Digital Marketing

Why Doesn’t Google Index All of Twitter? – Here’s Why with Mark & Eric

Now that Google has full, real-time access to all of Twitter, they must be indexing every tweet in Google search, right? Wrong!
In this video see the results of the Perficient Digital study that looked on Google for 133,000 tweets from over 900 Twitter users. We gathered data on the level of indexation of tweets from those accounts in February 2015 (before the Google-Twitter deal) and again in June 2015 (after Google began to implement the new tweet access).
Mark and Eric explain why, even though Google now has full “firehose” access to Twitter, it still doesn’t even come close to indexing every tweet in its search engine.

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Full Transcript:

Mark: Google now has access to every tweet in real time, so that means every tweet can be found in Google’s search results now, right? Wrong! In fact, a study we did at Perficient Digital shows that while after Google started implementing their new firehose deal with Twitter they also began indexing many more tweets, they aren’t even coming close to getting all of them. In this episode of Here’s Why, I’ll have Perficient Digital’s Eric Enge share our study results, and ask him why Google still isn’t indexing all of Twitter.
Mark: Eric, tell us about the study you conducted to see how much of Twitter is indexed by Google.
Eric: Sure thing, Mark. First, to capture how much of a change Google’s implementation of its firehose access to tweets in real time brought, we’d need good before and after snapshots. Fortunately, we had captured a really good picture of Google’s indexation of Twitter in February of 2015. At that time we pulled data on over 133,000 tweets and then looked for those tweets on Google. We found that only just over 0.6% of tweets showed up in Google’s search results within the first 7 days, and 7.2% within 7 weeks.
That means almost 93% of the tweets in our test set never showed up in search! In addition, most of these took more than a week to get indexed. Then in late May Google announced that they were beginning to make use of their new deal with Twitter and start showing more tweets in search results. So in June, we took a second snapshot. For a good comparison, we looked for the same data set of tweets in our June scan. This time we found that 3.4% of the tweets were indexed within 7 days, a whopping 466% increase over February. But of course, 3.4% is a tiny minority of all the tweets.
Mark: So now that Google has access to all of Twitter in real time, why aren’t they indexing 100% of the tweets?
Eric: There are at least a couple of probable reasons. First, keep in mind that we’re still in the very early days of this implementation. Google is probably testing a lot of things to see how to bring tweets into search in a way that’s most useful to searchers. I expect that they will continue experimenting and that we will see a lot of changes in the time ahead. Here at Perficient Digital, we’ll rerun this study periodically to track and report how Google’s Twitter indexation changes over time.
Mark: If you want to be first to know about those updates, and all of our social media, SEO, and content marketing studies, sign up for our newsletter at the link on your screen. Eric, you said you had a couple of possible reasons Google still isn’t indexing all of Twitter. What’s the other one?
Eric: What we’re seeing, Mark, is actually a good reminder that as huge as Google is, they don’t actually have unlimited resources. Even though their computing and storage capacities are probably the largest ever known, they still have limitations. So they have to make decisions about how and for what to allocate those resources. And then think about Twitter. Every second Twitter users create 6000 tweets. That’s 350,000 tweets per minute or 500 million tweets per day.
At that rate, even Google’s computing resources would get quickly overrun. So Google has to be selective, using algorithms that prioritize which tweets and Twitter users should get the most attention. In fact, in our study data, we found a strong correlation between the social authority of a Twitter profile and how likely its tweets were to show up in Google search. Higher authority profiles get indexed more, although I’m sure there is more to Google’s criteria than just profile authority.
Mark: Thanks Eric. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning some of the “why” behind this quickly evolving search and social media story. You can see our other Here’s Why videos on our Here’s Why page at the link on your screen. On that page you’ll also find a link to our YouTube channel where you can subscribe to this video series so you’ll never miss another episode of Here’s Why. Thanks for watching!

About the Author

Eric Enge leads the Digital Marketing practice for Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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Thoughts on “Why Doesn’t Google Index All of Twitter? – Here’s Why with Mark & Eric”

  1. Is Twitter replacing Google+? Which backlink is more important? A Twitter-Backlink or a Google Plus Backlink? Which interaction are expected when I share the same content to Twitter and to Google Plus? Has anybody seen an indexed Twitter-feet next to a Google-post with same content?

  2. No danger of Twitter replacing Google+. Google will not do anything to use social signals simply because they can’t depend on continued access to those signals. A social media site could demand massive money for continued access.
    Neither backlink helps SEO, they are all NoFollow.

  3. I’m not sure partnership with twitter is about using search engine to find tweets but to show twitter account from VIP like it does if you are searching about john mueller.
    Google can index tweets and it don’t matter who you are, and it’s not intend to produce backlink at all, it’s just informative.
    As an example i’ve published a tweet :
    David Bowie is dead. It was on twitter news and now in google. Good singer and actor #DavidBowie #Tesla #cancer #TweetMagic
    I’m not really influent with my only 1560 french followers (oh now 10 gone away)
    Ok, now you can google
    david bowie is dead twitter testla
    Enjoy

  4. jessyseonoob’s comment is instructional. It suggests to me that it is pretty easy to get your tweet “indexed by Google”. At least it is for @Jessyseonoob!
    Thank you for the “here’s why” on why Google doesn’t index all of Twitter. I agree, half a billion extra URLs a day is not insignificant to index and analyse – even when they are arriving by firehuse instead of having to crawl them – but it does suggest that the next test should be to understand how Jessy crafted the tweet to confound the stidy? Was the influence of Jessy is an important factor? Jessy’s twitter profile has a Trust Flow of 19. So People link to Jessy. Jessy is a credible entity. Maybe Jessy’s tweets are worth indexing? Or maybe it was just because of the hashtags and we are in the realms of the equivalent of Keyword Stuffing in hashtags, (for those that remember those days of the keyword metatag).
    Perhaps the next test should be: Is it the Tweet or the Tweeter that gets a Tweet indexed? You are welcome to use our 2015 list of the top 50,000 most influential people on Twitter to benchmark your next test (h**p://labs.majestic.com/2015/social-explorer) if you can find a list of a bunch of less influential Twitter profiles to compare against.

  5. Dixon – more than happy to discuss. Our data considered many factors, including user authority, and high authority people get indexed much more. We also looked at whether or not the tweet included links, mentions, hashtags, URLs in the tweet, as well as whether or not the tweet received links. The biggest factors were authority and inbound links to the tweet.
    Regarding jessyenoob, bear in mind, we have a sample size of one there. It’s an interesting data point, but limited in scope.
    Would love to talk to you about your Twitter influencers list and work with that if you are up for it!

  6. Arjun – A tweet, as Mark says, is simply a tweet, i.e. by definition they’re short. But, content quality is also a matter of context. On Twitter, some tweete have enough value to index. But, as our study shows, most of them are not worth indexing, because given their length the content needs to be exceptional given that there are so few characters to work with.

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