April 14, 2009

Is Google Threatened By Twitter Search

twitter-search Recently there are quite a number of people discussing about Twitter as a search engine. Twitter is not just a personal messaging platform. Instead it is a informational conversional platform for social networking purpose.

Twitter is growing rapidly since the year of 2008 and heavily used by quite a large number of bloggers and marketers. This has resulted quite huge number of quality content stored in Twitter server. In order to receive quality informational content, Twitter search is one of the important channel besides following information creator.

One reason I like Twitter search is it can return me the latest topic people are talking and discussing about. Unlike traditional search engines, it is almost real-time in Twitter which is an advantage. We can use such feature to analyze the current trend real-time and no need to wait at least a few days for traditional search engines to grab all the information from the web. This is a critical feature for businesses if they want to know what are the responses from people interested in their products or services. They can base on the conversation and adjust their marketing strategy and tactics faster and improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

Although Twitter search is good but it is still very young compared to traditional search engine giants. Personally I have a few opinions on how to improve Twitter search to compete with traditional search engines.

#1 Relevancy

One of the key factor in the search engine result is relevancy. All the results retuned must be related to the search term. The results should be ordered according to the relevancy. The most relevant content should be at the top and less relevant content should be placed at the bottom of the page.

In Twitter search, the results are ordered by message posting date and time. The most recent tweet is placed at the top of the result page. It is good to show recent content to the searcher but it is better if the Twitter search algorithm can include the relevancy check not just base on the posting date and time. Sometime the most relevant information might be posted a few days or months ago. So Twitter search should have the intelligence to show this content at the top instead of the content posted a few minutes ago.

#2 Authority

In Google or other traditional search engines, authority has been introduced in the search engine rankings calculation. It means if more web pages link to a your web page, then your web page will have a higher ranking due to higher authority. Not all contents are created equally. Some contents get popular might be due to their presentation and writing styles. All these factors are hard to determine using algorithm, so we need other ways to find out which content or information are preferable. And authority is a good way to resolve this issue.

Twitter search should consider developing a ranking algorithm to make the search engine perfect.

#3 Spam Filtering

Usually people will include a link in the message pointing to a web page for the full content. Right now there is no verification about the content in the link that exist in 140 characters message. People can link to some web pages that do not related to the content of the tweet. This can be considered as some sort of spam.

Twitter search include some sort of checking to figure out is the content in the link related to the tweet. If not, searches will lose the trust to Twitter search.


There are still lots of improvements to be done on Twitter’s search engine to return the result we are expecting such as relevancy, spam filtering and etc. I do not think that Twitter can replace Google in the very near future. At least it will take years for it to come true if it has the potential.

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