6 Reasons Why Twitter is the Future of Search – Google Beware

March 11, 2009 - Written by Gyutae Park  

google twitter bird

This past week the tech world was abuzz with news of Twitter incorporating search functionality into its site. What this means is that you can now easily obtain trending data for popular keywords, take a deeper look at the topics people are talking about in real time, and find answers to pressing questions that others have already written about. So is this really significant? It depends on who you ask. Some think that Twitter is a Google killer while others argue that Twitter isn’t even a search engine at all.

Regardless of which side of the fence you stand, there’s no doubt that Twitter has a bright future with its eyes set on the search market. In fact, Twitter continues to receive millions in funding and recently turned down a $500 million offer from Facebook because of its planned business model of Q&A features and search ads. Who knew status updates could be so valuable? Meanwhile, Facebook has been adding Twitter-like features to try and keep up…

So really, what’s the big deal about Twitter? Isn’t it just a social media site used to socialize with friends? Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, goes as far as to call it the “poor man’s email system”. But the people who really get it understand the huge potential that lies within Twitter. Not only is it a way to connect and interact with others, but it also represent a huge pool of information based on everyday human life that’s ready to be mined to extract real value. Adding search functionality is just the first step in this process.

Not to mention that Twitter already has an impressive track record with various uses. For example, it helped President Barack Obama with his presidential campaign, got a student out of an Egyptian jail, documented plane crashes in real time, and made Dell a million dollars. Twitter has a huge cultish following and is promoted through a grassroots movement that we haven’t seen since…well, the beginning of Google.

Despite all of the hype, Twitter is still in its infancy and it’ll be years, maybe even a decade, before it develops the technology to accurately display search results and put a dent in Google’s market share. But regardless of all that, the point I want to make in this article is that Twitter has what it takes to get there. In other words, Twitter represents the future of search. Still not convinced? Let me explain…

6 Reasons Why Twitter is the Future of Search

1. Takes social to a whole new level
Twitter is essentially a continuous conversation that takes place online between millions of people. Imagine the insights you could gain if you were able to record and search through everyone’s conversations. Of course, it’s a lot less creepy than that but that’s the kind of tool Twitter is becoming as more and more people take part and share parts of their lives. Twitter search is the ultimate social media platform and will enable people to get the opinions of others and add context to relevant information. Searchers don’t just want facts. They want to learn more about the experiences of real people they can relate to.

For example, rather than doing a search in Google for “best restaurants in new york” and getting a bunch of review sites, you can do a search on Twitter to see which restaurants people are talking about in New York. If you don’t like the results, you can easily ask your network and get personalized answers in real time – which will then show up in future searches on the same topic.

Compare that to Google. They’ve been unsuccessful thus far in implementing social factors into the search results via Search Wiki. If you do a search in Google and can’t find what you’re looking for, what are you going to do? Probably ask around on Twitter.

2. Combats information overload
With millions of new web pages springing up every day on the Internet, who has the time or attention span to read through it all? We need filters, and that’s what Twitter provides in 140 characters or less. Twitter is great for searching for quick information and even if you’re looking for long articles, there are plenty of people who post links to relevant pages they like.

3. Real-time content
In this day and age, nobody wants to wait for anything. We live in a society where we get everything fast and can’t stand for anything else. The same applies to information and news. Until recently, we had to wait for journalists to write up reports and publish them online. Google would then index the pages and show them in the search results, but not after at least a couple of hours. Good, but not good enough.

Twitter displays real time streams of news and information. There’s no need to wait, and short of actually being there to experience the events, it’s the next best thing. Twitter has been a great tool for people to broadcast news live from their laptops and mobile phones (e.g. plane crash rescue in the Hudson River).

4. Represents the masses
Twitter levels the playing field and gives everyone a voice online. In the “Twitterverse”, information is a lot more representative of the masses rather than of big corporations and personalities who manipulate people with their ideas. Power is transferred from the controllers of the web (e.g. Google, big news companies, powerful Wikipedia editors, online publishers) to millions of everyday social media users. We’d be able to rely less on big news sources and drill down to the micro level (i.e. experiences of individuals rather than just in aggregate).

5. More trustworthy results
A big advantage Twitter has over Google is that it has the potential to be both a social media platform and a search engine. Users have the option of getting answers from their network of people who they actually trust. On the other hand, Google gives you a page of links compiled by their quality algorithm. Sure, Google returns pretty good search results most of the time, but they’re impersonal and sometimes irrelevant to what you really want. Getting in touch with your network via Twitter is the best way to get reliable information you can trust. For example, if you had a question about life in the NBA, would you rather ask Shaquille O’Neal on Twitter or type a question in Google?

6. Better targeted for location
How does Google know whether or not a page is relevant to a local geographic region? Unless the page is labeled correctly, Google has no idea. Twitter, on the other hand, can easily tie content to a location by using user profile settings or GPS (as technology advances on mobile phones). This in turn means more relevant information and ads in Twitter search.

