Twitter to Search the Web in Real Time

    May 11, 2009
    Chris Crum

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 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.

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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.