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Twitter Embraces Its Inner Search Engine
Twitter is a search engine after all — or make that a “discovery engine.” The folks at Twitter are saying that the experiment with integrating a search box into Twitter pages will rolled out with some interesting twists and new dimensions. It won’t be at the top of the page, but rather on the sidebar:
Currently, a small subset of Twitter users are trying this new search feature in the sidebar of their Twitter home page. When you do a search, you don’t go to another page, the relevant tweets instantly show up where you’d expect them to—right on your home page where tweets love to be.
Twist number one, “saved searches”:
If there’s a search you want to do on a regular basis, you can “save” the search. That will place the word or term permanently in your sidebar for easy access. So if you want to know what people are saying about the city you live in, the products you use, or just something weird, it becomes a link on your home page.
This notion of persistent search or, perhaps more analogously alerts, is not new but its integration into Twitter provides a potentially useful way to monitor certain kinds of terms (think of all the PR people who will monitor their clients or brands, etc.). Apparently the tweets that will be revealed when accessing those saved searches are real-time posts/discussions — literally happening right now. It’s not entirely clear what happens to relevant search content that is a day or a week old. That great restaurant recommendation or other revelation might have occurred in the recent past when you were asleep or taking your kids to the movies.
Twist number two, “trends”:
Trends are words or phrases being referenced with more frequency suggesting that something interesting might be happening. When you click on a trend link, you can read the tweets and find out what’s up. Trends is in beta—but it has potential.
Trends will also be in the sidebar apparently and will be about the Twittergeist rather than individual search queries. Danny has written a couple of extensive posts on Twitter as search tool and the rise of “help engines” (Twitter and beyond). Matt McGee’s got another Twitter-related search post that will appear later today.
Twitter with these changes is moving much more squarely into the mainstream world of search — and discovery.