So what are your thoughts on Twitter as a search engine? Does it have a chance to get in the ring with Google? Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts and follow me @gyutae.

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164 Responses to “6 Reasons Why Twitter is the Future of Search – Google Beware”

wisdom on March 12th, 2009

Twitter still has not hit the mainstream everyday internet user like Google and Facebook has. But they surely have taken notice. I hadn’t see the Dell 1 million article. Thanks for pointing me there.

Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

Twitter is everywhere these days.. CNN and lot of celebrities promote it heavily. I think it’s only a matter of time before it hits mainstream. It’s a very powerful marketing tool for businesses as well.

Salieri on March 23rd, 2009


I think you should be looking at properties like Yauba http://www.Yauba.com that combines the best of Google and Twitter searches along with doing things regarding privacy that neither of them do.

My bet is that the future of search and social media is Yauba and Friendfeed, rather than twitter and Google.

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YAUBA ROCKS on March 23rd, 2009


Nice find. Yauba is definitely cool. I like their privacy policy:

“We do not keep any personally identifiable information.

That’s it.

It searches twitter in real time as well as regular web results. Now if they only added a mail product ….

Kanish on April 7th, 2009

Yauba = Google + Twitter search + Privacy.

Twitter is NOT the future of search … Yauba is. http://www.yauba.com

Vinh Nguyen on March 12th, 2009

I would have to disagree with the claim of your title although your development about Twitter is great. Twitter might index the freshest content. Google will still index and display the most relevant information. Just ask Microsoft how hard it is to compete with Google. I bet you would spend much more time finding relevant information on Twitter than on Google.

Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

I know, it’s a stretch. Twitter won’t challenge Google any time soon. In fact, you can argue that they’re two completely different animals. However, it’s the potential of Twitter that I’m looking at and I think it’s huge. Conversation search is the future and Twitter has the first step down.

Alex Schleber on March 27th, 2009

Recently I’ve been finding that Google’s results are just very stale when it comes to stuff going on right then (example: finding people posting their SXSWi panel notes online). Google’s authority algorithm, without an option for Timeline sorting or similar, really lags behind Twitter’s usefulness on this.

Plus if you use Search.twitter.com skillfully for RT marker’s etc. you get an additional recommendation filtering effect, which is as of yet not being gamed in the way that SEO is on Google.

Timeline is key, and even though I’d hate for it to happen, if Microsoft were to buy Twitter (& then not screwing it up the way they are prone to do), I could actually see that as the last possible move for Microsoft to catch up with Google in Search. Imagine if live.com (or an appropriately rebranded site) were to show 5+ Twitter results at the top of the heap by default (with option to minimize or turn off)?

This could be a game changer. You can do the same right now in Firefox with a Greasemonkey script/plugin for Google searches, but it’s still to cumbersome to install for mainstream users.

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TJ @ Smart Blog Tips on March 12th, 2009

There is no doubt that Twitter represent a significant portion of Online Community. However i feel its too early to termed it as a Search Engine or for that matter a Google Killer.

Google competes in the Internet Arena at a very fundamental level. Where as Social media sites are still on a secondary or tertiery level and dont be competing directly unless there is a huge paradigm shift.

Just my 2 cents. Actually I was palnning to write the opposite side of the story.


Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

Hey TJ,
That’s fair to say. I agree with you that it’s way to early to coin Twitter as a search engine. But I think it has all of the data and systems to become one – especially with social media gaining prominence and the web becoming more and more of a community rather than an informational resource (Google’s strength).

Laurie on March 27th, 2009

I’d value seeing and reading your ‘opposite side of the story’ post.

Erica on March 12th, 2009

I will agree that the social aspects of Twitter are amazing and you can find out a lot of valuable information especially geographically. However, I don’t know that I see it becoming a search engine… though there are millions of people on Twitter, there are millions who are not, and those who only use it sporadically; they will keep the search engines very busy.

Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

I don’t think it’ll be a conventional search engine that you think of (like Google). Instead, it’ll be more of a social conversation search engine – where you can mine info from the millions of people around, and that pool will continue to grow as the service becomes more popular.

Eric Hamm | Motivate Thyself on March 12th, 2009

I love this post. I think Twitter has amazing potential and I love your points! Especially the fact that Twitter keeps it to 140 characters or less. This is great for our skimming society that doesn’t want to have to read through pages of content to find what they want. Thanks for the thought provoking post. Eric

Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

Thanks Eric! I agree.. sometimes brevity is a beautiful thing. There’s more and more information released every day but the number of hours in a day remain the same.

Gobala Krishnan on March 12th, 2009

I think the 6 reasons are pretty much made up. It’s sad there’s nothing better to talk about right now than Twitter.

Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

Hey Gobala,
The reasons aren’t made up. I thought they were valid reasons of why Twitter has legit long term potential as a search engine. Care to explain your thoughts on the matter?

Haha, you may be getting sick of Twitter but people are talking about it because it’s noteworthy.

