At the end of March, 2009, we started searching Google for particular
keywords and phrases and noted where Twitter accounts appeared in the search
results. What we found was interesting – Google was giving prominent positions
to Twitter accounts. Those findings are detailed in the first installment of
As part of our research, we also decided to set up an
account to track its progress on search results. The account is @ChicagoHotDog
and to date the results are positive, but mixed.
First, we revisit some of our original search terms (in
quotes), three months later:
"Chicago Public Golf" (@chipubgolf) 1,035
followers, 92 updates
This term has vaulted the Twitter account from the top of
page two on Google to the fifth position on page one. This is despite the fact
that the Twitter feed has not been updated in more than five months, and the
website associated with that account – chipubgolf.com – is no longer
accessible. The Twitter account, however, has added more than 500 followers.
Curious. The dead website is four results later.
Yahoo! lists the Twitter account as the first result on page
two, while the website is not within the first five pages.
Bing lists the Twitter account near the bottom of page two
and again, the website is nowhere to be found.
"Daily Career Tips" (@DailyCareerTips) 3,862
followers, 1,734 updates
This Twitter account has disappeared from the first five
pages of Google results where originally it was the first result on page one.
This is despite a very active account and more than 3,800 followers. The
website associated with this account (susanstrayer.com) shows up as the last
result on page one. That listing is a link to a post soliciting subscribers to
Yahoo! has a Twitter account as the top result for
"daily career tips." However, it's a different Twitter account,
@careertips. @DailyCareerTips is the second result on Yahoo!, while
susanstrayer.com first appears as the fifth result on page three.
Bing lists @DailyCareerTips in the first position,
@careertips in spot number two and susanstrayer.com makes its first appearance
as the last result on page three.
"Dallas Pro Sports" (@dallasprosports) 1,390
followers, 1,931 updates
Google lists @DallasProSports at the bottom of page one,
seven results below the corresponding website, dallasprosports.com.
Interestingly, the result immediately below the website listing is a page of
the website titled "Dallas Sports Tweets for 2009-06-18."
Yahoo! lists dallasprosports.com as the first position on
page one and the Twitter account in position number seven.
Bing has the website at the top of the first page, and the
Twitter account in the seventh spot. Expanding on the website listing reveals a
link to the same "Dallas Sports Tweets for 2009-06-18" post.
"Chicago Hot Dog" (@ChicagoHotDog) 764 followers,
This is interesting. @ChicagoHotDog is not listed within the
first five pages of Google results. Several other websites not associated with
the account are, like hotdogchicagostyle.com, viennabeef.com and
chicagodogs.com (a Las Vegas
restaurant, oddly enough.)
Yahoo! does not list @ChicagoHotDog in any of the first five
pages of results.
Bing lists the Twitter account as the last result on page
one – the only listing in the first five pages of any of the big three search
We can draw a few conclusions about Twitter accounts and
their search relevance.
Google seems to be having the most trouble indexing Twitter
accounts. The fact that @chipubgolf is given such prime positioning is curious,
as the account hasn't been updated in five months and the website associated
with it no longer exists. At the same time, @DailyCareerTips has completely
disappeared despite 2,000 more followers, active updating and a corresponding
website. It should be noted, however, that the website does not bear the same
name as the Twitter account. @DallasProSports is important to note because of
the two search results related to Twitter – the account itself and the
website's page listing Twitter updates.
Yahoo! appears to be the most consistent out of the big
three search engines when indexing Twitter accounts.
Bing seems to put the highest emphasis of the big three, if
for no other reason than it was the only search engine to list @ChicagoHotDog
even though there is no existing website associated with the account. In
addition, out of all the Twitter accounts we tested, @ChicagoHotDog has the
least amount of followers and updates, yet is given the same lofty treatment as
the other tested Twitter accounts. It should also be noted that Bing indexes
individual tweets throughout Twitter.
Clearly, Google and Yahoo! consider a corresponding and
linked website imperative to indexing a Twitter account, while Bing seems more
focused on the corresponding search term, and relevance and freshness of
content. @chipubgolf is one of the more interesting results, as it's the least
active account and its website is no longer accessible. Yet, Google and Yahoo!
give the Twitter account the highest rankings of the big three. Google is the
worst offender here, listing both the Twitter account and the dead website highest
within its results. Is Google losing its grip on relevance? If you consider
Twitter a measure of freshness and relevance, it certainly appears that way.
At any rate, all of this demonstrates the importance of
Twitter on search. For website owners, Twitter accounts can bump the
competition – both the account itself and twitter updates within the
corresponding websites' pages. That’s good enough reason to secure a Twitter
account, even if you don't plan on using the service heavily. This will become
even more important once we see the incarnation of a serious Twitter search
In the next and final installment of this series, we'll see
what happens on the search results when a website for "Chicago Hot
Dog" is built. Stay tuned.