If Twitter wasn’t already controversial enough, the company’s latest slew of updates to the platform has had rather unintended consequences that could look to impact the brand in a significant way.
For those that have grown tired of keeping up with the never-ending updates to Twitter (and Elon’s life); the company has changed their data scraping policies to limit the number of views a tweet can have.
Whilst the topic of data scraping has become rather popular over the past 6 months, with platforms such as Reddit and many other large websites trying to combat the rise of LLMs (platforms like OpenAI’s ChatGPT) from using their data to train the model.
Twitter’s approach has landed the platform with some unexpected consequences, losing over 30% of its organic traffic globally in the last 24-48 hours.
Data provided by Sistrix shows that the controversial social media platform has seen visibility drop worldwide by a staggering 25% across key markets such as: :
United Kingdom: 28% Drop
France: 17% loss
Italy: 26% loss
Germany: 25% loss
Spain: 14% loss
“We see this kind of activity happen on a regular basis with businesses that are greatly affected by an update to Google’s algorithm, this change does not come from an action that Google has taken, but rather an action that Twitter have taken. While there are operational decisions that have led to this outcome, it will be interesting to see if the business impact, will cause Twitter to rethink their data scraping policies”– Oliver Caprile
Evolving Digital has conducted our own research using leading SEO tools such as Ahrefs & SEMRush.
In the Australian market; Twitter has lost 3.3 million projected traffic compared to the previous 7 days prior.
On June 25th 2023; Twitter’s projected traffic was 15,277,633 based on the keywords and terms they ranked for.
In Australia, Twitter has lost prominent rankings for terms such as:
- EPL Ladder
- Australian Cricket
- Plus many more
As of July 3, 2023; Twitter’s projected traffic was 9,989,469 representing a 34.6% decrease in organic traffic in 8 days.
How Did This Happen?
The decline in Twitter’s search visibility can be attributed to the actions taken by its new owner and CEO, Elon Musk. In an attempt to address issues with data scraping, Musk announced temporary limits on the number of tweets users could read per day.
Initially, the limits were set at 6,000 posts for verified accounts, 600 for unverified accounts, and 300 for new unverified accounts. However, Musk later raised these limits twice, ultimately ending at 10,000, 1,000, and 500 posts respectively.
Musk stated that these measures were necessary to address the issue of data scraping, which had been affecting the user experience on Twitter.
One’s Loss, Is Another’s Gain
Twitter’s decline in search visibility has resulted in a reshuffling of rankings in Google’s search results, benefiting its competitors.
In the US; domains such as theguardian.com, instagram.com, facebook.com, rottentomatoes.com, linkedin.com, and spotify.com have witnessed improvements in their search rankings.
These domains, which are close competitors to Twitter, have gained significant visibility in the search results, potentially attracting users who would have otherwise turned to Twitter. This shift in rankings further amplifies the impact of Twitter’s decline in search visibility.
Where to Now?
For a platform like Twitter, which thrives on real-time news and discussions, its visibility on Google directly affects its ability to attract new users and retain casual visitors.
While existing users can still access Twitter directly, the decline in search visibility hampers the discovery of new content on the platform. Users who rely on Google to find tweets related to specific topics, especially those associated with the lost keywords, may be inclined to explore alternative platforms. With such a significant drop in search visibility, Twitter may seem less relevant to prospective users, thereby impacting its growth and user engagement metrics.
It’s interesting to note that Musk’s businesses have rarely relied on Search as a traffic acquisition strategy — think PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX and now Twitter; Twitter is the first brand that Musk has taken on that heavily relies on search as part of its acquisition strategy.
The question that arises now is: will Twitter recover from this sudden decline in search visibility? We suspect the business will feel the impact even more greatly over time.
Recovery will largely depend on how Twitter addresses the underlying issues. Google’s algorithms take into account a site’s history, so a prolonged decrease in visibility might make it more challenging for Twitter to regain lost rankings even after resolving the issues.
It’s important to remember that the internet ecosystem is dynamic, and platforms have the potential to bounce back. If Twitter can swiftly resolve the issues that hinder Google’s search crawlers from accessing its content, it could gradually regain its lost visibility and rankings.