Google & Twitter Rekindle Old Flame with New Deal

April 8th, 2015 by Search Influence Alumni

Today, I’m going to tell you a love story between two Internet powerhouses. There’s drama, there’s intrigue, and there’s a rekindling of romances. Is it for the money? Is it for the power? That’s for you to decide.

You may have heard that in February, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo announced that Twitter and Google have rekindled a former partnership. Apparently, the two companies have agreed to a deal that would put a real-time feed of tweets from Twitter back into Google’s search result pages at some point in the first half of this year.

In this post, I’ll lay out what we do know about these star-crossed lovers: a little bit of background on the duo’s previous tryst, how this new partnership benefits Google and Twitter individually, and what this means for you (especially if you’re a business owner).

The Skeletons in the Closet

Back in 2009 (or centuries ago in Internet time), when Twitter was a mere three years old, the two companies formed a similar agreement. As that young relationship took off, Google unleashed something it called Real-Time Search, which featured current tweets and other instant information appearing right alongside your searches. Real-Time Search was well on its way to becoming pretty awesome when, suddenly, in 2011, that feature and the relationship met a tumultuous end. Twitter decided not to renew partially due to growing pains and partially because the COO at the time, Ali Rowghani, was into keeping Twitter’s content proprietary to its users. As a result, Google was left to crawl Twitter’s site in order to index tweets, which is clearly a recipe for failure, and thus, the two were left to go their separate ways. Until now.

What’s in it for Google?

When Google was a young, nascent startup, the founders formed a list of the 10 things that comprise the company philosophy. Topping this (pretty tender) list is, “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” If you keep reading, you’ll find that numbers three and four respectively are, “Fast is better than slow,” and “Democracy on the Web works.” The list also includes several items oriented towards the power of and need for information.

With Twitter, Google gets fast, user-focused information. And as that old adage goes, information is power. Or is it knowledge? Regardless, you get the idea. Twitter is powerful: it has facilitated uprisings, coordinated revolutions, encouraged dialogue on important issues, revolutionized protests, and most of all, it’s user-generated. That kind of authority and relevancy is pretty invaluable.

Search Influence Twitter Firehose Image

So, in this partnership, Google gains access to what’s known as the “fire hose” of tweets, which basically means it gets a stream of 9,000 tweets per second, giving it immediate access to whatever is going on in the Twitter-sphere at the time. This kind of power allows Google to provide even more relevant, reliable information to its users.

At this time, it is unclear whether or not Google will be paying for these tweets, though it did last time. If it does pay this time, however, there’s a good chance it won’t be very much, given that Twitter came to Google asking to rekindle this flame. So, who can really blame Google for wanting to try this whole partnership thing again?

What’s in it for Twitter?

In case this wasn’t already clear, I’ll give you a short answer: GLOBAL EXPOSURE. Google is a socialite with connections to everyone, everywhere, and Twitter is just trying to get in on a piece of that sweet pie. If you’re anything like me, you may be thinking, “Well, isn’t Twitter doing just fine on its own? Can’t it be successful without returning to its almighty ex?”

The answer to that, apparently, is…not so much. In 2013, 46 percent of Twitter users visited the site daily. In 2014, that stat dropped down to 36 percent. On top of losing grip on what was once seen as a stalwart user base, Twitter has the smallest market share out of the top five social media sites. Finally, only 19 percent of the U.S. adult population uses Twitter, which seems fine, but that is the lowest amount of all the top five social media platforms. Who knew Twitter was the runt of the social media litter?!

They did. And this is their effort to remedy that. By partnering up with Google again, Twitter gets a marketing cachet like never before. They’ll likely see more signups, more engagement, and higher ad revenue. As Costolo so eloquently put it in a recent earnings call, it’s all about the eyeballs:

“We’ve got the opportunity now to drive a lot of attention to and aggregate eyeballs, if you will, to these logged-out experiences, topics, and events that we plan on delivering on the front page of Twitter. And that’s one of the reasons this makes a lot more sense for us now.”

Though this almost certainly does not mean tweets will magically get favor from the Google gods and outrank other types of content, it does promise lots of rewards for Twitter.

What does this mean for YOU?

Basically, it means you should use Twitter. If you’re a business that works online in any capacity, this will likely be a positive development. Through this agreement, you can expect better, localized SEO results and new advertising benefits every time Google picks up your tweet.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that this also means tweets have a bit more longevity now. There’s a chance that Google will archive relevant tweets, which means they could show up on a search results page six months down the road.

In the same vein, any negative tweets from disgruntled customers have the potential to leave a more enduring imprint on a related Google search. It could be best practice to invest in some kind of social media/Google monitoring service so you can stay up to date on what’s being said. If you opt to respond to a negative Tweet, make sure you remain professional and work to mitigate the issue.

On the other hand, positive feedback from clients on Twitter will also show up on those results pages, meaning the invaluable customer testimonial is making a mean comeback.

What happens now?

Now, we wait. As tweets enter the public domain, it’s hard to say what will happen to the importance of Twitter followers and Google+. If you’re wondering where exactly the tweets will appear, Bloomberg theorizes that they “will start to be visible in Google’s search results as soon as they’re posted.” This leads us to believe they’ll probably show up in a section like the existing Knowledge Graph; however, it’s also possible that they’ll position the feed to the right of the current search results.

Who’s to say where this Internet powerhouse duo will take us next? Share your thoughts, predictions, and questions in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

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