Forget Indexing Tweets: Google Is Pulling Them Directly from the API
When Google rolled out with Caffeine last year, the idea was to speed up the way that the search engine was able to index pages, particularly for use in real-time social media searches. Apparently, that wasn’t fast enough, so they’re going straight to the source.
Tim Cohn first noticed that Google was displaying the last Tweet from particular accounts in their search results. Search Engine Land then tested it and found that Google was popping up the last Tweet almost instantaneously and that the last Tweet would disappear after a certain period of time if the account wasn’t updated.
We just ran a test of our own (above). I tweeted, then immediately refreshed the Google search result as quickly as I could. As you can see, it registered the Tweet immediately, showing “2 seconds ago.” No standard indexing technology could work that quickly. Google has tied their search results directly into the Twitter API (something they’ve done for a while with their “Realtime” search feature).
Most tweets are eventually indexed – some within minutes, some within hours or even days. These Tweets are being presented in their raw form prior to being indexed. The Tweets themselves are not being used in search results through this new method. They will be indexed separately and can then appear in searches as their own listings, but this is different. Just as with Google’s “Realtime” search, this feature is a firehose.
When Tweets (or any other pages) are “indexed,” they have been read, understood, and classified based upon their content, the history of the domain, and links coming into the page (among other factors). Once they’re indexed, they can appear in search results as stand-alone listings. This is a direct feed regardless of content filtered by removing any that start with an @reply.
What does this mean? Not much. It’s a cool feature, but it’s just an addition to what they’ve already been saying for a couple of years (and proclaiming more openly in December) about how social signals are playing a roll in their algorithm.
The other minor (but cool) change is that links within Tweets are maintained, including hashtags. Since @replies are not being included, apparently Google is looking for the latest news and statements on Twitter but they’re not interested in conversations between users.