SEO lessons: Google drops Twitter

Ian Lurie

Google has let their subscription to the Twitter firehose expire.

That means Twitter’s gone from real-time search, for certain. Actually, it appears real-time search is just gone. I don’t see ‘latest’ any more:

real time gone

I’ve never been a fan of real-time search: As I said in 2009, a real-time stream of poo is still poo.

The bigger news for the SEO world, of course, is this could mean Twitter will be less of a ranking factor in the future.
If you’re a bandwagon-driven internet marketer, and you go diving after the latest gimmick, then you’re probably panicking about now. A little voice in your head is shrieking “OH GOD MY TWITTERZ IS GONE NO MORE RANKINGS FOR MEEEEEEE”.

That’s why you need to change your ways and practice future-proof SEO.

The lesson: Future-proof SEO

I know a lot of folks started spamming Twitter the moment they learned it was a ranking factor. They’re the bandwagon SEOs.
Here’s how bandwagon SEO works: You hear something’s a ranking factor, like links, or Twitter. Then, you spam the crappage out of it, burying Google in an avalanche of worthless links, tweets, etc., and vomiting automated follows and link requests all over the internet. For a while, you see some success, and you get really smug. Those stupid SEO’s, you think. They’re full of crap.

Then, poof. The ranking factor goes away. That foomp sound? That was the air rushing in to replace the rankings your site used to occupy.

Bandwagon SEO leads to tears. On the other hand, future-proof SEO leads to happiness and that sense of one-ness with the interwebs:

If you built your SEO strategy around Twitter and Facebook as outreach tools, a sound link acquisition strategy and best practices site construction with great content as the centerpiece, then you’re fine.
This is the core of future-proof SEO: Do use channels like Twitter and Facebook. Google’s move doesn’t mean you should stop doing so.

You have to treat these tools as fantastic messaging channels. The link-building and audience-building effects are great, of course. But the real power of Twitter is its ability to put you squarely in front of influencers, media and consumers.

Don’t leave Twitter!

Don’t stop using Twitter because of Google’s move. That would be very foolish. Twitter dwarfs Google+ by comparison. It may still be a ranking factor, too—it’d be easy enough for Google to scrape results for data. Or, they may be planning to integrate Twitter feeds into Google+.

Think strategically: Twitter and Facebook are still your best non-search outreach channels. Don’t let them lie.

Other stuff

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. Great advice, Ian — as always, thanks for your insights and suggested “Future-proof SEO” strategies. Recently noted the changes in ‘Real Time’ in Google searches.
    While I definitely agree in your reference to a good bit of it, this is somewhat of a loss I think. Because ‘Real Time’ was the most current updates and information, I found it to be helpful on many occasions.
    I agree with your Bandwagon SEO observation, and certainly if a strategy is employed to affect (sway) search engine rankings, Google would need to change things up a bit to be more accurate and return relevant search results .
    That said, what about the ‘Social Influence’ factoring into search I’ve been hearing about?

  2. SERPs are still showing the “shared by” aspect in each snippet, displaying friends who shared that URL. But, the loss of real-time Twitter is sad. It was especially good for earthquake and other crisis updates.
    As you said, “think strategically.” It’s not all about Google SERPs but about “outreach channels!”

  3. @Dana It’s particularly sobering when you think that most likely Google is making this move to prep for a hard push on Google+. So they’re willing to lop off a big chunk of their corpus to promote their own social media initiatives.
    The “shared by” stuff will hopefully stick around, but I’m not sure how Google keeps that 100% up-to-date across all Twitter users without the firehose. I guess we’ll see.
    Thanks, and see you at MozCon!!!!!

  4. Hey Ian,
    Well , i hve already read the article from “DANNY”. There he clearly said, that Twitter hve stopped serving Google . And there is no way that Google Will integrate twitter special feeds in GOOGLE +,I dont think soo o_0?
    Well, To me Twitter & FB is not a place, where you keep SPamming & you will get higher results. I feel both of them were a good tool, where you can gain a certain set of followers (Traffic) to your site where easily.
    Well to be frank, This article does’nt hve any new info man …

  5. Ian – I’ve always been skeptical about the long term link popularity benefits of Twitter. Sure, it helps get a page indexed, and sometimes seems to provide a short term ranking boost, but even for the short term ranking boost, it is challenging to identify Twitter causation versus correlation. If Twitter not being used by Google as a ranking factor lessens the spam – I say Whoo-Hoo.

  6. As Dana mentioned, one of the great losses while Google Realtime is revamped & expiration of the agreement w/ Twitter are the links to breaking news.
    What I’ve found substantially less useful since the loss is checking the Google Alerts for both my clients and my own business. Many of these alerts were set-up specifically to check mentions & links for keywords & profile names. The absence of these goes beyond just Twitter. It includes sites with which Twitter cross fed Timelines/content. These include Friendfeed, Identi, Plurk, Pixelpipe, etc.
    While I would want to speculate on whether Google would have attributed anything near the boost we received in the SERPs from Twitter to any of these other social media services, that they’re now absent (or at least diminished) from Google Alerts potentially has broader impacts. CRM & online reputation monitoring, etc.
    We’ll have to see what’s reintroduced & how Google+ will be integrated. I was pleased to see the addition of Social Plugin Tracking in Google Analytics .

  7. I believe Twitter will still be a very important Internet marketing channel the next 12 months. However, with the launch of Google + their days are counted.

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