Of Google Indexing the Twitter Firehose and Implications for SEO and Lawyers Who Tweet

I probably won’t be making it to the Chicago Bar Association’s CLE on “How To… Get the Most Out of Twitter” tomorrow. But that’s not to say that I wouldn’t have been choked to miss Catherine Reach’s tweet mentioning it. Mostly that’s because there was something else she linked to which caught my attention: Kevin O’Keefe’s post from last Thursday heralding that “Twitter is teaming up with Google to bring Twitter’s real-time content to Google’s search results.

So there it is. Google and Twitter are getting friendly (once more). And just when you thought Mobilegeddon was over and all of your SEO scrambling was finished for a few months!

Here is an official Twitter announcement.

Oh, how the worm turns. The two tech titans were tight for a time back in the days when Google Real Time Search was a thing—until July 2011 when the partnership went south amidst rumours that the micro-blogging service wanted more control in the context of searches. I suppose the time apart worked to give everyone some perspective. Earlier in 2014 Twitter began testing the relationship once again by giving big search engines a glimpse into the 50,000 most popular hashtag pages. Twitter brass apparently noticed a 10 fold increase in visitors to its website. It must have left them wanting more.

It works (at present) only for searches done in the US, and of those only for mobile web or in the Google app.

Being in Canada, I switched on my VPN (to see the web through the eyes of a Yankee) and opened an incognito tab on my iOS mobile Chrome browser (an app I never use, so I figured I was about as “neutral” as I could easily be).

I can confirm that all the mean things you said about @nrusse on Twitter came right to the top. I also saw how useful the @Slaw_dot_ca retweet bot was.

As Kevin O’Keefe notes, lawyers who have been ignoring Twitter all along now have one less thing to recommend them to Google, while those who started actively some years ago then dropped off, will now look a bit slack when their hollow, disused social media accounts pop up in results.

Another thing this means for lawyers as Google once again starts seeing and indexing everything spewing from Twitter’s “firehose” (rather than just the popular Taylor Swift stuff) is that boring niche content like ours will start to become more visible to the web at large. This means those once relatively obscure eddies of shoptalk might start to be listened in on and start to matter.

Take an example. If I sit down at a conference on privacy (as I did a couple weeks ago) and start hammering away on Twitter about service level agreements, cloud hosting, and encryption of law firm data it’s all the more likely that this network activity — while nowhere near as interesting as #GameOfThrones or #Eurovision — will have a niche impact on those keywords. As tweets get factored into the various things Google looks for when producing query results, companies (or law firms) who paid good money to peg their names higher in the results, will now be seeing competition for client eyeballs. Google’s algorithm will certainly draw stronger edges between keywords and content from social media profiles that have a substantial niche focus (and perhaps strong follower numbers) that reflects relevance to those keywords.

This could also be a warning sign if you dislike noise. Your feeds may soon erupt in autotweets, RSS regurgitations, and thinly veiled marketing, designed to show life, vitality and linkbacks for lawyers and law firms whose Twitter accounts were but derelict husks a month ago. Will anyone be hiring a summer student to run a personal injury law Twitter feed? What other gamesmanship will we see?

If anyone has any other thoughts about this, please leave a comment.



  1. Does this mean that when I do a search on Google, the results page are going to be swamped with everybody’s tweets on something like the topic? This is not good news. I suspect the noise-to-signal ratio is huge. It would be a mercy if Google allowed us to choose whether to include tweets – a Twitter filter.

    Otherwise I can see changing search engines. If I want to know what Twitter thinks, I can search Twitter. I have not needed to do so yet, but I have been given good examples of why I might want to some day.

  2. Hi John, I’m of mixed opinion because I see your point. But it appears now to be working on my desktop and within the Canadian side of Google Search.
    Actually, I’ve already found a couple things from Twitter which helped me and it made me glad Twitter content was being unified into Google. A couple of research items I’m working on will already have benefited from this unification of search (and I don’t really like having to search just on Twitter).