I know that seems like a large leap of logic, but when it’s distilled and deconstructed down to the central idea, that is exactly what Google intends to do.
Here’s what Amit Singhal says about how they calculate your TweetRank (in a nutshell)
In the case of tweets, the key is to identify “reputed followers,” says Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow, who led development of real-time search. (Twitterers “follow” the comments of other Twitterers they’ve selected, and are themselves “followed.”)
“You earn reputation, and then you give reputation. If lots of people follow you, and then you follow someone–then even though this [new person] does not have lots of followers,” his tweet is deemed valuable because his followers are themselves followed widely, Singhal says. It is “definitely, definitely” more than a popularity contest…
In fact, that is exactly what it is. A popularity contest. Of course, we all had some inkling of that notion to begin with, but now it’s official. I do think they are trying to determine relevance and trustworthiness and integrating that into the TweetRank algorithm, but like meta-keywords in their heyday, it’s a lot easier to “filter out noise” by a simple follower count. It’s more than that, it is, to say the least, another Orwellian attempt by Google to “filter” information they deem “relevant and trustworthy”. Just look at the article’s example for “Obama” tweets.
Google is now Controlling the Conversation
Do not attempt to adjust the vertical or the horizontal. They have control. With the inception of TweetRank, and the newfound importance of RTS (real-time-search) and the RTR (real-time-results), if you want exposure you’ll have to play by their rules. What does that mean exactly?
Hello. I’m SPAM-BOT #6257. I’m now following you.
First: don’t manage who follows you or who you follow. As pointed out, high follower counts, like the PageRank algorithm theorized, is essentially a vote of confidence the user is worthwhile, trusted, and relevant. If follower count is the initial indicator of “trust”, then we’re about to see quality take a dive. Anyone who’s been using twitter, say for more than 2 months, knows spam is the prevalent thing in the tweet-tubes.
Second: put the brakes on your hash-tag use. I can see Google’s point on this, and there is no limit to hash-spam out there (i.e. #ThatsOldSkool). But, for much of the users on twitter, particularly the SEM crowd, it’s more artistic expression and blunt force. Personally, I use the hash-tag for sarcasm, blunt honesty, and to call out industries of importance to me. Hash-tags on Twitter are part of the socio-culture. It’s ingrained. To be so wholly injudicious and lump ALL hash-tags together is ridiculous.
Google: Can it Change the Culture of Twitter?
No one is really taking this seriously yet, so I don’t expect the change to happen overnight. However, as RTS and RTRs are pushed to the forefront of search, and Google makes good on the RTR algorithm, you’re going to see marketers drop hash-tags from their tweets. You’re going to see an over-abundance of spam infiltrating the ranks of everyone just to have massive follower counts.
It will only take 6 months of this algorithm being applied before Google goes back to the drawing board. Google picking on the easy marks to establish faux-quality guidelines: Followers and Hash-Tags. It won’t take long before QDF (query deserves freshness) queries and results are overrun with pure and utter garbage, under the current guidelines. These two major indices DO NOT indicate quality of tweet or Tweeple.
I think Google will fail in its quest to re-mold the conversation on Twitter. And, ultimately, Google is going to have to really put some complicated thought into how it serves RTRs. Perhaps an algorithm that matches the complexity of the is SERP algorithm. This is the easy way out, and it’s only going to lead to poor quality and bad results.