How Twitter Works To Impact Search Results

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Twitter is incredible for so many reasons. For some, Twitter is a platform for promotion. For others, it’s a market research tool. The great thing about Twitter is you can use it however you want.

However, what many businesses don’t address is the impact Twitter can have on search results.  Learning how to share and format your content on Twitter can directly impact your organic search results.

In this article I’ll review how Twitter works to impact search results.

Twitter and Search’s Unexpected Marriage

According to a study on social media growth, the goal of social media is to identify and attract new customers. Many marketers don’t plan on using social channels like Twitter to influence their search rankings, it just happens to be an added benefit.

Many simply plan to get a bit more traffic, but if we learn how things like anchor text and URL shortened links play in to search results, we may be able to optimize our ability to draw users from both social and search.

According to study done by SEOMoz, social is shockingly well correlated to search engine results. More than 80% of people surveyed believe that in the future social signals will influence rankings at both a domain level and page level.

It only makes sense for search engines to incorporate a human element in their results. Traditional SEO tactics garnered spammy and low quality search results. From a search perspective ranking domains and pages, based on what people are talking about, makes results much more relevant and timely.

Your Authority Matters

It seems who you are on Twitter plays into how much search “juice” you get. If you have 100,000 followers actively retweeting and responding to your tweets, you are looked at as an “expert,” in search algorithms. If you are familiar with how domain authority impacts search results, it seems to be the same process, in which your Twitter power impacts authority.

The chart below illustrates the same study done by SEOMoz. The study surveyed 132 SEO experts, as they ranked their most important to least important social media factors 1-10. According to the survey “Authority of Tweets” and “# of Tweets,” were the most influential social media factors that played in these SEO expert’s search results.

social media influence

Caption: SEO Expert survey: On a scale from 1-10, how important are social media factors in search rankings? 1 being most important and 10 being least.

“We do look at the social authority of a user. We look at how many people you follow, how many follow you, and this can add a little weight to a listing in regular search results. It carries much more weight in Bing Social Search, where tweets from more authoritative people will flow to the top when best match relevancy is used.” –Bing via Search Engine Land.

Building Links On Twitter

A topic that many SEO experts are “up in the air” on is Twitter’s power to replicate consistently replicate link building’s benefits. Although Twitter links are “nofollowed,” the importance of the link depends strictly on the number of tweets and retweets that are aggregated on websites. A good deal of websites put their Twitter feeds on to their webpage, which means that every time your content is retweeted by them it builds links. If this conclusion is valid, one could assume that link authority can be transferred to retweeted links. For example; The Retweetist is just one of many sites that aggregate Retweets and follow links.

building links on twitter

Caption:  Blue highlight illustrates a DoFollowed link

Real Results

There have been numerous case studies where a tweeted link that goes “viral” gets redirected around Twitter, and the host site ends up ranking for anchor text keywords within the article.

Take for instance Marcus Taylor’s case study on SEOptimise. Marcus set up a brand new domain, “” and began ranking for search terms within hours of sharing content on social channels. One of the most surprising things within the study is that he did no on-site SEO at all to his site. A summary of Marcus’ social experiment was after:

  • He received 40 Facebook Likes for his domain – Google indexes “”
  • He received 110 Facebook Likes and 1 Tweet – He began ranking for the term “yoga mat compare.”
  • After 117 Facebook Likes and 4 retweets- He began ranking on the first page for the term “yoga mat compare.”
  • After 118 Facebook Likes, 4 retweets and 1 link shared on Yoga related sites- he began ranking for “luxury yoga mats.”

Marcus Taylor concluded after his study that, “you can see a progressive increase in not only rankings but the variety of keywords ranking…if I were to carry on acquiring more and more likes and tweets I could potentially attain competitive rankings for these keywords.”

So it seems that collective tweets that are retweeted, pass on link juice by being disseminated across the web on website Twitter feeds. Marcus Taylor questions, “How does this affect SEO? Right this moment I think it’s safe to assume that acquiring likes, tweets and other social signals is a fairly good strategy for not only improving indexation but also rankings.”

Ultimately, establishing Twitter authority improves long term organic search relevance for your site when you share content. Make sure your content’s keywords text is optimized because it seems this is taken to consideration when ranking on search, giving your website traditional SEO benefit from social behaviors.


Caption: Perfect Market’s tweet, recapping the Search Marketing Expo

What This Means For You

Establishing thought leadership on Twitter is important. Easier said than done right? We know that Twitter users are portals for blog promotions; a tweeted link gets power from author authority and retweets. Think of your Twitter account as a pyramid. The higher you are able to drop a link from, the more of the pyramid you will be able to capture; and ultimately the more retweets from authoritative twitter-ers.

