There was an SEO battle of the social media giants this weekend. A battle that, for the most part, almost went unnoticed.
Twitter’s got a brand new powerful weapon against other social media platforms: its own news box.
Jeffrey Preston, SEO manager for Disney, noticed a really interesting SearchMetrics visibility spike for Twitter.com.
Patrick Kajirian from ESPN (working with Jeffrey Preston) was the first one to notice Twitter’s visibility spike.
SearchMetrics – Winners (absolute)
+40% visibility for such a large website is not something you often see. Let’s take a closer look into what caused such a massive take-off for Twitter’s SEO.
First, let’s have a look at the winner keywords that caused such a spike.
Twitter – winner keywords April 24th, 2016
Most queries are brand related. This reminds me of the brand bidding algorithm release from January 2016, when using almost exactly the same keywords caused massive drops for news websites.
Visibility – possibly exaggerated
The visibility spike you see on the chart is most probably exaggerated. I don’t think that SearchMetrics managed to adapt their scrapers to properly interpret Twitter’s new News Box.
SearchMetrics rankings for “Netflix”
Google SERP for “Netflix”
As you can see, Twitter doesn’t in fact have 6 results, but 1 news box with vertical scrolling (with 6 results). The Click Through Rate from such a box cannot be compared to having 6 independent results within 1 SERP.
Impact of Twitter’s News Box
Just as one would expect, such a high visibility increase had to affect other websites. In this case, some of the biggest losers were Instagram and Facebook. Twitter managed to take over 23% of Instagram’s visibility, and 17% of Facebook visibility. Facebook and Instagram lost visibility related to celebrity-related (Instagram) and brand related (Facebook) queries.
Instagram’s loser keywords
After searching a few drops, we can clearly see that, apart from injecting news box above Instagram’s results, Twitter silently replaced Instagram’s results. See the example below:
Twitter gained #2 position, while Chris Brown’s official Instagram page got pushed down to as far as #20.
The impact of Twitter’s expansion is so huge that the “Chris Brown” keyword isn’t even their top gain. It is far down on their winner keywords list.
Fortunately (for Instagram), for most queries, Twitter’s News Box was “inserted” above Instagram’s organic result, which in fact pushed Instagram only 1 position lower.
Facebook’s loser keywords
Almost all of Facebook’s loser keywords are the ones that Twitter’s gained last week.
#2 was previously held by Facebook, and that was now demoted to #6.
Twitter vs. Instagram vs. Facebook – visibility
As you can see on the chart above, we are looking at a possibly historical moment when Twitter is taking over millions of Facebook’s and Instagram queries. Of course, as I mentioned before, all the visibility metrics for Twitter are now exaggerated until SearchMetrics adds Twitter’s News Box to their algorithm. At the same time, the trend we are seeing is definitely happening, and this hit was definitely huge for Facebook and Instagram.
Battle of the giants or first signs of changes in Google SERPS?
Of course, as some SEOs may suspect, it looks like Google’s and Twitter’s cooperation against Facebook and Instagram. Google’s agreement with Twitter makes this scenario even more interesting.
It is hard to speculate about the nature of this shift with just a little bit of data. My best guess now is that Google is trying to integrate Social Media platforms into their SERPs to present better results for users. If my hypothesis is right, Google should create Facebook & Instagram News Box as well, which can reduce the number of organic results on the first page even further than before.