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I will preface this content by saying this is a very brief overview of how Google crawls and indexes social media posts. If you want much more in depth research and the nuts and bolts of search I would suggest following Bill Slawski and reading his blog SEO by the Sea. I will do my best to put the process in which Google crawls and indexes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ posts into layman’s terms. Hopefully even brand new website owners and bloggers will be able to better understand what is happening behind the scenes in Google search.
Crawling and Indexing of Social Media Posts
The Google spider crawls around the web 24/7 looking for fresh content to crawl and index. For the most part, a social media post is considered a unique new website. If there is a URL for that Tweet, Google+ post or Facebook page it is considered an individual website. By clicking the timestamp on most social media posts you will see a URL that looks sometime like this:
All of Boston asked to shelter in place.
— John Carney (@carney) April 19, 2013
This is what Google absolutely loves as Google is in the business of indexing content and ranking the most relevant at the top of Google search. In the eyes of Google, the more new websites the better. I think we can safely say that Google has crawled and indexed so many individual websites that it would be very difficult for a new search engine to catch up. The gap continues to grow as more content is produced every single day. As more social media content is created Google is a major beneficiary. Here is a real life scenario.
A lifelong goal of a marathon runner might be to complete 50 marathons. By the age 40 marathon runner A has successfully completed 35 marathons. This runner has worked very hard to build endurance and compete at the highest level. To reach that lifelong goal this runner will only need to run 15 marathons post 40. Let us say that runner B has the same goal but is just getting started with running by age 40. Runner B just completed their first marathon last week and they are excited about competing again.
By stepping back and looking at the big picture it is quite obvious that runner A is well on their way to reaching this goal. Runner B is just getting started. When starting so late it life it is going to be very difficult to fight those aches and pains. This is exactly the way I look at Search. Google was first to the game and they have built a very strong foundation. Not only have they completed the foundation but they have one of the most beautiful homes on the water.
History of Google Indexing Social Media Posts
On December 7th, 2009 Google real time search went live. If you were in Internet marketing or SEO you likely remember the “latest results for” box showing up for timely search phrases. Most of the time this box only showed up for news events or a trending topics on Twitter or Facebook. This was a very useful tool for Google search users as they could get live updates when something was happening. Google struggles to index real time events quickly enough. A perfect example is sports scores. If I search Duke vs UNC at halftime of the basketball game I will get a game preview from a local newspaper from earlier in the day ranking in Google search. I likely will not get the up to the second score.
The Google real time search was possible because of contracts with social media websites. On July 2nd, 2011 the contract with Twitter expired and real time search went offline. Ironically, this is about the same time Google opened Google+ through invitation only. Lets just say that Google saw the writing on the wall very early in the process. Real time search is meaningful and Google wanted that real time data for live events going on throughout the world.
Google+ is Different Than Facebook and Twitter
I mentioned that the contract ended with Twitter. This means that Google no longer has complete access to crawl and index individual Tweets the way it did during real time search. The same can be said of Facebook. In fact, Facebook is behind an even strong wall as most Google search users will rarely, if ever, see an individuals Facebook post show up near the top of Google search. It happens but not as often as other social media posts.
After doing well over 100 hours of testing I have seen that Google+ posts are crawled and indexed in search immediately. I firmly believe this was their objective back in June and July of 2011 when the real time search went offline. When a major event happens Google wants that data ASAP. With millions of Google+ users updating content they can crawl and index this information very quickly; almost real time. This is one of the main reasons I embraced Google+ and have worked very hard to build a following.
Let me be perfectly clear. You cannot create a Google+ profile on Thursday and expect to rank on the front page of Google search for specific keywords by Saturday. It simply does not work that way. If you are willing to build authority in a specific subject over time you will see tremendous results. If this is exciting to an Internet marketer or small business I am not sure what is.