Barry Welford on March 12th, 2009

I very much agree with the thrust of this article. However I don’t see them as direct competitors. They are each dealing with very different online Webs. Twitter will clearly not try to out-google Google. Equally Google should not try to out-twitter Twitter.

Google’s most successful mission in business terms would be to focus, focus, focus on its Universal Web Search and forget trying to catalogue all knowledge in the universe. The latter is just a macho appetite for size at whatever cost.

Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

Hey Barry,
Great points. I agree that Google and Twitter represent two different types of search engines. However, with the Internet becoming more and more social, I think that for certain queries, people will resort to the social conversation search that Twitter offers – which will then cut into Google’s search share.

David Sparks on March 12th, 2009

All due respect, this is pretty much absurd.

absolutely impossible that google need fear twitter surpassing it. and if it gained a huge chunk of the search market like youtube did, google would just buy it.

1. social networking and taking that to a new level has nothing to do with the purpose of search engines, how theyre used or who uses them. google is also easy to understand where as the majority of america does not “get” twitter.

2. if you’re searching a popular keyword using something like monitter the thing updates so fast its hard to even use it. thats over load. this statement is also based on the fact that people actually read everything on the the pages they enjoy and frequent. reading habit and eye tracking studies reaveal people skim read on the internet. so no, nobody has time to read everything on the internet and nobody has time to read the things theyre “reading” on the internet. so when using something like monitter to track what you’re looking for thats updated frequently, you end up skimming that exactly the same way you would a web page.

3. for sites that have high rankings, real time content pops up just as fast. if you search for todays topics and its on the NYT site, itll pop up that day. the argument here would be that twitter provides real time conversation you can interact with. thats the difference but again. this is not what search engines are used for

4 & 5 combined. the masses are no more trustworthy than anybody else on the web. and these masses are getting their information from these lone sources most of the time and simply reproducing what the search engines find or what their rss feed dictates.

6. i search my city + topic all the time and it brings up what im looking for all the time. facebook renders some searches with location priority. its only a matter of time before google takes more advantage of this and they already do in some cases.

twitter can be a search engine for somethings but its not the same as google thus posing no real threat but an alternative result. the 2 cant be compared. especially considering how many more people use facebook than twitter and how many more people use google than facebook. the difference is huge.

Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

Hey David,
I agree with you that Google and Twitter are completely different animals and represent different types of search engines. As such, they can’t be compared directly – it’s difficult to compare apples with oranges. However, just because they’re different doesn’t mean they can’t compete. As Twitter gains in popularity, it has the potential to take away market share from Google for certain queries that are better off with the “social aspect”. Does that make sense?

wholinks2you on March 12th, 2009

nice info about Twitter

Search Engine Snark on March 12th, 2009

Twitter is content (and scarce content at that), twitter is not search – and adding search functionality does not make something a search engine. Even adding better search functionality to their site (perhaps instituting an algorithm other than the most recent tweets with any one of any given terms you search for) won’t make twitter a search alternative. A supplement at the absolute most.

Further discussion of why Twitter has nothing to do with search here:
http://www.searchenginesnark.com/online-marketing/twitter-is-not-a-sea rch-engine/

Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

Hey Snark,
Thanks for the feedback, but I would have to disagree. While Twitter does house its own content – the content represents so much including news, links, opinions, etc. It’s not necessarily the content itself that’s valuable, it’s what the content represents and refers to.

That being said, it’s a much different type of search engine than Google and I think you’re right – it will be a supplement. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be a legit search engine that may eventually cut Google’s market share.

Search Engine Snark on March 13th, 2009

…but the content itself is virtually unsearchable because of all the noise and useless posts and search results that bury any hope of finding useful ones. The search examples I provided later are just the tip of the iceburg. If Twitter grows to 100 million users, there’s going to a lot more noise – not less. The opinions are already being buried behind chatter, as are the links – except those from spammers.

I would say that in terms of search, Twitter could be a Yahoo Answers or TripAdvisor (neither of which is a great threat to Google or its search traffic), which follow the human-generated recommendation description that you favor – but even that’s a stretch because at 140 characaters, even the best of search algorithms aren’t going to be able to do much to determine what a post is about and how it relates to your query. It’s a broadcast instant message platform, not a place where people go to strictly dole out useful and helpful information.

Twitter could very easily change our lives – but I don’t see it changing search.

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Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Yep, I agree that there will be a ton of noise. But again, I’m judging Twitter completely on its potential. The technology will have to be spectacular in order to filter out the clutter and return the most relevant useful information.

terry@charlotte real estate on March 12th, 2009

I see an impact for Twitter on someting like the example given: where to go to dinner tonight… but I think it is limited to that. I don’t ask my friends research questions, I like experts. What it does do is combine two favorite things- keeping up with their friends and texting. But I don’t see how an improved search algorythm does that much.

Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

Hey Terry,
What’s your definition of an “expert”? Is it whoever Google tells you is an expert? A problem with Google search is that Google (a bunch of algorithms and search robots) determines what’s authoritative and what’s not. With Twitter, you know exactly who you’re dealing with. For example, if you follow an SEO expert and ask him a question, you’re going to trust that answer a lot more than blindly performing the same query in Google.

