Topsy Launches Twitter Expert Search; Better Options Exist


Topsy, the Twitter-focused real-time search engine, has launched a new tool aimed at helping users find the right people to follow called Topsy Expert Search. The blog post seems to suggest that this is a “labs” product, but there’s a prominent link to Expert Search right from Topsy’s home page.

Either way, Expert Search seems like a tool that’s not quite ready for prime-time. Consider, for example, an expert search for SEO:

(click for larger version)

No disrespect to the account holders who are listed for that query — they very well may be SEO experts. But I think most readers would agree that those are not the first Twitter users we’d think of when naming SEO experts. No @aaronwall? No @graywolf? No @randfish or @dannysullivan?

The Topsy blog post says that results are ranked “based on influence and topical focus,” but it seems that may be measured by how often you mention certain words in your tweets and how often you get retweeted. In fact, @hostdesign — the second-listed expert above — currently only has two tweets and 36 followers. It looks like the account had much more activity in the past, including many tweets that mentioned “SEO” repeatedly.

Topsy Expert Search does seem to fare a little better with more mainstream queries like nba, for example; it only does okay for U2, though.

The idea of doing a Twitter-based “expert search” is a good one, but for now you may want to rely on Twitter’s new usernames-in-search-results feature. You might also try Google’s experimental Follow Finder that I wrote about in April. And a month before that, I went deeper into several tools for this purpose in the article, How To Find The Right People To Follow On Twitter.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Search Engines: People Search | Search Engines: Real Time Search | Topsy | Twitter


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • vipul

    Topsy expert search uses keyword mentioned in tweets to find experts. It is very effective for specific terms and longer tail concepts eg: “lucene”, “solr”, “real-time search”, “speech recognition”. It is less effective on abstract concepts like “movies” or “seo” that people talk about without mentioning literally in their tweets.

    We are working on including several signals from outside the tweet text to provide more rewarding results overall. Some of these signals are specifically aimed at performance on conceptual queries.

    As for username search, we see it as a different use case — username search is about finding accounts for people you already know. Topsy expert search is about finding accounts for people who specialize or have expertise in a subject.

    Thanks for the feedback and the mention.



  • Matt McGee

    Vipul – thx for the clarification, and you’re right that there’s a different use case in the username search tools that I mentioned. I think what you’re trying here would be a great tool, but it needs to be better. I hope it continues to improve, and please do keep us posted on any new developments.

  • vipul

    Matt, we pushed out a change to the expert ranking algorithm this morning that makes results more robust on the same data set. We’ll keep you posted as we update Expert Search in the future.



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