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:
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.
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.