Yesterday at the Web 2.0 Summit, Microsoft announced an agreement with Twitter to begin indexing Tweets in its organic search results. Later in the day, Google announced they too had reached an agreement with the popular micro-blogging service, which now boasts 55 billion unique visitors per month and a $1 billion valuation.
Microsoft wasted little time adding the tweets to their search results in a new feature they’ve dubbed “Bing Twitter.” Google has yet to announce how they will incorporate Twitter updates in their search results.
I asked some fellow Search Agents to consider the potential impact of these agreements on the industry, the companies involved, SEO best practices, and search behavior:
This is definitely a big step for Twitter towards validation as a long term play and not a short term fad. It would also seem to be either a dangerous game for the search engines or acceptance of a reality that social media is only going to grow and that if they do not try to integrate then they are going to shed unique users and lose market share.
Rick Egan | Sr. Director, SEO & Social Media Services
An interesting approach Google may take would be to do something like Wave, where searches stream real-time results. Some Twitter clients' search tools do this as well.
Carl A. Dunham| Chief Technology Officer
I’m curious to see how the engines are going to combat spam and libel. Will be fun to watch.
George Gearhart | SEO Project Manager
This may end up reducing the number of clicks to paid search. Ultimately, it should make Twitter more important, although likely not for anything commercial.
David Hughes | Chief Executive Officer
The Google vs. Bing fight is all about infrastructure and Ph.D’s (Ph.D’s actually are infrastructure, if they can come up with algorithms 5% more effective you can skip spending $1 Billion on that next datacenter). If Bing can utilize Twitter and Facebook’s infrastructure and Ph.D’s to do some of the sifting for them, that’s a huge win – it’s a big web and this is all about coverage. A loose federation of large-infrastructure companies, combined with massive capital subsidies from upcoming Windows 7 profits that could be used to build more Microsoft datacenters, just might be enough to give Bing a real fighting chance.
Ted Ives | VP, Product Management
It will be interesting to see how they implement this. I wouldn’t expect a huge affect. They don’t want to be posting 5 hour old Reuters and AP articles that Michael Jackson is in the hospital when people Tweeting at the scene have been saying he’s dead for the last 6 hours. I think that it is more of a crushing blow to Newspapers and Old Media.
Bing reformatted their results to fit additional things. Google seems intent on keeping their format. So, they will probably just integrate 2 or 3 current Tweets where they would normally put links to news article.
However, they are opening themselves up to some dangerous territory. I hope their Language, Slang, and Acronym Filters are up to date.
In Google’s vertical search integration (Universal Search), most of their results have some other weight behind them in order for them to rank. In order to try to integrate ‘real time’ data, they will be putting results into their listings without really knowing what they say. In an effort to scoop the news, there would be no verify step (e.g. trusted domain, good links, etc…). It will be like customized license plates, Tweeters will be competing with each other to see what they can get past the filters and how effectively they can TweetBomb bogus stories into Google Results.
Otto | Chief Research Officer & EVP, Search Engine Optimization
1. Twitter realizes that while they’ve gone viral and sign-ups are through the roof, they’re ACTIVE user numbers are actually rather low. Most “lay-people” are not very familiar with one of the powers of Twitter (i.e. real-time search), so this is a great play on Twitter’s part to widen their reach vis-à-vis the attachment that consumers have to Google (and to a far lesser extent , to Bing). Folks who live under rocks and haven’t heard of Twitter, or folks who have heard of it but are not motivated to sign-up yet, will begin to see the value of Twitter as a part of their SERPs, this list also includes the non-active Twitter folk.
2. For our clients, the opportunity lies in having very active keyword-targeted Tweets which appropriately represent their brand and have tinyURLs within the visible text that the SEs index, so users can click from the SERPs directly to the link that our clients want users to arrive at, thus skipping the Twitter page all-together. Points 1 & 2 almost contradict each other, as far as benefits to Twitter, but if Twitter’s smart they’ll make sure their http://www.twitter.com is plainly visible to the user.
A. Waleed Rashid | Project Manager, SEO
I’m not 100% certain that Google or Bing fully understand the implications of indexing real-time search. Looking through my Twitter stream, I manually filter out the 1 tweet in a 100 that has any real value and am sure that once the search giants become involved, SPAM filtering will be their biggest and most resource-intensive issue. That aside, with only 140 characters and a half-baked (and easily spammed) hash tag 'categorization' on Twitter, I’ll be very interested to see how Google delivers on it’s core value of relevancy.
Grant Simmons | Director, SEO Account Management
As of today, it seems we have more questions than answers. So add to the speculation and share your thoughts on these announcements.