SERPs, Twitter and Chicago Hot Dogs
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 this series.
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 @DailyCareerTips.
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, 69 updates
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 engines.
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 tool.
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.