UPDATE – On reflection, I do not think this article is accurate proof. *****
UPDATE – Google confirmed they use Twitter!
Google Alerts, which you can use to alert you if Google finds a mention of your brand name or site, picked out this page (in an alert) for ‘Hobo+Google’ – (WARNING – I edited profanity from the images):
….at first I just put it down to another mad result from very quirky Google Alerts, but
- the word ‘hobo’ IS NOT on the page
- the keyword ‘Hobo’ IS in the link URL behind that Bit.ly short-link:
- That Bit.ly URL is nofollowed though, and
- Google ‘seems’ to be going through a 301 redirect at Bit.ly too, to get to that image too
Effectively this page is relevant for the term Hobo+Google, even though one of the words is behind a redirected nofollowed link (we already know Google has access to Twitter’s data, and it seems from this and other Tweets I have looked at, Google clearly gets access to Twitter data before nofollow and the bit.ly redirect is applied or recognised).
Or else how could Google work this ‘relevance’ out in this case?
I don’t spend much time looking at Twitter at all, but it’s kind of clear Google is treating Twitter links differently at Google Alerts level at least. Maybe this effect just won’t make it into Google SERPS, but be useful for discovery purposes (which I have heard some folk talking about but not quite like this)
It’s certainly appears as if Google ignores the bit.ly link too and perhaps just sees it as a straight link, and includes that link as keywords within the page, or is awarding relevance because of the linked image.