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Twitter ups its search game: How it compares against G+ and Facebook's Open Graph

Ian Paul | Aug. 5, 2013
Beyond revamping its Windows 8 app, the self-styled information network upgraded the search capabilities on Twitter.com.

Twitter is on a roll this week. In addition to pumping up its Windows 8 app, the self-styled information network upgraded the search capabilities on Twitter.com.

Twitter's new search features are supposed to make it easier to find accounts and recent photos related to your search topic, as well as view a stream of topical tweets as you could before. Twitter also added the ability to view recent searches and what it calls social context to your results, which is just a fancy way of telling you whether you're following an account or not.

Searching Twitter
At first glance, the new search results page looks the same as it did before. You get a main section of search results and off to the left are a few options to refine your results. The search page also lists a few accounts you might like to follow that are unrelated to your search, as well as the latest trending topics on Twitter.

But look a bit deeper and you can notice some changes. Off to the left is a new option to refine your search to view only photos, in addition to people or the main stream of results. In the main search column, you get a few popular tweets as you did before, followed by a number of accounts (called 'People') related to your search topic. That is followed by a section of photos, and then more top tweets.

Twitter's new search results set-up can vary a little bit depending on what you search for, but it will be more or less the same for each query.

A nice addition to Twitter search is the ability to see whether you're following an account as you type your query.

When searching for "Google," for example, the drop-down menu below the search bar shows account suggestions such as @Google, @GoogleNexus, and @GoogleIO, and whether or not you're following those accounts.

Twitter has always been good at finding recent and popular tweets that contain your search keywords. The same goes for images since photo results are based on finding keywords in tweets.

But in my tests, account suggestions were hit or miss. A search for Google Glass brought up two Twitter accounts related to Google Glass on the results page: @googleglass and the now defunct @projectglass.

Twitter must not depend very heavily on account activity for its search results considering @projectglass currently has just one tweet from July 12, nearly a month ago. However, it's worth noting that when you drill down into the people section of the results page, you get a much wider of Google Glass-related users.

 

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