Twitter leads as social networks enter the search game

Twitter recently announced that it has changed its title tags for profiles, making a big impact on how high these pages are ranked in search engines.

The news can be either good or bad, depending on who you are! For those who want visibility, it will be a blessing. Others are going to have to adapt.

If you tweet for informational purposes then the changes couldn’t be better. But if you tweet about your mother-in-law’s annoying habits or why your colleagues could give David Brent a run for their money, then you’d better wise up to increased search engine exposure.

Let’s take a look at the changes, using the US President as an example. I used the Wayback Machine to view his profile, as it appeared in 2007. Take a look at the title tag in my browser.

2007 Format: Twitter / Username

 

In contrast, today’s format looks like this: Full name (username) on Twitter

 

Small change – big results!
So, what can you expect when you search for someone’s personal name?

If they have an online presence, you would usually see their profiles on social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and My Space amid Google’s first two results pages. With the recent changes, however, you’re likely to see a person’s Twitter page rank highest of all.

It makes me wonder what Twitter will do next, as I’m certain we will see a few more changes made to benefit search.

Interestingly Google has also undertaken a Pagerank update that has slashed the ranking of many Twitter pages. Twitter itself has risen from rank 8 to 9, but most profiles have dropped – from 8 to 6, from 7 to 4 and so on.

Staying on the same topic, Facebook announced yesterday that it is also changing its link structure. The site plans to use the usernames as the URL extension instead of the current, randomly assigned number.

For example:

Facebook has posted:

We’re planning to offer Facebook usernames to make it easier for people to find and connect with you. When your friends, family members or co-workers visit your profile or Pages on Facebook, they will be able to enter your username as part of the URL in their browser. This way people will have an easy-to-remember way to find you. We expect to offer even more ways to use your Facebook username in the future.

Is this recognition that Twitter is one step ahead of the game, having already propelled ‘Tweeters’ to higher search rankings than MySpace and Facebook profiles?

Either way, it’s safe to say that the changes are going to have a big impact, just as the Twitter changes did. And from my point of view, it’s great that these social sites are finally becoming more search friendly.