Get ready for your tweets to be a more important part of your overall marketing and SEO puzzle, Google has announced today that real-time tweets, which have been appearing in mobile search results for the last few months, are now showing in desktop result too.
This is a big step - we wrote recently about the potential wider impacts and value of tweets in search when they come to desktop, for one, because the majority of search activity is still conducted via desktop (though mobile is rising). Your desktop search screen also has more room to highlight relevant tweet results, so you're more likely to see tweets showing up when you're using Google on your PC.
The second reason? When tweets are appearing more prominently in search results, they will influence customer behavior. For instance, if a customer goes searching for your business and this tweet showed up in the search results:
Do not stay at the Mount Olympus Resort in the Dells.. #BedBugCentral- Christina Hanson (@christinaaa39) August 11, 2015
That would likely be a decision changer, right?
At present, most of the results showing up are from the official Twitter accounts of the brands - a search for McDonald's, for instance, includes the latest tweets from @McDonalds down amongst the search results:
That's no big deal, and it doesn't add a heap to the user experience for the searcher. But some queries do highlight tweets in different ways - searches for certain hashtags (as in the first example above) highlight the relevant Twitter results at the top of the search listings. A search for a trending topic also uncovers more specific, and current, tweets relevant to that search term.
This puts more onus on brands to ensure they're aware of the Twitter conversations that are occurring around their keywords and search terms - while there may not be a heap you can do about it if you're in the midst of a crisis, there may be trending topics that are related to your target terms which could impact on your click-throughs - in the case of Banksy's new "Dismaland" exhibition above, some results for that are showing up in searches for "Disneyland", which no doubt Disney would want to know about.
The key element to keep in mind when considering which tweets are going to show up is how Google is using real-time tweets to build better context around search queries. Google wants to deliver the best, most relevant results to users, and will only want to use tweets to better inform and add relevant context to queries. In that sense, it's logical the way tweets are being presented in search results at present - if there's no trending topic, you get tweets from the brand's Twitter handle. However, if there is a trending tweet, or tweets (and how Google determines 'trending' is an aspect we don't have access to) the chances of that tweet adding search context are pretty high, so that tweet (or those tweets) will also likely be included.
In a study by Stone Temple Consulting on what tweets Google has been showing in mobile search results since the announcement of the new Twitter deal, they found that Google was using social authority as a determining factor in which tweets were being shown in search results - social authority, in this context, being more than just follower count, with tweet engagement levels also being factored in. This means that if a celebrity happens to say something about your brand - good or bad - it's likely that will show up. It also means that mentions from people with comparatively high Klout scores (agree with their measurements or not) may also play a part.
Another consideration to keep in mind is that the Google/Twitter arrangement is evolving. Right now, this is only the first stage of the partnership, and Google will be making note of all the data, all the click-throughs they see on tweet results in search and what users are responding to. If they find that tweets are not adding a heap of context for searchers, they'll change it. In this sense, I suspect that showing users tweets from official brand handles may not add a heap to search context - but real-time tweets about that brand or search term would. If a change like that came into effect, that would be significant, and would make brand awareness about their associated Twitter conversations a critical aspect of their SEO and marketing efforts. At present, this doesn't appear to be the case for the majority of search results - but in terms of adding search context, such an addition would make sense. Watch this space.