Tweets In Google Search: 4 Ways Brands Can Increase Visibility

Should you re-examine your strategy to gain more visibility in search engines using Twitter?

By Lisa Williams


Great marketing is about reaching and engaging your audience. That starts with great content. There is no SEO shortcut for getting tweets indexed by Google. Whether your goal is to use Twitter to grow brand reach, grow your audience, manage your reputation, or sell products by getting tweets indexed, that result must be preceded by a long-term investment in brand content and storytelling.

With the news last month that Google will once again have access to the Twitter API (firehose) for faster and more efficient indexing of relevant tweets in search, marketers have been examining how this change may impact organic search and social strategies.

Google and Twitter had a similar deal that began in 2009 and expired. Since that deal lapsed, Google has had to crawl Twitter’s site for tweets, which was slow, was time-consuming, and didn’t allow for the quicker indexing of time-sensitive information.

For Twitter, this new deal with Google gives more exposure and opportunity to market to logged out users.

What The Twitter-Google Deal Means For Your Brand

Should you re-examine your strategy to gain more visibility in search engines using Twitter?

A marketing plan or campaign should never start with tactics. The time honored traditional marketing process of “first goal, then strategies, and then tactics” is more relevant now than ever. Smart brands worry less about getting their tweets indexed and more about the brand strategy that drives that opportunity.

The saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same” applies here. Though Google having access again to Twitter’s firehose of tweets should be considered part of the overall digital marketing strategy, it needs to be driven by brand marketing efforts of a clear content/communications strategy.

The opportunity for tweets to be indexed highlights the continued importance of integrating SEO into brand marketing efforts.

Integration will be more important than ever. If SEO is left out of the process, the technical, relevance, and authority signals that help brand tweets get indexed will be missed. Conversely, if SEO focuses on tweet indexation without brand immersion and access to brand content strategy and assets, their efforts for indexation will be less effective.

Eric Enge, president of Stone Temple Consulting and co-author of “The Art of SEO” did an in-depth study of Google’s indexation of tweets. The analysis, which examined 138,635 tweets, found that Google is currently indexing just 7.4 percent of tweets. That percentage will definitely increase and become more relevant to brands as Google gains full API access.

Is your brand poised to benefit from this organic search and brand reach opportunity? Here are four ways brands can increase visibility.

1. Focus On Strategic, Documented Content Strategies & Methodology

Whether it’s causation or correlation, brands that have a strong content strategy upon which multiple marketing teams align will take the lion’s share of indexed tweets. Tweet indexation also highlights the need to have a strategic, documented content strategy and guidelines for those executing the strategy.

Sometimes that content strategy is so exceptional that it drives multiple channel representation in the search results.

This example from “The Lego Movie” (interesting aside: this piece of brand storytelling never included the word “Lego” in the movie) shows how a strong content strategy drives inclusion of the Twitter profile (note that Google is serving video, local, and social results).

Once a strong content/communications strategy is created, then a channel integration plan becomes the focus. Greater indexation of tweets may tempt brands to push siloed focus on Twitter, but brands doing this well, as in the Lego example, are defining communication strategy first, then the channel.

When documentation, methodology, and processes aren’t in place, an even larger audience beyond just your followers could see a damaging brand tweet when Google indexes that content.

Tweeting in alignment with your goals and brand voice helps keep the brand story relevant. That focus may help your tweets intersect with Google’s goal of providing exceptional search results.

2. Focus On Engagement

The reading, sharing, and linking to of content has been, and will continue to be, the benchmark of great content.

Though the word “engagement” means different things to different marketers, it can be agreed upon that adding images, hashtags, and links make content more engaging. Enge’s study showed that tweets with images, hashtags and links are more likely to be indexed.

3. Focus On Audience Development

Audience development, with a focus on quality rather than just the quantity of followers, should be a dedicated, ongoing effort for brands. Measuring this KPI should also be included when measuring brand value and reach.

People with at least 10,000 Twitter followers generated more than 40 percent of the tweets in Enge’s study. The sharing of and linking to of brand tweets that will signal Google to index tweets will be improved with strong audience development.

With limited organic reach in most social channels, the launch of Twitter’s Partner Audiences last week makes it easier to grow an audience once you understand your target segments.

4. Use Twitter Ads To Amplify Your Efforts

Though the number of tweets indexed by Google may be viewed as an organic search or social metric, paid social media should play a key part in your efforts to grow your Twitter reach.

Brands leverage Twitter ads to achieve many marketing objectives. In the following example, digital marketing software provider BuzzStream used Promoted Tweets with @username targeting to reach people similar to the followers of nine digital marketing influencers. These influencers were either contributors to BuzzStream’s guide, or known for discussing topics covered in the book.

BuzzStream achieved their download objectives and their tweets were also indexed. BuzzStream is just one example of a campaign that requires content strategy and planning.

With more tweets showing in Google search, do you have a strategy to help increase your online visibility?