How Your Twitter Authority Affects Google's Real-Time Search Results

Pamela Vaughan
Pamela Vaughan



About a month ago, we examined what Google's real-time streaming search means for us marketing folks , stressing the increased importance of regularly producing remarkable content and the need to keep your website updated and fresh.

Since Google rolled out the new feature, there has been a lot of chatter about the good , the bad and the ugly .  And while Google's real-time streams feature results from a variety of sources (news headlines, blogs, feeds from social sites like Twitter, etc.), there has been quite a focus on how Google will sift through all this clutter to deliver quality results, specifically from Twitter, which we all know has its share of spam and low-quality content.

HubSpot Real-Time Search Results

So what are some of the factors Google takes into consideration when determining which tweets will show up in real-time search results?

Factors that Determine a Tweet's Authority

1. Following: One way Google deems your tweet valuable is by the number of followers you have.  Therefore, tweets from a user with 1,000 followers will have more authority than tweets from a user with only 100 followers.  Google also takes into consideration the number of followers the people following you have.  So if you have a lot of followers who themselves don't have large followings, Google won't consider your tweet to have as much authority as one from someone whose followers also have a lot of followers.

2. Reputation: This brings us to the factor of reputation.  In the case of real-time results from Twitter, Google weighs heavily on the reputation of those following you.  To put it in simplest terms, the more followers you have with high authorities, the more likely Google will see you as an authority yourself.  So if someone like @GuyKawasaki (who has 205,000+ followers) is following you, your tweets will have more power.

* Note: These first two factors are similar to one way Google determines a Web page's search ranking , based on the idea of recommendations, where if a high-quality pages links to another page on the Web, the quality of the linked-to page increases.

3. Hashtags: It may be time to rethink your use of hashtags .  In an effort to reduce the likelihood of spammy content showing up in real-time results, Google says it will try to avoid showing tweets that include hashtags, as hashtags are known to attract spammy tweets.  However, this may not be a death sentence for hashtags altogether.  As is apparent from our screen shot above, it doesn't look like Google is elminiating all tweets containing hashtags.  Hashtag use might be something to think about, but before we jump to any conclusions, it looks like we may need more concrete data from Google on how hashtags factor into the equation.    

4. Signals: In order to deliver the most timely and topical information in real-time results (especially for common search terms that yield tons of results regularly), Google looks for signals to determine the freshest content.  Google pays attention to news sites, blogs and tweets to determine the latest trending topics related to common search terms.

5. Spam: One of the biggest concerns people have with Google's new real-time feature is regarding spammy results .  However, most of the standards Google is putting in place to determine high-quality tweets are also aimed at eliminating spammy content from showing up in real-time results.  For example, a spammer is less likely to have a large number of followers and is even more unlikely to have followers with authority, which is why Google stresses the importance of following and reputation. 

The Importance of Your Twitter Authority

If you're still trying to understand the value of Twitter for marketing , Google's new standards for delivering quality real-time results from Twitter should give you a nudge in the right direction.

Because Google now weighs heavily on a users' Twitter authority in determining their tweets' worth for real-time results, it becomes even more important for marketers to develop and build authority on Twitter .  Start out by grading your Twitter account to determine your strengths/weaknesses.  Being established as a Twitter power user will give you a leg up in generating more exposure for your tweets and, ultimately, the content you're promoting.  

Spend some time building your following and making your tweets more keyword-rich in order to be picked up in Google's real-time results for the search terms you're looking to show up for.  In a nutshell, use Google's new real-time feature as another opportunity to use Twitter to get found!


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