Nicole Chow on March 12th, 2009

I think people will always rely on Google for search but may turn to Twitter as a second opinion or as Search Engine Snark said, ‘a supplement’. Recently, I wanted to know about the UAC on my PC (Vista user) and the information I was reading from Google didn’t satisfy me. So, I tweeted my question and within seconds, I got 3 answers from my tweeple. They were all honest and quite helpful – which is much more than I can say from the info Google was spitting out to me. So while Google may never be ‘out of a job’, it may get some heated competition from Twitter.

Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

Thanks Nicole for that great example. While Google will continue to dominate for most of the factual queries, Twitter will steal market share for some of the other searches that are better off with the social component (e.g. opinions, reviews, etc).

Search Engine Snark on March 12th, 2009

There’s a lot of talk about Twitter being a recommendation engine who’s information is rich enough to drive search traffic away from the search engines.

Do me a favor: Go to search.twitter.com and search for ‘dallas hotel’ I don’t know about you, but I’m not seeing anything that resembles a recommendation, save for a clear shill site.

Do the same for ‘dallas restaurant’. ‘Movie review’. ‘How I Met Your Mother.’ Nothing resembling useful or helpful information. Is it possible that there could be? Sure, on occassion. But from a spot check there’s not nearly enough reliable or even useful information to make it something that has the potential to draw traffic away. Perhaps be a supplement, but it’s not going to steal traffic from anywhere as long as its content is in scant bits and pieces and its search functions are based solely on terms being in the post with no consideration to reliability or authority. As long as it’s Twitter, the format of the posts can’t change, and as long as it’s a social beast it can’t actually hold one profile up above another.

Remember that the experts also said Myspace was here to stay, and that Facebook would be everyone’s homepage by this time next year. Twitter as a messaging and social medium can absolutely make a huge impact – but it can also accomplish that without having to be a search engine.

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Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

I’m not saying that Twitter right now has what it takes to be a solid search engine – it doesn’t. All of your examples are valid and you’re right.. none of those queries bring up relevant results in Twitter. However, I’m judging Twitter search mainly based on its potential. With all of that data and information.. so much can be done. It’s just a matter of creating the right technology and mining the data properly to return better results. How will this be done? This article offers of good idea for a start.. http://www.blogstorm.co.uk/if-google-did-twitter-search/1978/

Search Engine Snark on March 13th, 2009

Good thoughts all, but missing a few salient points.

-Relevance: 140 characters is far too little to be able to judge what a block of text is about, let alone weight it. Case in point: That sentence was 123 characters – barely enough to establish a thought, let alone be helpful – you need a much wider range of content to establish that. You could let people add tags or categorization to their posts, but considering that it’s used for quick interaction I don’t see it getting wide use.

-RR: ReTweet isn’t even an official designation from Twitter and doesn’t even have to mention the source of the retweet. Even if it did, this would be easily expoloitable by spammers.

-TrustRank: If the number of followers is all that will determine authority, Twitter will get a LOT spammier.

-Conversation Density: You’d need to be able to thread conversations for them to be of any use. Otherwise, any single back-and-forth tweet that winds up being seen as the most relevant could easily be one that’s useless for search purposes.

All in all, there’s not enough information to build relevance for a topic and no easily exploitable way of assigning authority.

Venkatesh on March 23rd, 2009

Releveance – Tweets irreleavant? If 140 char aint enough, jus link to a web page.
Trust rank – Authority on twiiter will take time to define.

Gerald Weber on March 12th, 2009

Yes I believe that Twitter has a powerful real time search feature that is very attractive compared to older search results (Google) that have been indexed for days or week. The main difference right now is that Google is a mature company and Twitter is still in it’s infancy. It will be interesting to see what the future holds. As the author of this post states I also believe Twitter does have what it takes to show Google some competition down the line.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Hey Gerald,
Thanks for the comments. You’re totally right that Google is a mature company whereas Twitter is still in its infancy. All of this is still speculation but based on potential I think Twitter has what it takes to take away some market share from Google for certain queries.

Gerald Weber on March 13th, 2009

I agree it’s possible in fact I have a similar post on my blog 5 Reasons Why Google Should Fear (or Buy) Twitter I’m simply saying that I think Twitter will need to mature a bit and I think it will be in a position to give big G a run for their money with the real time search. They just have to get past some of the initial growing pains first. 😉

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Simon Mason on March 13th, 2009

If Twitter survives it will win long term. Why? Because humans trust humans more than they trust machines.

Three months ago I didn’t have a Twitter account. 1 month ago I had never used Twitter search. Now it is where I search first – OK a lot of the time I have to go and search at google or technorati – but currently Twitter only has a few million active users, when its active users number in the 100s of millions almost every topic will be covered in depth.

Actually what will probably happen is an app or platform which will search google, technorati, digg, twitter etc concurrently and return results from all of them. (Someone will have a lot of fun working out ranking systems). And from where we are standing it looks most likely that google will buy whoever it needs to so it can provide this type of service.

