Google Indexes Twitter Links

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Twitter test

How to get Indexed by Google in 2009? Just use Twitter. This is no joke. I ran a test on Twitter to find out whether Google indexes Twitter links and surprise, surprise it does.

Of course Google can’t ignore Twitter, the fastest and most common social networking site out there. The problem is Twitter doesn’t want to get its links getting indexed by Google an prevents it by adding the nofollow attribute.

Google, along with other search engines introduced nofollow allegedly to combat spam and later to scare webmasters into submission (either they add nofollow to ads or they get penalized).

Now that’s a problem. They can’t ignore their own rules, can they? Twitter uses nofollow on all links doesn’t it? No, the mobile version which gets indexed as well does not use nofollow. See my profile in the mobile version. Ironically the Google cache version of it does.

Whatever the reasons may be: Google actually indexes Twitter links.

Whether it’s a bug or feature, I don’t know. I can imagine Twitter closing this “loophole” now that “evil SEOs” like me write about it. I’d certainly like to see how Google will justify indexation of Twitter links then. We all know that Google is black hat. They show different content to users than to spiders, especially in countries like China… The Google engineers will surely find a new way of gaming Twitter. As of now webmasters, SEOs and Google shareholders can rejoice: Google officially is tapping into the wisdom of crowds displayed on Twitter.

The Twitter Indexation Test Setup

How did I find out about Google indexing Twitter links? I set up a page on my onreact.com domain solely for the purpose of testing Twitter link indexation. It contained only text. It was a dead end page: No incoming or outgoing links. With one exception: I tweeted the link once and asked my followers to ignore it. Also I favorited it on Twitter.com

I checked a few hours later, a day later, two days later and nothing happened. So I forgot about the test. Now after 3 months I rediscovered my bookmarks and took a quick look in the Google index and what did I find? The test page.

Now at first I suspected some third party Twitter tool to display my link and thus Google indexing. No, as of now there is no other instance of the text on that page than my Twitter stream and the page on onreact.com itself:

Please note that the mobile version was not in the index in spite of my mobile page being even cached by Google.

So the most likely scenario is that Google indexes Twitter links directly from Twitter. Sadly I made one mistake when setting up the test. While adding a server based analytics script to the page to see Google spidering the page I used the wrong path to the analytics tool. So we don’t know when the Google bot actually hit the page. You might want to repeat the test with a better setup to make sure the result is valid.

It seems that there is a substantial delay to indexing links via Twitter.

Maybe sneaky Google doesn’t want to get caught in the act? Remember that Twitter is a Google competitor with its real time search capabilities. I’m quite sure Google is keen on catching up here, using Twitter data directly via the API for instance.

Btw.: Neither Yahoo nor Bing have indexed the page. Thus Yahoo also can’t find any links leading to it.

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