What does the expiration of the Twitter deal with Google mean for SEO?
Quietly, or as quietly as anything that changes with Google happens, Google let their deal with Twitter expire. The original deal let Google gulp from Twitter’s stream of information from the millions of public profiles available. Along with the expiration of the Twitter deal Google has also shelved its Realtime search option, which twitter was a large portion of the “realtime” feed for that results sorting option.
• So what does this do to Google’s use of social indicators as part of their algorithm?
Google has stated previously that they use and integrate social signals into personalized search results(results that are tailored to your preferences when you are logged into your Google Account). So now that they are not getting the full Twitter feed what will happen to using these signals in their algorithm? We suspect that they will use a similar tactic they use with Facebook, which is crawl and index the publicly available content and depending on the total content available use that as a ranking signal. Other experts are also postulating that this is a move by Google or Twitter to break ties due to Google’s venture into the social realm with Google+. Although still in limited beta, Google appears to be betting heavily on their new social platform.
• Are marketers who started investing in social for ranking now out of luck?
It depends on how you are currently using your social networks. Are you simply trying to link and keyword spam the search engines or are you actually talking to your audience? If you are talking to your audience then there are benefits to be had from this tactic. Having your audience interact with your brand and your content can lead to increase traffic to your website; which in turn helps add to your site’s authority as a source, especially if they share it with their friends.
One thing you should learn from this experience as a company and a marketer, if you haven’t yet to this point, is that things change quickly on the internet, especially in search.
To stay above the fluctuations ask yourself these questions before changing your site to suit Google’s algorithm:
• “Does this change go beyond just appeasing Google?” (Answering “Yes” would be a good thing here. The focus of your site needs to be to talk to your customer and not talk to Google (unless they are buying what you’re selling.))
• “How does this benefit my audience?” (What is in it for them?)
So what is the net takeaway of the latest news from Google?
We suspect that this indicates a change of course for Google which had placed quite a bit of effort on integrating and using Twitter data in personalizing and tailoring their search results. However, they also appear to be readying to backfill the data loss with their own product. Another possible indicator of their desire to push Google+ is the rebranding of Picasa and Blogger to Google Photos and Google Blogs respectively. If Google places the weight of their existing brands in with this new service it more than likely means that they are willing to explore this for the long-term and as a business you should watch this as a potential long-term strategy as well.
If you continue to build your site and communities for your audience and not for the search engines you will have more long-term success and not feel the pinch of needing to make drastic sweeping changes. Good unique content (rather on the website or on social) is still King. Without content you cannot talk to your audience and without your audience you are nothing on the web.