Whatever the future of search holds it will be increasingly driven by the human content constantly uploaded to social networks which can only be a good thing.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Hey Simon, thanks for the very insightful comment. I agree with you that people trust humans more than machines. As search evolves and technology becomes more advanced, the social component of the Internet will become increasingly important. In other words, Twitter will have its place in search.

Search Engine Snark on March 13th, 2009

Actually what will probably happen is an app or platform which will search google, technorati, digg, twitter etc concurrently and return results from all of them.

Google (and for that matter, Yahoo and MSN) already does this. Information from all of these sources are indexed and searchable.

Nate at Plasticprinters on March 13th, 2009

I don’t think I agree with you on this. I think you make good points but Twitter is really focused on tech savvy users where the older demographics shy away from it. Alot of our customers have trouble understanding basic internet standards, let alone Twittering.


Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Hey Nate,
That’s a valid point, but that’s what people said about Microsoft 20 years ago.. and Google 10 years ago, and look where they are now. It might seem like a “tech savvy users only” thing now but in the near future it’ll become a common tool.

Listorbit on March 13th, 2009

I think GOOGLE is going to buy Twitter in near future…

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Good call. I agree. I think Google can’t afford NOT to buy Twitter because social conversation search is going to be big it’s one thing online Google doesn’t have a foot hold in.

Collin - Affiliate Marketing on March 13th, 2009

There is a Million reasons why Google is set to go down hill. They have spent so much time developing the PPC side of there search engine that the content side just sucks. Everyday when I research idea’s for a new websites you should see the results I find – I would be embarrassed if I was Google.Like honestly – how does a website that is 10 years old rank in the number 1 spot for a topic that site posted on 10 years ago (which is completely outdated)Being current topics and current information puts Twitter and a huge advantage.

I have also noticed a big increase with the costs involved in doing PPC on Adwords. Why? I am sure a big part of the reason is people are sick of over paying and having to deal with a ton of quality related issues and are moving there campaigns to where the traffic is – like Facebook.

Explain to me this – why would I pay 3 to 4 bucks a click for the keyword “Weight Loss” to only maybe get a few thousand impressions a day when I can go and advertise on MSNBC and pay 1 dollar per click and get 100k impressions in an hour (that actually happened to me)with a better conversion rate then in adwords.

Even more so – basing a sites popularity around links is just retarded. There search engine is still based around spammers and there ability to build low quality links fast.In affiliate marketing no one in there right mind would trade links with any other site because we are all trying to rank for the same terms. So – getting links to our sites naturally will never happen. There is only one way to get links!!!

I tell ya – some days it can be very frustrating dealing with Google and all there policy’s which is why so many webmasters are looking elsewhere to do business.

I think twitter being current topics and current information will beat out all search engines in time or you will see search engines trying to copy what twitter is doing.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Hey Collin, great point! Thanks for sharing. Ten years ago, the link-based search algorithm was revolutionary. It offered a lot more relevant results than the previous search engines which were based primarily on on-page content. However, times are changing again and the Internet is shifting to a social model – which is great news for communities like Twitter and Facebook.

My prediction is that social search is the next step in the evolution of search. Unless Google adapts and embraces these chances, the door is wide open for a competitor (like Twitter) to step in and take away market share.

Nick Stamoulis on March 13th, 2009

I don’t think either one will ever defeat the other because they are used for much different purposes but if Google and Twitter put their heads together and allowed a feature where you can see who on Twitter is directly associated with the keyword a person just typed in and they could tweet them directly from the search result now that would be amazing.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Hey Nick,
You’re right. One doesn’t necessarily have to defeat the other one. Google and Twitter are very different and could be used in different ways. However, with the Internet becoming more and more social I think Twitter will start to be used as a conversation search engine – which will cut into Google’s market share for certain queries.

As for putting their heads together, that would be great. I’m sure Google is secretly salivating to buy up Twitter. Facebook tried it and was shot down.

Fyre Vortex on March 15th, 2009

I strongly believe that Twitter will not defeat Google. While Twitter is great for learning new trends, knowing what’s happening right now in the world, getting news half a hour/a hour earlier than the traditional media, it can still not defeat the traditional way of searching.

You cannot search the web using Twitter. Need to find a site about potato recipes? You can Google it. In Twitter, there *is* a chance of finding a link there, but 1)Google is easier and faster. 2)You might get unrelated discussion along the way of the search. 3)The links might not be authentic.

My $0.02 on this subject.

Gyutae Park on March 18th, 2009

Hey Fyre,
Fair enough.. The way it stands now, you’re absolutely correct. Google is superior in technology and is faster for most queries (like your potato recipe example). However, that could easily change as social search matures and develops over the years. We’ll see what happens!

Jacques @ SEO Tools South Africa on March 15th, 2009

Twitter is being widely touted as the next Google, and who would’ve thought it would come from this source when twitter was first launched? As you say, the link based algorithm is yesterdays technology, and the social aspect of search is the next best thing, which twitter is finely poised to take advantage of. I’m watching this with interest, whilst realizing that it is important to get active on twitter ASAP!

