Today, the fastest way to get your new website or new web pages indexed by Google is to post the URL on Twitter. This is not instead of the myriad of other things you must do to ensure proper and swift indexing on search engines, but it is definitely the fastest. And by a long shot.
I launched two websites, both were created near-identical as far as code and content is concerned. Both were relaunch sites. One I left alone and let nature take its course. The other I posted 2 tweets about a day apart. The first one lingered for a couple weeks before the site’s SERP on Google updated with the new page titles and meta descriptions. Two weeks is not bad. Except that the site I tweeted with links to the homepage got indexed within 24 hours.
I have been running this A/B scenario over and over on numerous sites and new pages, and the results are always the same: post the URL on Twitter and the site gets indexed much faster. Every time I add a new page to a site, I post its URL on Twitter and within a day or two Google Alerts gets triggered and sends me an email of the new found page.
Think about it: a stranger hands you a flier saying ‘do this!’, or you see a handful of people on Twitter say ‘do this!’. Which one is more interesting and important? Yep, Twitter. Google likely thinks the same thing about the sitemap you submitted.
I recently tested this on Facebook by posting the URL to a publicly viewable business page for that client. Nothing. Tried it again. Nothing. Posted a different URL to Twitter… bam, indexed the next day. Tried the FB scenario again, with the same results. Twitter wins every time.
You can view my Twitter profile and see that I am a bit short of Ashton Kutcher status, so it can’t be my tweets are that attractive to Google.
To sum it up, I think Google looks at the social wing of the web as a way of tackling what is new and relevant first, before crawling some piddly website that gets no traffic. If people are tweeting about a website more than once, then there is a better chance that it is more important, more timely, and more relevant than some site it stumbled upon or was told to crawl via submitting a sitemap to Webmaster Tools. But, what about links from other websites? They are still important and help SEO (when done correctly.)
Think about it from Google’s POV: they see a link, or ten, to your website on other websites. And those links just sit there in the midst of other content that may or may not be relevant (often the latter). Or they see a link, or ten, to your website on Twitter, something that is often about very focused content, and often very timely. If you are Google and you had a choice, which links seem more important? Timely? And relevant? Which are you going to index faster so that your SERP can be important, timely and relevant? Twitter, of course.
Whether you like Twitter or not, it is so important and powerful that it can start revolutions, elevate political parties from obscurity, and is even being used by ocean buoys to alert shore to imminent danger. Facebook is for cute puppy photos, memes and those really bad inspirational ‘posters’. I wouldn’t take links on Facebook too seriously either.
Update: Partnership between Google and Twitter
On Feb 4th, 2015, news broke that Google and Twitter have agreed to a partnership deal, which will be greatly beneficial to both sides. And website owners and operators.
Stone Temple Consulting’s article “How Does Google Index Tweets?” can give you a great primer to how this works. Keep in mind that this is early in the partnership, and it is very likely to change over time. But, this should give you an idea of how to improve your content strategy for Twitter and getting your pages indexed.