In my opinion, Twitter, in its current form, isn't a search engine. The idea that Twitter could be a threat to Google is overblown.

But that doesn't mean that Twitter can't become a search engine. That scenario is looking more likely.

According to CNET's Rafe Needleman, Twitter's VP of Operations and a former Googler, Santosh Jayaram, told him that Twitter "will soon begin to crawl the links included in tweets and begin to index the content of those pages". The only purpose for this, of course, is to build some sort of search product.

In addition, Jayaram said that Twitter will soon be adding a "reputation" element to its existing search. TweetRank anyone?

Clearly, Twitter is thinking more and more about search. It makes sense; everyone has been thinking about Twitter and search. And it's probably a smart thing. By crawling and indexing the content of pages that are linked to in tweets, Twitter could build a very interesting real-time search engine. Perhaps something that would even convince Google that it had to buy Twitter, as has been rumored numerous times.

Twitter's real-time search engine won't be nearly as comprehensive as Google, nor should it be. The purpose will be different and the type of user it attracts will be different. Marshall Kirkpatrick over at ReadWriteWeb is skeptical and I think he makes some good points but I have to assume that Jayaram isn't making up stories here. If Twitter moves ahead, the big question is whether it can build something truly useful by simply crawling pages that are linked to from tweets. I personally wonder if there will be enough diversity to create something of mainstream appeal and to provide the foundation for a search product that can be monetized well.

Time will tell.

Photo credit: 7son75 via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 8 May, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (5)


James Ward, Digital Coach at Freelance

But what's to stop Google just crawling all links from tweets and assigning as much relevance and authority to those pages as it likes?

about 9 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy


Absolutely nothing. Twitter's advantage in creating some sort of real-time search engine based on tweet links probably lies solely in being able to brand it as Twitter real-time search.

about 9 years ago


Maneet Puri

Hmm.. Twitter as a search engine. I agree Twitter helps find links to some great content but I dont think it can replace Google in deliverising search results. The reason being.. Google search results are optimized and arranged as per relevance by Google itself. On the other hand, Twitter content os what is posted by the users and that is exactly how it appears in the search results.

about 9 years ago


Jason Brooks

Further to social bookmarking and blogs a real time twitter search seems to me like a great way to get even more of the freshest content circulating fast. Not sure about the tweetRank though!

about 9 years ago



We have recently launched, gives you search results from google and twitter simultaneously. Simple!

about 9 years ago

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