Gyutae Park on March 18th, 2009

Yep, you hit the nail on the head. Social search is the next step with the search engines and you can see Google adapting with Search Wiki (without much success). We’ll see what happens, but like you said the best thing we can do now is to get involved and ride the wave.

Sabre on March 15th, 2009

I don’t think one company or social network will take Google out of first place.
It will be a hundred smaller more tightly focused networks or companies.
Twitter may just be the first shot.

Gyutae Park on March 18th, 2009

I agree. Twitter is the first company of the social search evolution. Who knows what could come up next. Much like Microsoft was threatened by the Internet and Google, Google will likely be threatened by social search and Twitter.

Bloggeries on March 15th, 2009

If Twitter is the “Future of Search” the future is already here. I know from personal experience that I use twitter before google for almost anything that is time sensitive. I’ll use google for more static searches(still a massive portion) but anything time sensitive it’s straight to Twitter.

Gyutae Park on March 18th, 2009

Thanks for that great example. As social search becomes more effective and popular, more and more people will do what you just described. Trouble brewing for Google.

Laurence Flynn on March 16th, 2009

Have to disagree with you very strongly but you can find out why when I write about it in a few days. This post gives me an excellent reference point though and will be linking to it. 😀

You can’t honestly say that you can keep up with 1500 followers. It would take a full time job and it would be a complete waste of time. And there is only one reason someone follows thousands of people and we all know what that is. 😉

Gyutae Park on March 18th, 2009

Hey Laurence,
Looking forward to your post. Send me a note when you’re done with it. And of course links are much appreciated. 🙂

As for followers, I group them all into different groups so I can focus on people important to me and scan the rest. Tweetdeck is an amazing tool. Try it out.

Rahman Mehraby 4 SEO Services on March 16th, 2009


Congratulations on writing such a controversial post! I enjoyed the post and specially the comments following it.

Although there’s a long way to see any substitution, if possible at all, it’s interesting to talk about the potential of Twitter in an impartial way.

I think as the result of several different emarketing channels are searched and found in organic search engine results, search engines are very strongly established. I don’t see any possibility toward such substitution that some talk about. Search engine marketing is growing day by day and could take benefit from Twitter, but won’t give way to it!

Gyutae Park on March 18th, 2009

Thanks Rahman. I knew the article would be controversial but it’s very interesting to read the different opinions on here. Search is quickly changing so we’ll have to see what happens.

Dali Burgado on March 16th, 2009

I think this is a very creative and quite plausible theory! This is the thinking and mindset of a visionary. While other commentors like our friend Shark have valid points. I can see the vision.

Collin also brings up some interesting things as well when it concerns not finding what you are looking for in organic search engines.

Very much like Simon, I also go to Twitter for the latest tech news. It’s in real time and comes from trusted sources. I don’t want to waste precious time lollygagging around searching for news when I can get it from trusted sources.

Excellent and thought provoking article, my friend.
I appreciate you.
Dali Burgado

Gyutae Park on March 18th, 2009

Hey Dali,
Thanks so much for the very kind words. It’s very interesting to see how search is evolving and I think this is the next step – social conversation search. User behavior (such as in your example) is changing and search engines will have to adapt to keep up. Cheers!

Melvin on March 17th, 2009

wow, I just can’t imagine how twitter can grow more in future and how it will look like…

Gyutae Park on March 18th, 2009

Scary to think this is only the beginning, eh?

heri on March 17th, 2009

great article, here’s another take which adds upon the 6 points outlined here

http://blog.iweb.com/en/2009/03/twitter-search-the-best-sales-tool-sin ce-google-adwords/2265.html

Twitter Search, the most promising marketing tool since Google Adwords

Gyutae Park on March 18th, 2009

Twitter is very promising indeed – as a social networking tool and search platform. Not to mention, Twitter will soon be selling ads on the site, so that opens up even more opportunities.

Michael Benidt on March 19th, 2009

Hi Gyutae,

We just ran into a perfect illustration of your Point #5 and blogged about it on our business blog – http://tinyurl.com/twitgoogle

We got reliable information from a trusted source in less time than it would have taken to vet Google’s clearly questionable results.

Thanks for a great summary of Twitter search. May not be a Google Killer – but it’s clearly an intriguing addition to search.

Gyutae Park on March 23rd, 2009

Hey Michael,
Awesome example of a case where Twitter wins out over Google. Thanks! I’ll be using your post for future examples.

Philip Reynolds on March 21st, 2009

Great article and we agree Twitter has great potential with search and I will interested to know what you think of what we are doing with an aggregated search see as an example http://m.tearn.com/

Alan Blewieiss on March 22nd, 2009

I’ll throw my 2 cents in for the fact that it’s a new way to cull data and find tidbits of useful information. And yet the fact remains that it’s too cluttered with white noise to be of real use in all but a handful of situations in its current form.

