because according to Singhal, that is a big red flag for a lower quality tweet. This seems to be part of Google’s spam control strategy.

Another noteworthy excerpt from the interview:

Another problem: how, if someone is searching for "Obama," to sift through White House press tweets and thousands of others to find the most timely and topical information. Google scans tweets to find the "signal in the noise," he says. Such a "signal" might include a new onslaught of tweets and other blogs that mention "Cambridge police" or "Harry Reid" near mentions of "Obama." By looking out for such signals, Google is able to furnish real-time hits that contain the freshest subject matter even for very common search terms.

Well, we certainly know more about Google’s strategy for tweet ranking now, but there are still plenty of questions about it. What is Google’s stance is on Ghost Tweeting? Are Google’s ranking factors a good reason to create and follow more Twitter lists in hopes for gaining more reputable industry followers?

The factors mentioned aren’t the only ones Google employs. It’s not like Google is going to tell us everything. It also helps to keep in mind that real-time search spans far beyond just tweets. Still, Twitter is clearly a big part of it, and even the significance of tweets themselves will evolve in time.

Google says it hopes to factor in geo-location data (with regards to tweets) into the real-time search results at some point. Google and Twitter engineers frequently collaborate on  real-time search, which Google itself says is evolving.

By the way, it stands to reason that Google’s strategy for ranking tweets probably shares similarities for how it ranks content from other sources drawn from for real-time search.

Is ranking in Google’s real-time search important to your strategy? Discuss here.

Google Reveals Factors for Ranking Tweets
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  • http://www.synergyconsultants.com Restaurant Consulting

    So its about how reputable those followers are. Sounds like another way of setting criterias for linking (citation) , sounds like its accurate to say that if you get followers from the dogs in restaurant industry like VSAG, Synergy Consultants, National Rest Consult. You can be up there in the real time search. neat! I guess its something that we can track. thanks Google~

  • http://texxsmith.com texxs

    Just as suspected, the biggest spammers, will get on top.

    It sounds like Google is going to try and sort through the spam though. Good luck, considering it’s twitter.

    I can see the desire because there are lots of real human on twitter and when something newsworthy happens, chances are some one on the scene is going to tweet about it, but within hours it’s going to be buried in spam again.

    Sounds like a tough task separating the spam from the news.

    Since the real people don’t have anywhere near as many followers as the spammers, then it’s likely if they use followers instead of date, time and relevancy as an important ranking factor that they will fail.

  • http://www.site-booster.com/blog/ Website Promotion Blog

    Considering the huge amount of energy or manual marketing efforts a website owners needs to put together to obtain top rankings in tweets as well as SERPs, I ask myself, “What should a small business owner do online to make sure his virtual real estate is noticed!” … and this would be the case if he even knows what to do, which I doubt everyone knows.

    Of course, it’s easy to say that he needs to hire a pro to get things done for him, but let’s see how much it’ll cost him. Some can afford it, but some others just have to watch how others succeed. Well, maybe this is how the marketing world helps businesses get advantages over others!

  • http://moneytiseonline.com ariston | earn money online

    i think, it’s time to learn SEO… =)

  • http://StephanieChandler.com Stephanie Chandler

    I suspect that more news will come and Google will continue to modify its algorithms to further filter out the noise. You’ve got to believe that they are also looking at length of time a user has had an account on Twitter along with number of followers. It was also interesting to read about their position on hashtags. Many thanks for the info.

  • http://JayMassey.com Jay Massey

    I can understand the monitoring of hashtags as spam control when indexing a twitter feed, however I wonder about one specific tag, the use of #fb for a Facebook Selective tweet.

    Does anybody have any word on whether #fb is derogatory in the Google/Bing algorithms.

  • http://powertofightthebigboys.com Doug Stewart

    In the last few days I’ve backtracked actual tweets that made it to Google’s new live search feature. The big boys aren’t the only ones winning this time. Here’s a video with a case study, http://bit.ly/8tswbD.

  • http://pagestat.com PageStat

    I was thinking the same thing, but had never discussed it or heard anyone else discuss it.

    So yeah, more followers the better you rank. I would then guess the better your links in your post rank as far topic go.

    Its nice to hear the final word from google however cryptic their message may be.

  • http://mst3.wordpress.com Doc

    I don’t understand why the use of tags becomes a “big red flag for a lower quality tweet”. Certainly, spammers will try to take advantage of tags, but as long as tags are mentioned in the text, I think they should be considered legitimate.

  • http://robertoblake.com Roberto Blake

    In order to evaluate how you as a reputable source I almost feel like they have to assign you a user ranking, something akin to the page rank system but based around twitter values like your following to the follower ration your Retweet ratios inbound links to your tweets, how often your tweets appeared in twitter user searches, thins like that would actually begin to make some sense.

  • http://twitter.com/sharonhayes Sharon Hayes

    I just blogged some thoughts:

    I am baffled why they would consider hashtags spam.

