We’ve been tracking Twitter’s integration into the Google search results since 2014, and today I’m publishing the fifth of our studies on the topic. The TL;DR of today’s results is that Google’s indexation of Twitter is at the lowest level ever. Read on for the details!
For reference, here are links to the prior versions of this study:
- November 2016
- July 2015, after Google had integrated the Twitter API firehose into their algorithm
- Feb 2015, after Google and Twitter announced their new deal, but prior to completion of the integration
- July 2014
The Core Data
In this data set, we have 693 users who posted a total of 47,799 tweets. On an aggregated basis, only 5.2% of these tweets are in the Google Index. The following shows the breakout of the indexation through all five editions of the study that we’ve done:
Google's indexation of tweets falls to its lowest level ever.Click To Tweet
This is the lowest we’ve seen in all five of our studies. It’s also interesting to see how quickly tweets get indexed. We’ve shown through the history of the study that tweets are NOT indexed quickly. This surprises most people, as they assume that Google looks at Twitter to capture breaking news, but that proves to not be the case. Here is the history of the percentage of tweets that indexed within seven days:
Only 1.6% of the tweets were indexed within the first seven days! In our five data snapshots of this, we saw lower indexation levels within the first seven days only in February of 2015. Note that this was back before Google and Twitter announced a new API deal.
Wonder why Google doesn’t bother indexing all social posts? See How Social Media Affects SEO
Factors That Impact Twitter Indexation Levels
We also took a look to see how the level of indexation correlated with the user’s follower count. Here is what the data shows:
Study finds that percentage of tweets indexed by Google increases in proportion to the tweeter's follower count.Click To Tweet
I’m in no way suggesting that Google looks specifically at follower count. However, some aspect of the person’s overall authority does matter. That could be the way that people engage with their account (people with more followers tend to get more engagement), rather than follower count, specifically.
That brings up the next question. Do tweets that get more likes (favorites) tend to get indexed more? Let’s take a look:
Study finds tweet engagement affects likelihood the tweet will show in Google search.Click To Tweet
The answer is a clear yes. Tweets with more engagement do get indexed more. This is consistent across all editions of the studies that we’ve done. Could this be a direct consideration in whether or not Google indexes a tweet? It’s a possibility.
Let’s also look at retweets:
As you can see, a higher level of retweets also correlates well with the potential for being indexed, but only up to a point. However, this occurs at a lower level than favorites. This suggests that the number of favorites is a stronger consideration than the number of retweets, possibly because there are many accounts that are just bots auto-retweeting other people’s accounts.
We also pulled data on the potential impact of having a Twitter Verified account. Here is what we saw:
Having a verified Twitter account is highly correlated with having more tweets show in Google search.Click To Tweet
So having a verified account does correlate with higher chances of indexation, but it’s not clear that this is a direct factor. It could just be because people with verified accounts tend to get more engagement with their tweets.
Length of tweet
Last but not least, we also pulled data to see if the length of the tweet was a factor. Note that due to the timing of our data collection, which was as Twitter was rolling out tweets over 140 characters, we excluded tweets over 140 characters from this data. Google did not appear to be indexing those longer tweets during the beginning of the data collection, but started to near the end of it, and that was going to skew the data. Here is what that data showed for tweets up to 140 characters:
As you can see there is basically, no difference today, for tweets under 140 characters.
Wrapping it Up
The main conclusions of this study are:
- Google’s indexation of Twitter is on the decline. At an overall indexation level of 5.2%, it’s at it’s lowest level ever. Note though that 5.2% of all tweets is still a pretty large number of pages!
- Google continues to index tweets in its own sweet time (not rapidly). This provides support to Google’s public statements that they treat social media sites just like any other site.
- The metric that most increases chances of indexation appears to be favorites, and then secondarily retweets.
- Our available data suggests that tweet length matters little to indexation.