In an effort to share the most relevant results to searchers, Google continues to evolve both its algorithm as well as establish partnerships to keep visitors using the platform. It is both an exciting and challenging time for Google, whose lifeblood rests in its online advertising model and dependence on keeping users coming back. For the first time since 2009, Google is now losing marketshare of the search market to other giants like Yahoo and has recently been seeking more creative ways to provide the information people want. While the specifics have yet to be disclosed, the Google Twitter partnership is one of those efforts that is highly representative of the increasingly blurry lines between social and search and will likely have significant implications on search results.
Google and Twitter have reached an agreement that will give Google access to its data feed – which will make it easier for 140-character tweets to appear in the search engine results page. This means that tweets will appear faster and more prominently in the search engine results, which will ultimately drive more search traffic to Twitter instead of to websites. Historically, Google needed to crawl Twitter like any other website to obtain content, but this new arrangement will allow tweets to show up in real time. This will significantly increase the visibility of conversations happening on Twitter.
What does this mean for colleges, universities, and business schools?
When a prospect searches for your business school, they are likely going to see your business school tweets featured prominently in the results. It is also likely that prospects will see what other prospects and others are saying about your institution. This significantly increases the importance of leveraging social media in your institution’s recruiting efforts. It is also an opportunity for institutions to define and share what differentiates their institutions. This past fall, the incredibly popular, yet controversial #WhyMBA Twitter campaign which BusinessWeek ran to promote their new business school rankings did one thing very well – it brought out the best in business schools.
The Top 5 Business Schools on Twitter were those who did something truly unique and were able to showcase the distinct attributes of both their culture and their programs. The digital space is becoming increasingly competitive and full of noise. It is no longer sufficient to get the attention of a prospect – you have to tell them something distinctive and of value. This is the only way they will pay attention.
Unfortunately after the campaign, most business schools went back to the status quo. But what the new Google Twitter partnership means is that the status quo will no longer be good enough – because people will see your tweets directly in the Google search results, significantly increasing their visibility. Prospects will have the opportunity to judge your institution through real-time content – so every tweet now matters, because you never know who is going to be viewing your updates when they are forming their consideration sets.
Twitter now must officially become a more important component of an institution’s digital strategy and now has significant search engine optimization implications since Google will now be able to index tweets more effectively and crawl Twitter links. As Google continues to increase the information they share about an institution, it will be increasingly important for institutions to develop a distinctive digital strategy – one that not only showcases their brand, but also aligns with how the digital world is evolving. The institutions at the forefront of digital marketing, including Google changes, will be the ones to gain a competitive advantage and increase the visibility of their institutions and programs.
Bob Booth, Digital Analyst at Eduvantis contributed to this post.