  • http://www.haleymarketing.com Brad

    Chris, as usual great post! Like everyone else, I’m pretty surprised that hashtags would be seen as a redflag, great to know that now! Also nice to know they aren’t ranking on following size alone.

  • http://www.blogbal.com Blogbal

    So, Kim Kardashian has a buttload of followers, but do I really give a hoot what she thinks about a certain topic … NO!

    Not to mention the fact that she gets a whopping $10,000 everytime she tweets about a product.

    • Guest

      Who the hell is Kim Kardashian? Exactly!

  • http://www.blogbal.com Blogbal

    I’m actually not shocked AT all since hashtags are to Twitter as meta keywords are to Google.

  • Guest

    I think you meant relevant.

  • http://www.blackballonline.com Pittsburgh Online Marketing

    We wrote this post on August 5, 2009 and it has never been more relevant. Pittsburgh SEO Your Twitter Tweets has all the logic built in.

    On the subject of hashtags; Hashtags used to be a way to incorporate your tweets into relevant areas. It is disheartening to think that they would be penalized but whatever the almighty Google desires.

    Next thought, what about a retweet? Will it draw a penalty as duplicate content? Following the Google method it should be sandboxed – and thus worthless – or even penalized.

    Once again, I guess it all comes down to research and testing.

  • http://www.biz-ball.com Charls

    Part of this game is just work: It is important to take care about twitter, facebook, etc…, but we just have to work, and be present, google will naturally going to rank better the correct page to specific search, it has to think how rank to do your job better…, and also time helps…

  • http://www.NationalShowTickets.com Mary

    Ranking tweets as to how many followers and the value of those followers is obviously part of an overall plan for better search results by the search engines and it makes since that they have to be careful to provide good results to their searchers.


  • http://www.dezinezone.com DeZiner

    In my opinion this may help get twitter real. If people in business use twitter as a business marketing tool to it’s potential they may realize the importance of real potential customers as followers instead of anyone and everyone they can get to follow.

  • http://watchlegionmovies.com/ watch legion

    Even if backlinks are nofollow..they are still good!!

  • http://blogsumberduit.blogspot.com West

    whether twitter best way to get a place in google??

  • http://www.php-web-developer.com Bikram

    How to do SEO via Twitter, exact help required. I mean if I want to rank a page of my site in Google (via Twitter) what I need to do in Twitter.

    I am a newbie in twitter.

  • http://www.lakepowellrealty.net Heather Rankin

    Couple of things ~ I don’t understand the hashtag being penalized. I’ve used them to look for relevant information almost every day.

    Are we going to see Twitter move to more verified accounts?

  • http://www.biz-ball.com Charls

    Off course, I see Twitter as important to an effective search marketing campaign!,

    • Guest

      Yes, using Twitter is “off course.”

  • http://www.nustylze.com Urban Clothing Guy

    I have held off of the twitter revoloution because I never saw the benefit. I mean yeah you could get traffic if you have enough followers, but it has seemed like in order to get a substantial number of followers spamming methods are being used. And it doesn’t look like that is changing anytime soon.

  • http://thealeksandar.com/ Aleksandar

    Yes, I see spammers and bots will get nice positions with this, too. There must be other serious factors to reveal who is person and who is not on Twitter.

  • http://www.port-douglas-australia.com Port Douglas Rick

    The comments above are valid. The choice is ours to make. In my opinion the jury is still out. If Google finds a way to make money from its relationship with Twitter then of course SEO will be affected by Twitter.

  • http://tomorriscat.ecrater.com/ ceebee

    Not surprised that the use of hash tags would be considered low quality by google.

  • http://www.Needawriter.us Sandra

    I’m a bit confused, what are considered quality twitter followers? How does google determine that? And I follow people who constantly are posting their ads. I mean they just sent it to me 2 seconds ago. Should I stop following them? Does that lower my quality?

    I try and post quality, inspirational stuff. Also, Is there a daily limit as well that we should stay under? I’m new to this whole twitter thing. Any advice?

    I’m trying to promote my writing site www.needawriter.us. But my main twitter account is under my personal training services “positiveworkout” Should I keep them separate? I need any and all advice I can get, to compete in this tough market. Please help me. If anyone can give me any advice, I would be greatly appreciative.

    • Guest

      I can give you advise. Stop wasting your time with Twitter.

  • http://www.rayandaarts.com Rayanda

    Google’s once again being vague at best in their strategy. However, I think a lesson we can all learn from this article is to focus on the quality of our tweets. Are they of value to our audience? Do we post links to interesting, compelling content? Are we utilizing good keywords for our business? It will be interesting to see how tweet ranking plays out in the search engines. In the meantime, I will continue tweeting quality content that will actually be of use to search engines if they do decide to index it.


