Twitter Tweets You Hear Might Be An Echo

In recently published research, Stone Temple Consulting details how Google indexes Twitter tweets in search results and the likelihood that those tweets would surface in query results.

The study reveals that Google does not index a significant percentage of tweets. The tweets it indexes are "highly biased" to people who have 1 million followers or more, and even for those accounts with "high authority," indexing takes time -- sometimes a great deal of time.

Stone Temple found less than 1.5 billion Twitter pages indexed in Google in two queries, although the social site reported back in October 2013 that it processed about 500 million tweets daily, per its Initial Public Offering (IPO) filing.

Eric Enge, CEO of Stone Temple Consulting, wanted to break down the numbers even more. Using advanced search query operations, he ran several tests that suggest the indexing rate of tweets is very low. And retweets only make up about 1.4% of the total number of tweets based on Dan Zarrella's analysis of 5 million tweets and unidentified retweets.

Enge also analyzes post indexes for 963 different Twitter accounts. He and his team used the Twitter and Google APIs to pull the last 20 tweets from each of these accounts and track their indexation levels several ways. The follower numbers of the accounts included in the study were broken into several categories:

More than 5 million followers -- 26 accounts
3 million to 5 million followers – 9 accounts
1 million to 5 million followers -- 23 accounts
500,000 to 1 million followers -- 20 accounts
100,000 to 500,000 followers -- 71 accounts
10,000 to 100,000 followers -- 199 accounts

The findings might surprise marketers. During the research there were 10,453 tweets within the last seven days, and 326 of them were indexed, for an indexation level of 3.12% -- pretty consistent with the first part of our study. And then the team looked at indexation levels for tweets more than one week old.

There were 19,389 total tweets checked, with 701 of them being indexed, for an indexation level of 3.62%, Enge wrote. "Total indexation in our data peaked at about week four," he explains. "Given the depth of our data, I’d conclude that indexation of tweets increases over time and peaks between two and four weeks, and then it starts to decline after that. It may not be as low as the 0.1 percent levels we saw with the site: query tests we did, but at best it's a small percentage of total tweets."

Marketers can access additional details from the findings here.

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