Is This How Google Is Going To Use Tweets?

Chris CrumSearch

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It looks like Google's new Twitter integration might be starting to take effect, with one possible format seen in the wild on Android.

Are you looking forward to Google utilizing Twitter more? Discuss.

Earlier this year, it came to light that Google and Twitter struck a new deal that would see Google indexing tweets in real time and that tweets would become more visible in Google's search results as soon as they're posted. During Twitter's earnings conference call last week, CEO Dick Costolo said that the new integration would roll out in May. That was as specific as he got. It looks like some users may already be seeing some of that integration.

Read: Google's Twitter Update Is About To Hit: Here's What Businesses Should Be Thinking About

Search Engine Land has a screenshot of what appears to be an eight-minute old tweet from Gary Valenciano about the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight, which was apparently surfaced through a related search. It appears under a CNN result and its accompanying "more news for mayweather pacquiao" option. The Twitter result comes with a "feedback" link, indicating that the feature is a work in progress. There's also a screenshot with a tweet fro Steve Benfrey in results for Carly Fiorina.

Barry Schwartz, who was tipped with the screenshot by Razorfish's Dan Martin, writes, "He told me he sees it happening on and off on his Android device for many trending topics right now, such as [maythe4thbewithyou], [Carly Fiorina], [Jimmy Greaves] and other searches. I personally cannot replicate this on any of my devices, but it would not surprise me if Google is now testing this and may roll it out any day."

Trying these searches on my own Android device, I'm not seeing the style shown in the screenshot. I did get this for "maythe4thbewithyou," but that appears to be more app indexing related:

As you may know, Google also recently turned app indexing into a ranking signal (and even expanded that signal further a couple weeks ago).

Read: Google Does More With Recently Added Ranking Signal

The above screenshot actually illustrates how that particular update might also help Twitter, who made the Google deal to drive more traffic to its service, which has been struggling to grow its user base fast enough to please investors. Even if Google doesn't show sufficient real time tweets as a result of its Twitter integration, it may still point users to fresh Twitter content by way of the Twitter app.

It's unclear if anyone is seeing the new Twitter integration on non-Android devices, and to what extent the feature is being seen by users at all.

Asked about the integration, a Google spokesperson told WebProNews, "As mentioned in Twitter’s earnings call back in January, we’ve partnered to bring their real-time content to Google Search. We've started some small experiments in mobile search, but we don’t have more to announce at this point."

They didn't elaborate beyond that. Is this the extent of what the deal is going to bring to the table, or is this just one of multiple possible integrations? My guess is the latter.

Beyond integrations directly into the search results, it's possible that Google will also be getting more data from the tweets when it comes to ranking the content that they point to.

We recently looked at some findings from Stone Temple Consulting, which analyzed Twitter's past use of tweets, and found links in tweets having a significant impact.

“Google still loves links. 26% of the tweets with an inbound link from sites other than Twitter got indexed. That is nearly 4 times as much as the overall average rate of indexation,” said Eric Enge in the report, adding that link quantity correlates highly with a tweet getting indexed.

They found that out of 21 accounts and 91 tweets with with over 100 inbound links, 46% were indexed. The number goes down the less inbound links there are. Those with less than ten links only saw a 7% index rate.

We later had a discussion with Enge, who said, "As you may know, there are many sites out there that simply replicate lots of tweets on their sites. I am not sure what value they serve, or if any people actually visit such sites. But, some of the links tweets get come from such sites, and my bet is that Google ignores those."

"However, there are other sites that may reference tweets within a blog post or article, and link in a clean traditional web link based fashion to the URL for the tweet itself...it is these links that I believe that Google is placing a high value on."

It's also possible that having access to Twitter's firehose will enable Google to better rank fresh articles based on the Twitter activity they get. They'll at least be able to look at that as a more significant signal with the real time element coming into play.

Google completed the roll-out of its big mobile-friendly algorithm update late last week. At the time, the company indicated that it wasn't finished indexing everything. Google also recently indicated that its doorway page update had completed its roll out.

Do you see the Twitter integration as a positive for Google results? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Note: This article has been updated from its original form.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.