  • http://www.docucopies.com Color Copies

    I personally feel that everyone — the media, respected personalities in SEM and SEO, search engines, etc. — have been greatly overstating the importance of tweeting for businesses. This is usually coming from the same people who always encourage us to build quality, thoughtful and useful content which others will want to link to. But let’s cut through the crap — you cannot put quality, in-depth content into 140 characters or less. You have to use this to link to your quality content, which should really make you consider whether Twitter is the best venue for that (rather than, say, Facebook).

    But even so, there’s only so much quality content some companies can put out. As an e-commerce company who sells a very specific niche of products (discounted color copies and printing), how much stuff do you think there is we could put up that has anything to do with our company and still has the power to “go viral”?

    Probably the one thing that had the most potential was our TV commercial. It was funny and it featured two semi-celebrities (a former Timberwolves player and former Timberwolves president / Jewish Sports Hall-of-Famer). But even so, it hardly “went viral,” even among Minnesotans and sports nuts who might stand a chance of recognizing said celebrities.

    Basically you have to evaluate, first off, whether there’s anything you can use Twitter for that will have even the slightest effect on your company. Then decide what and how, and try to get an idea of how much time that is going to take to do. 95% of the time I tweet anything it’s a mention of our current promotional specials — usually a meaningful, tangible percentage off a job’s total price (10, 20, 25, etc.) which catches people’s eyes. This definitely has a measurable effect. But when I put up a link to our latest company blog post, hardly anyone cares (and neither would I if I weren’t writing it!).

    Even if you do have quality content people will want to link to and share, you have to make it easy. Install widgets just below or beside it that will allow people to Share it on Facebook, re-Tweet it on Twitter, etc., within 1 or 2 clicks. In this increasingly ADD-centric society, you have to make stuff easy and fast or it’s worthless, especially on the Web.

    Bottom line: Just because every nerd, celebrity and politician in the country is going tweet-crazy doesn’t mean you can cash in on it. Invest a little time in brainstorming whether it’s worth it, before wasting a LOT of time tweeting garbage.

    By the way, in case I’ve peaked your interest, you can view the aforementioned commercial here: http://www.docucopies.com/tv-commercial.asp (note the lack of share-oriented widgets!)

  • http://www.presentationpro.com Dan

    This is all well and good but really only makes a difference for when someone tries to do a real time search for breaking news and has to fish for relavent tweets/ news hits. If everyone spams the phrases like ‘michael jackson is dead’ but there’s no useful content behind it, just a link to a spam site, then the link is useless even if it does have a high following.

    I’ll be interested to see how businesses try to pick up on it for marketing. My company tweets and uses social networking as a very small segment of marketing but the content is actually worthwhile to the followers. For instance, we often post coupons to tweets or facebook that wouldn’t be found on our site or in email campaigns. It works to keep people interested in the feed but would probably not affect traffic all that much.

    http://www.presentationpro.com – Experts for Microsoft PowerPoint

  • http://www.kansascityrealestate411.com Ken Jansen

    Great article. I have just started using twitter for SEO purposes and it seems to be working well for some local items such as subdivisions or smaller suburbs. I added a social media toolbar on my IDX search page and I can see the benefits already.


    Ken Jansen REALTOR
    Jansen Realty Group, Inc. Olathe, KS.

  • Naveen Thomas

    I don’t really know what to make of this. Skimming Twitter will show that high profile celebs in any/every industry control the reigns as far as followings go. I suspect the Twitter scenario will expand to include a larger network of twitter accounts in respect to google ranks. Otherwise, it would be easy for any conglomerate to simply hire Twitter “stars” to syndicate content.

    As for Google real time searches, the thing that perplexes me is the neccessity for it. Do we really need real time search results. Except of course if its News, products and services wouldn’t require a similar course of action to be visible to consumers.

    After all, I liken Google to a Yellow pages directory. Having said that, will this mean that the consortium of pre-defined user search options actually assist real search needs, or limit it by creating back end sub-set categories that are at some level linked to keyword purchases and sites that are already generating high volume click thru rates.

    If that were the case, I think the only thing that’s changing is the paradigm of business to business consumerism and business to consumer metrics.

    But again, isn’t this supposed to be a consumer to business state of play? Real time searches. Twitter ranks. Syndicated content. Huge amounts of backlinks.

    And I thought people only changed radio stations because of too many ads.

    I’d like to discuss SEO with anyone really and really gauge global market patterns.

    Drop me a mail at icebomb@hotmail.com or visit me on ww.digitalinclination.blogspot.com – nothing much here yet tho’ so no worry worts please


  • http://www.seospidy.com seospidy

    Quality resource Thanks for information.

  • http://www.netlogos.com.br cria

    Thanks for article, I

  • http://montrealqualitysitedesign.com John

    Only a matter of time before Twitter becomes the preferred marketing tool :)

    SEO Expert and Marketing Strategist

  • http://montrealqualitysitedesign.com John

    Only a matter of time before Twitter becomes the #1 marketing tool for Social Media :)

    SEO Expert and Marketing Strategist

  • http://slidehunter.com/ Cote Bruce

    Thanks for sharing kind information :)

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