To find author authority, gives a list of “experts” when they index search. The goal is to find a niche within Twitter that gets your content to fall majestically through Twitter streams. As Google modifies it’s algorithm to incorporate end user relevance, through a hybrid crowd sourced social indexing model; the SEO waters will become cloudier. Social media, especially Twitter, is a powerful tool for marketers to rank for search terms without spending years on link building campaigns. SEO is no longer a systematic labor intensive process of seeking out partnerships. It seems to be a marriage of engagement in social sharing as well as SEO best practices.

How will this impact businesses, will they begin investing more in social instead of SEO? Leave your comments in the box below.

Matt Krautstrunk

Matt Krautstrunk

Matt Krautstrunk is an expert writer on startups and social media. A native of Chicago, he moved to California for a new experience in the... Read Full Bio
Matt Krautstrunk

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  • Matt great info! and Thanks for that but if you look at the latest SMX where Google simply denied that they don’t see Facebook sahres as a ranking signals and SEOmoz also updated the post yesterday on there blog that says that yes Facebook shares didn’t have the direct impact on rankings…

    I cannot say SEOmoz or any one at the SMX is wrong but like the case you mentioned above i also run one test that says Facebook shares didn’t have a huge (as compare to delicious, digg or stumble-upon) but at least have some impact on rankings…(i might share it with people soon!)

    P.S. other then that Twitter is really a powerful tool and it have a direct impact on search results…

    • Harsha

      I agree with what you say. I wouldn’t be surprised if BING considers FB as a signal, but Google will not to do it for anytime in the near future. Yes, twitter will emerge as a signal, I guess no.of followers will be like the new PR. However, bad guys will make a lot of fortune from this.

    • Thanks Moosa, Yes I’m sure we’ve all heard the most used term the past month, “correlation isn’t causation.” I’ve also heard the whole theory of Facebook shares just being signal that a piece content is “quality,” Non of these seem to register with me as much as case studies, but I’d like to see a case study after Panda 2.2

      • It makes sense that Google would start to see likes as another quality signal. Although, as Gez says, the potential for abuse is high so I don’t know if social signals will become a major factor.

        I’d like to see a case study too, it might well prove me wrong. But in the meantime I’ll approach social media as a way to build both brand and relationships with customers.  (And if that leads to a few links, all the better!).

      • You are completely right.. I have also read whole Google panda 2.2 which consider “Google gives weightage to Quality or relevant content”. As same as for Facebook or twitter signals.

  • Google doesn’t say ‘oh look, tweets! This must be awesome.’ Rather, something that is shared by many people on any platform creates positive signals. Twitter is simply a means of content distribution, and the sharing of content there (or anywhere) is a good thing for search engines to see. 

    To be blunt — focusing on links from a single website and attributing ranking success to it is ridiculous. It’s like determining whether the tide is in or out based on the water’s proximity to your beach chair.

  • I found your post really helpful. Thanks for posting such informative content. Keep posting.

  • This is really good info but i have question for you all..
    We gain the traffic through all this social things but what is the conversion rate..
    I mean if 1000 people coming to my site but for no use..
    This is not like useless efforts.. ????

  • There is no doubt that any positive signals form the social sphere are exactly that – positive signals. But I have to assume that the power of Twitter ‘authority’ will swiftly be devalued by the millions of SEO’s and social marketers artificially inflating their networks.

    The problem is, when you are talking about hundreds of thousands of followers – or even just thousands – people are not clicking through to articles, or even reading their Twitter feed. They simply set up Tweetdeck or whatever to filter out the ‘noise’ (most of their contacts) and dutifully tweet and retweet according to their commercial and personal loyalties.

    In the context of internet marketing, Twitter is already no longer a real social network.

    It still has important potential for freedom of speech, citizen journalism and the dissemination of information; but using it for mass evangelism, SEO’s and marketers are just about to kill their latest toy.

  • Anonymous

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  • Vivek Parikh

    It was an amazing article for Social Media Optimization.. I have a very small que here.. How does keywords get ranked in SERP by doing the SMO???

    •  Good question. It seems a lot of it has to do with on page optimization of your content. Look at this article for instance. The title of the article seems to impact search results quite profoundly. For someone typing in “Twitters impact on search” this article ranks #1. I like to plan my blog and article titles for keywords sets that are possible to rank for.

      • Vivek Parikh

        thanks a lot for you response..  if onpage is only the way to get ranked well in SERP then what is the use of Twitter?? I mean i know by doing good onpage will get good rank but my question is what exactly twitter does in this scenario, how it is useful??

      • Vivek Parikh

        Hey matt still i am waiting for you response..

  • Anonymous

    Yeah. you easily build potential links to your sites. But remember to make good community over there and maintain quality because we know that quality content is a only way through which we gets a potential results and also assemble positive effect on sites rankings. So As per the case on FB and Twitter “Quality” is the king of SEO.

  • If this does become a factor and replaces tedious, time consuming link backs then it’s great news. No doubt google will write an algorithm to ignore the social side of things when people start abusing it.

  • I wonder how Digg would compare with Reddit here. Do you have anything on that? Thanks

  • Thanks for posting this useful tip for seo…