It’s been one of the biggest problems Twitter has had for years, that it’s difficult to find your own tweets on the Twitter. The new Twitter Archive service that Twitter launched today goes a long way in solving this issue.
Step-By-Step: How To Download All Your Tweets With The New Twitter Archive Service is our story on our Marketing Land sister-site that covers how the new service works. Here on Search Engine Land, we’ll focus on the search aspect.
After you’ve downloaded your tweets, you can hunt through them in one of two ways: browsing by month or by keyword search:
Browsing by month is pretty easy. You just select a month “bar” shown on the right side of the screen, click on it, and all your tweets are listed in reverse chronological order for that month.
Keyword search is pretty easy, as well. It just might be something that’s overlooked, by some. The search box is less noticeable at the top of the Twitter Archive home page. It’s also not something you might expect works for a page that’s downloaded and seemingly “static” on your own computer. But it does.
Using Twitter Archive Search
Below, I’ve done a search for “norad,” (as in the missile & Santa tracking organization) and the page found 32 tweets I’ve done stretching back to 2007 that mention it:
The results are listed in reverse chronological order, so your newest tweet that matches a search comes first, then older tweets come below that. If you’re looking for a particular tweet on a subject you tweet often about, then getting to the most “relevant” or popular one might be an issue.
Still, it’s better than Twitter itself, where using the advanced search page, Twitter only found one “norad” tweet from me:
Twitter only keeps about a week’s worth of tweets available to those searching on its site. Tweets are still up; you just can’t search for them through Twitter. But the Twitter Archive lets you search through all your tweets. From any tweet you find through Twitter Archive, a “View On Twitter” link will also take you to that tweet on the web:
The Topsy Alternative
If you don’t want to download your archive, there remains a way to search over a long period of time through Topsy, Twitter’s long-time search partner. Here’s that “norad” search against my tweets there:
To do that search, I used Topsy’s advanced search page, where I was able to enter the word I wanted to search for and separately the Twitter user I wanted to search using that word (myself).
Topsy’s advanced search page also allows you to do what Twitter Archive search can’t, which is to search through the history of tweets for any particular user. That’s because Topsy does keep all those old tweets, that Twitter provides it with, available in a searchable format.
Two things to note about that Topsy example above. First, the results are listed in order of perceived relevance, rather than date. You can change to date-based using the option along the left-side. But if you have a lot of tweets on a particular topic, using relevancy sort with Topsy might be more helpful than Twitter Archive.
Second, Twitter Archive found 32 tweets about “norad” from me but Topsy only found half that amount, 18. What’s up?
I found when I changed the settings from “Everything” to “Tweets” on the left-hand side, the count increased to 26. I think “Everything,” ironically, doesn’t include everything but rather drops out replies you make on Twitter.
Also keep in mind that Topsy only has tweets back to May 2008. Twitter Archive may have tweets you’ve made before that, as well as any private tweets you may have made. But also remember, Twitter Archive will only have tweets through the time you did your download. In a week or month or year, you’ll need to download again, to search against your latest tweets.
I’d still like to see Twitter itself offer historic search against tweets live on the web, similar to what Topsy does or what we had with Google, until the Twitter-Google deal collapsed. But Twitter Archive is a much welcomed feature to get.
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