Just got an email from a client about this, and in fact have gotten several lately. Since Google is a huge deal, anything and everything they do is a huge deal. The fact that Twitter is a huge deal too makes this story quite a big one. That said, I think there is more hype and excitement about the deal, change, etc. than there will be in terms of actual, tangible, meaningful change to search. Granted though, I do think this will an impact. It just won’t be the earth-shattering deal people expect it to be. My thoughts to my client (copied from my email reply):
Yup. I still think this is not going to be implemented in the way people think it will though. Years ago everyone was all optimistic on Froogle (Google’s shopping search) and Google Video search. While they are very nice, they are like 1% or less of search volume.
I stand by the notion that Twitter is very easy to spam, and if Google gives prominent billing to Twitter feed text weighted on recency than that is the easiest thing to spam. The spammers will have a field day. They’ll just write scripts to post new tweets every 5 minutes. In fact, they are already doing that.
Instead, I think what you will see is the “buzz” impact here… Google will see what links people are sharing with each other that hour, that day, etc. and those sites will get a boost in the SERPs. In fact, this is basically how Bing is already starting to incorporate the results. This is much harder to spam and fits in line with Google’s philosophy on search, validation from varied masses, etc.
It also fixes a big weakness they have in that is takes them weeks and months to update their link index. Take the example of Michael Jackson’s death. The day he died if you did a Google search on his name you didn’t see anything related to his death. You saw sites about him, his bio, etc. that had built up their “reputation” scores over many years. The new articles could not compete. Leveraging data from social media in real time, in combination with Google Caffeine, can help them bridge that gap and make search now something that can be helpful for current events whereas to this point it has failed in that area.
Summation: I think this story is a 10 out of 10 in terms of hype, interest, etc. I think 2 years from now we’ll say its a 7 out of 10 in terms of how it impacted search, SEO, etc. 7 is still pretty special, but with a 7 you should still be able to go to sleep tonight instead of staying up and analyzing this.