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Twitter to Search the Web in Real Time

Twitter Moving Beyond Tweets

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Earlier this year, Twitter began integrating Twitter Search (formerly Summize) into its home page. Just about a week ago, it became available there for everybody.

But that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is what lies ahead for Twitter search. From the sound of it, it’s about to get taken a lot more seriously. According to CNET, Twitter’s new VP of Operations Santosh Jayaram says that Twitter Search, which currently searches only the text of Twitter posts, will soon crawl links included in tweets, and index content from those pages. What do you think about that? Tell WPN readers.


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"Twitter Search will also get a reputation ranking system soon, Jayaram told me," reports CNET’s Rafe Needleman. "When you do a search on a ‘trending’ topic (a topic that is so big it gets its own link in the Twitter.com sidebar), Twitter will take into account the reputation of the person who wrote each tweet and rank search results in part based on that."

Twitter search has been quite useful as it is. I’ve written about this in the past. For businesses, it has been a great tool for finding potential leads, and managing your online reputation, just to name a couple.

For the general public, it’s provided insight into what people are talking about right now, it’s often broken news stories, and it’s provided a way for people to connect with others who may have something in common with them (although Twellow is more specifically designed for this).

But with changes coming to Twitter Search, it’s going to be a whole new ball game. We’re talking about Google territory. Twitter is adding algorithmic ranking, perhaps similar to Google’s Pagerank. It sounds like Twitter will be bringing an altogether new ranking concept to Internet search by using the number of links in tweets as a value statement on the web page.

This is taking real-time search for web pages to a new level. And let’s also not forget that Jayaram used to be the VP of Search Quality at Google.

Twiter Search To - Search Results

What Twitter is doing could compete with Google News search, Google Blog Search, Google video search, and in terms of recent content even Google’s main search engine.

Is it going to come out and immediately dethrone Google? That’s probably not going to happen. For one Twitter users still have a hard time convincing people why they should be using Twitter at all. Everyone already uses Google, and even if another search engine were delivering better results, people would still be using Google. That seems to be the problem Microsoft is having (it is their claim that people found their results as good or better than Google).

"Strategically, a more advanced search engine could give Twitter more appeal as a takeover target – Steve Ballmer, for example, is making noise about how Microsoft has to get more disruptive in search," says Buckpost at Twitterrati. "Better search could also jump-start Twitter’s business by providing more relevance and targeting for advertisers."

Interesting point. We are still waiting on that revenue machine Twitter’s going to unload on us.

Either way, Twitter is clearly branching out beyond the simple social network/public IM/microblogging/etc. platform it has become known as. It has been in the search conversation for some time (even as a possible test for Google), but now you might start finding it there for greater reasons.

What do you think about Twitter’s search plans? Tell us.

Do you think Twitter will cut into Google searches significnatly? Why? Why not? 

Do you think Google will improve its own real time search capabilities enough to stamp out any threat?  Share your opinion.

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  • http://www.standardsgirl.com Kristine Schachinger

    First, I am not sure that a real time search and Google should be compared as I believe the use case models to be very different. I am always saddened when I hear news of Google looking at moving to timed search. It always worries me.

    I often tell someone, hey you can find site X at Google by searching these keywords “*”. If that ability was gone in favor of changing results, a lot of sites would lose traffic and a lot of information would no longer be transferable. (This is one of my issues with personalized search as well)

    But back to Twitter.. aside from just attempting to beat larger brands like Google I see there are several potential issues –
    1) Twitter has to become an application where you can do on its own pages what you can do in the third party downloads. I mean you cannot even RT on it currently. Until this is possible, my belief is adoption rates will be low. I call it the mom factor. If mom cannot understand it AND find a use for it, it will not make the mainstream.

    2) Twitter has to become a better development company. Twitter has numerous issues now and it basically just a data post and retrieve system. Imagine how it will be once it is downloading web pages and information and trying to write algo’s to sort and retrieve. IE the programming behind Twitter right now is not very extreme and they have a lot of regular issues. To enter this market, they will need rockstars and people like Google has on staff. Entering the real time search market is much more difficult and complex than just scraping, posting and retrieving information.

    3) That leads me to my final issue of Twitter as search engine. Once you start collecting that data and trying to find authority, esp in a real-time system, you have to be able to continually monitor for issues of spam, malicious code attacks, hackers, spammers with illegal methods etc etc etc… Right now, given the issues Twitter has managing a simple application, I see that a Twitter search engine could be a serious security issue. Unless they step up their game – are bought by someone with game or hire the rockstars away from the established engines, my guess is the Twitter engine will be fraught with issues that will end it before it begins.

    However, I could be completely wrong :)
    I do hope though – however it goes – real time search is seen as a NEW and ADDITIONAL model to traditional and not where we are going. I will have little need for real-time search. It might be interesting, but for school and work and even personal interests I need established models that produce consistent results, so I would be happy to see a TWITTER version of something like a GOOGLE REAL TIME as a sub of Google, but not everyone moving to this real-time model.

    • Chris Crum

      I don’t look for real-time search to replace traditional search. I can see it being used frequently for certain searches though. Like mentioned in the article…things like blog search, news search, etc. And when somebody wants to find truly up to date info, they could conceivably turn to Twitter over Google. In fact, I’d say there are quite a few people doing so already. I’m not looking for this to come in and replace Google. You do make some good points above though. Particularly regarding the “mom factor” and the need for more integration of apps.

