The digital world is a-blazing following the announcement of a new and improved partnership between Google and Twitter. This alliance is going to take the impact of real-time marketing to a whole new level, as relevant tweets will begin to display in Google search results within moments of being posted. The rollout is expected to take place over the next few months, but no specific launch date has been announced. What we do know is that the importance of integrating SEO and social media efforts is going to be more important than ever.
This isn’t the first time that Twitter and Google “got together,” if you will. Their last official partnership ended in 2011 for undisclosed reasons, but tweets still show up in relevant searches from time-to-time. The issue is that up until this point, Google hasn’t had the ability to share these tweets in real-time; it’s a manual process of scrolling through Twitter’s feed for relevant results. So by the time they are able to find tweets they want for their search results, they’re likely too late to the party and searchers seek out another link in the results. Luckily, this tedious, manual process is about to change.
According to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, this new partnership will give Google full access to Twitter’s stream of nearly 6,000 tweets per minute, as they already do with search engines like Bing. This change will allow for more real-time marketing on Google’s part, which brands have shown to be an essential part of a digital marketing strategy. Whether companies are live-tweeting major events or announcing a new product line, these types of messages aren’t as exciting hours or days after being posted. Giving Google access to the live stream will allow tweets to display in search results instantly.
Google is quick to point out that tweets will not take precedence in search rankings unless they are the best match for the search, and that the algorithms in place will still apply. Tweets will rank in the same manner as links to any other webpages, based on content relevance and keywords.
So what does this partnership mean for your marketing team? Here are four important things to know:
Website SEO strategies will apply to tweets
Just like your webpages, not every tweet will show up in search results. Google does and will continue to emphasize quality content, so if your tweets don’t contain the specific content being searched for or is spammy, it won’t be shown.
As you use your strongest ranking keywords throughout your website, you will also want to use them in your tweets. Creating an integrated strategy between SEO and social media will provide for a cohesive user experience across channels, while also strengthening top keywords and content subjects. As always, don’t overload with keywords with the hopes of ranking well because Google will very quickly shut that down.
Treat your tweets like ads
Even if you aren’t buying ads on Twitter, every tweet you post moving forward should be treated like one. Twitter is expected to see a growth in organic reach, so you should include a call-to-action or link in most or all of your tweets so readers are encouraged to take a specific action. Simple branded tweets are not effective alone; you need a balance of branding and calls-to-action.
Having an advertising mentality is important; think of all the searchers who don’t engage with you on Twitter. They may not know what your company does or why they should give you a second of their precious time, so you need to grab their attention and make it clear what you have to offer.
A word of warning: you don’t want to get completely consumed in the sales mentality because you could turn off those who do loyally follow you on Twitter. Your followers are looking for a combination of promotional and branded tweets, so don’t overwhelm them by being strictly sales-focused. A challenge to social media marketers will be to find a way to communicate effectively to both devoted followers and complete strangers. Creating a healthy mix of content that will rank well in search while engaging those that already know what you’re about is essential, and certainly not easy.
Monitor Twitter engagement closely
The bright side is that your company has the ability to be more visible through Google. The downside is that anything your followers say about you could get more exposure. If you don’t already, be sure to monitor any comments said about you on Twitter because Google won’t filter out negativity directed towards your brand. Their algorithms focus strictly on keywords and content, so if someone is bashing your brand and a search is done that’s related to what they’re talking about, their rant might just show up in the results. And that’s definitely not the type of publicity you’re looking for.
Every company is going to experience its share of negativity on social media; it happens. And that’s ok! But it’s how you respond to it that will make all the difference. If you see a positive or negative comment, just address it. Whether you’re saying “thank you” or you’re trying to fix a serious problem, your audience is going to appreciate how responsive you are. If a searcher clicks on a link to a tweet complaining about your company, they will see that you chose to respond and maybe not take that negative feedback to heart.
Another important thing to consider is that your tweets are no longer going to be fleeting thoughts that quickly disappear into the Twitterverse. Tweets from months ago that are relevant to a search today could very well show up. This is just another reminder that you should think through every message you put online because your image in the digital world is long-lasting. But if you think before you tweet, you should have nothing to worry about.
Earned media will increase
Earned media is “any publicity you haven’t paid for that’s owned and created by a third party.” That includes a wide variety of unpaid media recognition, from tweets that get retweeted or reviews that are written to traditional features in a newspaper or magazine. This is valuable to a marketing strategy because it plays a role throughout the buyer’s journey, from brand awareness to deciding to purchase to being a future brand advocate. And you’re not paying for it (how great is that?!).
Since some of your tweets are likely to end up in Google search results, it is expected that retweets, favorites, and number of followers will increase due to greater visibility. Knowing that your exposure on social media is likely to increase, make sure your website is ready for potentially more traffic. You would hate to generate interest on Twitter and attract consumers to your website to have them turned off to your content or design. Everything should be updated and user-friendly to maximize the likelihood of future conversions.
There’s no doubt that this partnership is going to have quite the impact on marketing strategies moving forward. If your search and social teams haven’t worked together before, they will now. In regards to real-time marketing, there will be an even greater benefit because consumers won’t necessarily have to follow a company on Twitter to see their updates. When they are searching for a specific subject matter in Google, there’s a good chance that some tweets will show up. This opens brands up to a much larger audience than before, and hopefully will help them gain a greater following in the process.
There’s a lot at stake here for Twitter as well. They are facing quite the challenge of retaining active users because real-time marketing has become so prevalent. People don’t necessarily need to login to Twitter to get their news in a timely fashion; there are already so many search and media outlets sharing relevant tweets and hashtags. This trend could continue with their partnership with Google, and Twitter will need to find new, creative ways to keep a strong following. The hope is that featuring more tweets in search results will bring people over to Twitter and get them to stay a while by finding other information of interest. Challenge accepted? I think so!
This new-and-improved partnership is certainly going to leave its mark on marketing, search, and social media, so it will be interesting to see how each player fares in the long run.