Twitter Improves “Who To Follow” Results & Gains Advanced Search Page

Twitter announced that it has improved its “Who To Follow” feature with better people search results and added a new advanced search page, making it easier to do such searches at

People Search Gets Subject-Specific

Now when you search for a topic in Twitter’s search box, Twitter will suggest people to follow based on the overall topic of that search and not just on whether the people or accounts listed have the word you searched for in their name.

For example, in a search for android:

The “People” results that appear in the top right corner of the search results contain some accounts that don’t actually have the word “android” in them, such as:

In the past, Twitter says this generally wouldn’t have happened. Usually, only accounts containing the exact word you searched for would have appeared in the People results.

The goal is to help searchers discover new accounts to follow related to what they seem to be interested in, based on subjects they search for. From Twitter’s blog post:

This new approach helps you find the Twitter users that will best help you follow your interests. For example, if you’re interested in hip hop, chances are that you’d like to follow hip hop artists. Searching for “hip hop” now surfaces accounts like @common and @questlove. (Previously, we typically showed accounts that have “hip hop” in the name.)

Getting More People Suggestions

You can also see more than just the four people or accounts that Twitter suggests in relation to a search. To do this, either click on the “More people results” link below the suggestion, as the arrow shows below:

Or use the “People” tab from the main search window, as the arrow points at below. Either will give you a list of matching people suggestions:

The results above are from when I was logged in to Twitter, which is why you don’t see a Follow/Following button next to my own dannysullivan account. You can also see how accounts relevant to SEO but which don’t use that word in their names or bios still manage to turn up.

Examples include @google (Google’s main Twitter account), @googlewmc (Google Webmaster Central) and @mattcutts (Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team), all of which are great accounts for those interested in SEO to follow — as is our own @sengineland account!

It’s not clear how Twitter determines relevancy. It’s definitely not by follower count. Otherwise, @google with nearly 3 million followers would be at the top of the list. I’ll update if I learn more from Twitter.

Postscript: I’ve heard back from Twitter, which told me:

When you search for a topic or interest, we return users based on an algorithm. That algorithm looks at a variety of factors, including your profile information, engagement on Twitter, who you follow, and who follows you.

Twitter’s Advanced Search Page

A really nice addition is that those searching from can now access an advanced search page, allowing you to easily access special commands. A link to this page now appears at the top of all search results:

You can also go directly to the page here. The page allows you to do things such as:

  • search for exact phrases
  • search for tweets from or to people
  • search for tweets near a place

For example, here’s the same search I did above for “japan” but now changed to bring back tweets determined to be from those within 15 miles of Tokyo:

Twitter’s Search “Operators”

The “operators” link that appears at the top of all search results also makes a list of search commands appear, if you need a quick reference:

Unfortunately, Twitter’s not made this as a standalone page that you can go to directly at However, you will find the same information at Twitter Search here.

You’ve always been able to use these search commands at, but few there probably have known about them. The changes will make advanced search much more visible to Twitter users, and that’s a good thing. It was about the only thing I found lacking when Twitter made huge changes to its search feature toward the end of last year. The article below explains more about this:

Remember, Twitter search still remains limited to the past four to seven days worth of information. To go further back in time, you’ll need to use another service such as Google or Topsy. The articles below have more about this, as well as image searching tips and other ways to find people to follow:

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Top News | Twitter


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


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  • Claude Toussaint

    great article! I think I will actually start using the twitter search feature now. The way you explain this seems twitter has made some significant updates to make it easier for me to follow a few targeted individuals every day

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