      • http://www.standardsgirl.com Kristine Schachinger

        Hi Chris,

        First, thank you for responding and for your kind words. :)

        Second, my apologies, I did not think you were advocating. However, I know that when I am at conferences like SES I hear a lot of people discussing the idea of moving to a real-time model as the way engines need to go. I also have seen Google experiments with adding an element of time to their search engine. So, was more responding to them.

        Personally, I would find real-time would be helpful for news related items, but about 90% of my searches are for information that exists from established sources, so traditional search still the best for me (well until they have semantic ;))

        Hope that came across. :)

  • overthehillfan

    I think it would be great, “IF” and I do mean IF it works. Twitter seems to be implementing to many options, way to fast. As an example it’s been a month and 145 and counting posts/complaints later they still have not fixed the IMAGES issue…See here:
    http://twitter.zendesk.com/forums/31935/entries/30125?page=142#posts-53307
    Perhaps they need to back up, fix the bugz in what they have and then move on to bigger and better things.

  • Guest

    Finally, a true opponent the battle will be legendary…

  • http://www.webhosting-10.com Host

    Good way to go for Twitter,I think Gigablast is the only search dngine that I know off that searches In real time.

  • http://www.liveambitions.com Steve

    If Twitter is giving the most preference to sites or resources that are linked from Twitter, then the results are going to be a bit biased. Not everyone will be interested in searches that are deemed popular by Twitter users.

    Google has been tuning and refining their algorithm for years, so I doubt that a new company could overtake them any time soon in terms of coverage and techological advancement.

    • http://www.mtuba4u.co.za mtuba4u

      Your favorite search engine is the one that you enjoy using most often. so how would the relevance of a different search engine influence your search ?

      If twitter searches are based on information supplied in tweets, then that will be great, and fillup the link base considerably for users to find a wide range of divers topics, that are current, relevant and usefull.

      Having a search on the same page that carries a little relevance is always a great idea, and most search engines started with a tiny paid for listing in their databases many moons back.

      Once the search engines monetized their pages all the rules changed and listings became free or paid for, now days paid listings seem to be frowned upon, as it is biased information, and paid listings are treated as second class citizens in the eyes of the man on the street. Big business swamps new business by offering so much to be at the number one listing that the small guys just fall off the map.

      Twitter search results will not suffer this fate, as all listings will be based on information submitted by users during their day to day tweets as well as related out bound links in their writings. these writings are all current and topic specific, which means placing relevant SERP’s (Search engine results pages) will be a lot easier than the blind linking and searching which Google does.

      Having a search facility linked directly to the out bound links of twitter posts will be just awesome, as search results will be topic specific, and be able to list experts on the topic that are active within twitter, thus reducing search time and offering information not available else where in very short time frame.

      Fellow twitter users will be listed as experts within their fields of writing, and be found by topic, trade or special services in no time at all.

      this will be the best thing since bubblegum… for sure.

  • http://www.thebookabyss.com.au Australian Online Bookstore

    This is great news i think for regular twitter users. Granted it will not replace google as the main search facility but for those people that want up to the minute results like news or current affairs it will be great.

  • http://www.melbourneonline.com.au/search-engine-optimisation.asp Mark – SEO Melbourne

    That’s great that Twitter have come up with a way to search their data…

    Now all they have to do is stop people leaving the service in droves.

  • http://officialsafetyandsecurity.com Official Safety and Security

    I typically use Twitter to raise awareness for my safety and security web site and its products so anything that makes that task easier is great! Thanks, Chris, for sharing this information.

  • http://bit.ly/5rW65 Siaar of Siaar Group

    I love to have the twitter search box in my website for high end search results to the topics. They doing very well to get more traffic to the twitter users. Thanks : Good article : Like it. Siaar

  • http://www.firmalatter.dk/latterkurser-og-workshops/latterkursus.htm Ejvind

    I like the idea of having the tweets indexed, when there’s a URL in it. Hopefully there will be a system to prevent spammers from using it.
    Now it seems that Twitter is coming up with more than a text message system for the masses.

    • http://www.theinternetglassescompany.co.uk Designer Glasses

      Im loving this ! …… i cant wait for it to start indexing my tweets…. I’m also waiting patiently for the twitter advertising model to be released !!

  • http://www.twitter.com/brentgrab Brent

    The big question is Can/Will Twitter Monetize? They’re doing a great job with all of this innovation, new technologies, and unleashing this global search… but what good is it for them if they don’t generate revenue & profits?

    I know people are looking to buy twitter as we speak and most of that is hype because of how popular it is, but if you look at it like a potential stock investment… what are the actual inner workings of twitter? Is there profitability? Is there a solid corporate structure? Is it defensible? What is its value?

    I’m not sure the path for twitter, but right now it is a free for all to see whether or not they will hit the lottery and get bought out and for BIG $ or whether they will continue on their own in similar processes, or if they refuse a buyout, can they start monetizing?

  • http://downseekz.com jason

    i realy love to have the twitter search box in my website for high end search results to the topics.

  • http://www.zahrawy.net/forum/member.php?u=54841 Misti Schutjer

    Way over my head on this. oh well ill have to stare at the net all day now.

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