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Twitter Improves “Who To Follow” Results & Gains Advanced Search Page
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 Twitter.com 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 Twitter.com. However, you will find the same information at Twitter Search here.
You’ve always been able to use these search commands at Twitter.com, 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:
- TweepRank? TwitRank? Twitter Has A Reputation Score For Every User
- How To Find The Right People To Follow On Twitter
- Bing Social Search Now Recommends People To Follow On Twitter
- Twitter Launches A “Who To Follow” People Directory
- Google Realtime Search Gets Home Page, Conversation View, Alerts & Geosearch
- Topsy: Now Searching Tweets Back To May 2008
- An Illustrated Guide To Searching For Shared, Tweeted & “Realtime” Images
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.