Finally Proven: Twitter Does Affect Google Rankings

Finally Proven: Twitter Does Affect Google Rankings image Tweets vs Rankings Graph med 550x330

Anyone who works in the fields of search or social media has known for years that the two are intrinsically linked. But the question of how activity on social channels affects search rankings has perplexed and frustrated many of us.

This question led Branded3 to conduct a rigorous study over the last two months, researching the effect of Twitter activity on Google rankings.

We were well-placed to carry out such a study, thanks to the success of our Twitter-based petition site, Twitition.com. Having amassed over 7.5million digital signatures, all of which were automatically tweeted out, the site provided us with an unprecedented data set that we used to study the rankings of websites that were linked to in tweets.

The study

We took a sample of over 8,500 petitions and established where they ranked for natural search terms relevant to their content. We then assessed the correlation between the rankings and the number of times each petition’s URL had been retweeted.

The findings

Related Resource from B2CWebcast: PR Hacking: How Ideas Spread And What Marketers Need to Know

The results were fascinating, providing us with the following key findings:

• URLs receive a significant rankings boost from Google when they are tweeted and retweeted on Twitter. This boost levels out at around 50 tweets, and little further benefit is gained until social noise reaches around 5,000 tweets

• High volume Twitter activity leads to a fantastic rankings boost, with URLs receiving over 7,500 tweets almost always ranking on the first page of Google.

What does this mean for businesses?

The study gives real weight to marketers looking to further their social media activity, given that there is a tangible, provable SEO benefit to be gained from having links to commercial web pages shared on social media.

There is still work to be done in this area; Google and Twitter are said to be locking horns over the issue of how visible tweeted links should be to search engines, and for how long they remain visible.

While the Branded3 study illustrates a very clear trend, it would be nigh on impossible to establish an absolute causal link between social noise and search rankings, given the plethora of other factors at play around the web.

But the study marks an important first step in building a clear picture of the ever-growing value of social media to marketers and businesses the world over. You can download an illustrated version of the research here.

Discuss This Article

Comments: 3

  • Is the article saying that links that are shared more get more traffic or that Twitter affects SEO.? Also was there any part of the study that did not use just a single site that belonged to the person doing the study.

    I question this study because you get no link value from posting links to Twitter. Ever since they started routing all of their links through their own t.co shortener the layman is not getting direct inbound links from tweets. You are only getting forwarded/redirected links from t.co.

    Can anybody answer these questions? I’d like to be proven wrong.

    • Hi Patrick,

      Thanks for the response with regards to the Tweets vs. Rankings study. I was a part of the team that put the data together for this study.

      To answers your questions:

      The study was set to see if tweets affected SEO rankings, rather than traffic.

      The only website used in this study was Twitition.com which is an entirely Twitter based platform, so we felt it would best fit the study.

      With regards to your concern about getting links from the t.co domain – this is true, however the study related to the number of times a link was tweeted rather than the number of t.co links this generated. The point of the study was to see the effect of tweets rather than links, so the fact they went through a shortener was actually beneficial to the study.

      With a study like this is is very difficult to isolate the effects of the t.co links completely, but since it was only one linking domain, I imagine the effect would be the same across all the URLs we tested.

      The original article is here: http://www.branded3.com/tweets-vs-rankings

      You can also download the data from Google docs if you’re interested in having a look yourself: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AnujnMQ1pNs1dDVRdXVfVVlPSlc1OW9MWWs0MGd6UFE#gid=0

      Feel free to contact us should you have any more questions about the study.

  • Congrats on being the oh I don’t know 400th person to completely fail at proving anything with regards to this. Here is the problem with setting up a study when you don’t actually know what you are talking about:

    Unless you take a new site, shoot a bunch of tweets at it and nothing else for a term thats even minorly competative, you can not establish that tweets cause a rank boost. All you have shown is that shareworthy/linkworthy content that is likely to rank well because of the fact that it is high quality and therefore likely to attract links ALSO tends to get a lot of tweets. Twitter itself is not directly causing a rank boost. Getting the word out about something via twitter (which in turn increases the likelihood that someone who tends to link out will see it and you know.. do so) does help. But thats not tweets = rank. Its more like Quality content = Tweets & Quality content = links. Its the second bit that ranks it. The first bit is a side effect not the cause.

    TL;DR – Correlation != Causation.

    Stuff thats linkworthy is also shareworthy. Big surprise.

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