If there were a way to flag your posts as “personal noise” or “relevant information” and that could be quality scored, perhaps there might one day be a valid use in the search arena that even begins to meet some portion of the needs currently served by Google.

Until that day though, who knows – and too, I expect that the power that comes from Google that has made it the stand-alone best solution for business related search will never be supplanted by a Twitter type solution because there’s no valid method for Twitter to provide results that say “these are the best web sites for your needs” other than based on popularity.

While popularity works for some segments of what people are looking for, Google has validated that it’s a flawed concept when they de-valued their own use of page rank.

Gyutae Park on March 23rd, 2009

Hey Alan,
Good points. There’s a ton of noise on Twitter right now and they’ll really need to clean up the search results in order to gain widespread use. Right now the potential is there, but the technology isn’t.

As for Google, they’re already serving up Twitter search results in their own search results. Does that tell you anything?

Michael Bauser on March 22nd, 2009

Everybody here knows that reason #5 doesn’t scale, right?

Or maybe not, since nobody’s pointed that out yet. Newbies.

Gyutae Park on March 23rd, 2009

Why wouldn’t #5 (more trustworthy results) scale? Twitter is a huge network but you can still choose who you follow. The more you use Twitter, the more connection you make – which will then give you a large pool of trustworthy people to get info from.

Peter Young on March 22nd, 2009

Agreed Bauser – Especially if you ask Skittles 🙂

On the whole though – its a good thought provoking argument, however on a personal level, I am not sure Twitter as a whole can scale to the extent it would need to to compete directly against Google (or against other engines long term).

As a couple of people, at present the two are ‘physically’ and culturally different, and it is a bit like comparing apples with pears.

Just my two pence/cents.

Gyutae Park on March 23rd, 2009

Hey Peter, thanks for the input. Right now, Twitter is a good supplement to Google, but search as a whole is evolving towards social. Much like Google revolutionized the search industry with a link-based PageRank algorithm, Twitter is set to do the same with social conversation search. We’ll see how far it goes, but right not it look promising.

yvonh on March 22nd, 2009

I consider Twitter as a “middleware” not a social platform, I don’t think it could exist alone. As long as Twitter is an information pool we can tap into to extract trends, it s a marvellous tool, I’ll be curious to see how they will expand the service because I see no bright future for Twitter alone, it should be bought by bigger fish.

Gyutae Park on March 23rd, 2009

If Google was smart, they’d buy up Twitter and somehow incorporate it into their search algorithm rather than rely on something like SearchWiki. Facebook tried to buy Twitter for $500 million but was quickly shot down.

John on March 22nd, 2009

Google and Twitter are two different searches. Google searches everything on the WWW, but Twitter searches only its own logs. If I want web pages I would go for Google, but if I want the web pages that people are interacting with right now then I would use Twitter.

A lot of comments here suggest that Twitter should be devoured by a bigger fish. That would only serve to stifle innovation.

Gyutae Park on March 23rd, 2009

Hey John,
You’re right. Google searches the WWW and Twitter searches conversation in its own logs. However, many people drop links in their tweets and as technology advances, why wouldn’t Twitter be able to crawl these links and determine relevance/authority?

Iaax Page on March 22nd, 2009

Great work, I jut happen to agree with you 100% Last night we had a cancun’s twitteres gathering and I was telling this to my fellow twitterers, however, most of them are still in the position of taking twitter as an entertainment tool, a vanity tool.

I hope your post will help’em realize!

Iaax Page

Gyutae Park on March 23rd, 2009

Hey Iaax,
Thanks for the share, I appreciate that. Twitter is getting big and it’s really amazing how fast it’s grown over the past couple of years. Twitter is essentially going to become the conversation of the web – used for entertainment, communication, business, etc.

Mark Essel on March 22nd, 2009

Although I agree with you Gyutae Park, I wonder if twitter search is still weighing new results too heavily. What happened to the great information that was tweeted last year or was around before twitter?

I posted some thoughts on belonging, and social indexing in my link.

Gyutae Park on March 23rd, 2009

Hey Mark,
Twitter search is currently very basic and doesn’t have the features necessary to weight content appropriately. The potential is there but the technology has to keep up.

Mark Essel on March 24th, 2009

I just caught up on comments (great info) and http://www.yauba.com/ does has some promise as a tool using weighted results from Google and the twitter stream. Very exciting times for internet search optimization, before you know it search will find what I want in real time as I focus my thoughts on particular information.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Turina on March 23rd, 2009

Very interesting post, at first I couldn’t agree with some of it as being relevant to the present set up, but after reading through the comments and the follow up from you Mr Park, I have to say I’m starting to see the ‘possible’ future of Twitter.

I have tried the Twitter search, and it has a lot to be desired, and for me, not really too relevant. I can see the potential in the future, as one of the masses, of being in touch, at a more or less personal level with, well, the Twitterverse. I mean personal, relevant search results, in real time, now that’s something to stick around for.

