Twitter Search to dive deeper, rank results

Coming soon: Twitter Search will start crawling the links included in tweets and will feature smarter results pages. Plus, Twitter is faster than earthquakes.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

Correction: Santosh Jayaram's title at Google has been corrected.

Twitter Search will become a lot more useful soon, the microblogging site's new vice president of operations said Wednesday night.

Santosh Jayaram, who until recently was manager of search quality operations for Google, was on a panel I was moderating in the evening. During the panel and later in a one-on-one discussion, Jayaram confirmed that Twitter Search, which currently searches only the text of Twitter posts, will soon begin to crawl the links included in tweets and begin to index the content of those pages.

Santosh Jayaram, Twitter vice president Rafe Needleman/CNET

This will make Twitter Search a much more complete index of what's happening in real time on the Web and make it an even more credible competitor to Google Search for people looking for very timely content.

Twitter Search will also get a "reputation" ranking system soon, Jayaram told me. 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 the search results in part based on that.

Jayaram did not say precisely how reputation will be calculated; he indicated that engineers are still figuring that out. But this, again, will make Twitter Search more valuable.

Currently, if you search for a hot topic on Twitter, the results may be swamped by re-tweets and low-value content from hundreds or thousands of other users. A ranking system will help a great deal. See "Twitter search is broken" and "Three start-ups attack Twitter Search."

I'm looking forward to these changes.

Also, here is a real-time search story from Jayaram, which he used to illustrate the immediacy of Twitter Search during the panel discussion. He told of being in the Twitter offices in San Francisco on March 30, when the Twitter engineers noticed that the word "earthquake" had suddenly started trending up. They didn't know where the earthquake was.

Several seconds later, their building started to shake. The earthquake had been in Morgan Hill, 60 miles south of San Francisco, and the tweets about the shaker reached the office faster than the seismic waves themselves.