Gyutae Park on March 23rd, 2009

Glad I could change your mind a bit, Turina. 🙂

Personal, relevant search results in real time… that’s the end goal whether or not Twitter provides it. We’ll get there eventually. Twitter is a good first step.

Tony Zelinko on March 23rd, 2009

Twitter “ROCKS”
Please forgive me If I sound a little zealous about twitter. I’m sorry I missed it for so long. The assumption that google is the 100lb gorilla is correct. It will take both the incorporation of a great search tool and a socially connected media platform like twitter to compete in the long run.
Here is why The human psyche is hard wired to receive and interpret information and also we exist to reproduce. Believe it or not twitter has the potential to do all of these. You can connect socially and grow emotionally and develop a stronger self confidence. You can can gather information instantaneously by tweets, assimilate and connect parts of your brain you normally don’t use. Also you can find a mate if connecting on line, twitter will be the next big dating site, due to it’s non phony and open method.
One more thing The collective wisdom that is derived from the use of social media will essentially improve the human intelligenc across the board.
Well I probably said enough follow me at http://twitter.com/bontemedical

Gyutae Park on March 23rd, 2009

Wow, you pretty much hailed Twitter as the savior of the world there.. lol.

kevin moreland on March 23rd, 2009

I was a twitter skeptic. I set myself a two week challenge to use it . It is truly revolutionary.

Gyutae Park on March 23rd, 2009

That’s the reaction I see from a lot of people actually. They’re skeptical at first. Then they use it and the see it in a different light. I was the same way.

Waterhog on March 23rd, 2009

Interesting post although personally I disagree. I trust google for all of searching needs as well as analytical data and will continue to do so in the future.

Whether everybody else does remains to be seen.

Gyutae Park on March 23rd, 2009

Google is still king for most informational searches, but Twitter is gaining ground as a conversation search tool. We’ll see what happens.

Joe on March 23rd, 2009


Gyutae Park on March 23rd, 2009

That’s like saying conversation or networking is a waste of time. As the saying goes, it’s not what you know it’s who you know. Twitter is just another tool to help you connect with others and improve your productivity as a result.

Aniket Arora on March 23rd, 2009

I think this would b great to have Twitter as a search engine but it would take years to compete with google since it has not reached so far.

Google has covered so much and people generally get what they want so why change priorities?

Google and Twitter (search engine) (as it is planned) will work differently. so both will have their own market (or may be Twitter can take away some from google).

I would surly like to see Twitter giving me results for my searches..
All the very Best guys!!

Gyutae Park on March 23rd, 2009

Agreed. It will definitely be years before Twitter seriously competes against Google, if at all. However, this new development is the first step in a long evolution towards social search. The search industry should be very interesting to watch in the next few years!

Aniket Arora on March 24th, 2009

Very true Mr.Gyutae Park, even I am very interested to see this development growing and becoming a big picture but still i must say you cannot simplly avoid the presence of Google and I am sure one cannot replace Google at all.
As far as “Twitter Search Engine” is concerned it would be another source of searching and the important aspect is what do you want to search and from where do you get fulfilled your requirements, whether it is Google, twitter or anything else.
I’m really interested to watch the development.
All the Best to developers!!

Miguel on March 24th, 2009

The arguements in this post are totally retarded
I don’t see how twitter “Takes social to a whole new level”. What does that even mean!? The example used is pathetic, since no one searches the string “best restaurants in new york”!

Twitter does not fight information overload. If anything, makes it worse.

There is way too much emphasis on real-time content as if that is a good thing. Real-time content has no value. It just is.

The possible fact that twitter represents the masses is possibly part of the problem. What one wants is intelligent use, not mass representation. If anything, that polutes the search rather than filtering it.

It is possible that with the right network – which can take years to develop – twitter would provide more trustworthy results. But at what cost?

Alan Blewieiss on March 24th, 2009

You say “nobody searches “best restaurants in new york”

Apparently you are not a seasoned SEO professional. According to the Google keyword tool, the average annual search volume for “best restaurants New York” is 12,100 searches, and “best restaurant New York” adds another 6600.

So either you are correct, which means that Google is intentionally committing fraud, or your basis for slamming this article is off its rocker.

LiveCrunch on March 24th, 2009

Not bad blog post, I agree to some extend of this text. Yes you can ‘find out’ about certain stuff faster, more accurate than any search engine because twitter is humanized. BUT!

Again Twitter can’t give me specific details on some other things like for example spec’s about new laptops or specs about Tmobile G1, iPhone (yes I can read 140 tweets 100’s of them! but not specific to what I was searching for) I end up on tweet that somebody writes: YO checkout the lenovo specs http://www.tinyurl.com/myass 🙂

social networking san diego on March 24th, 2009

i would have to agree 100% think of twitter as your personalized Google search on steroids (real time) cheers
twitterholic justinrfrench

VlogHog on March 28th, 2009

Twitter, so far, is only a communication tool. That’s it.
Google has nothing to fear.

PB - BayshoreBlogger on March 31st, 2009

I think Twitter is very interesting and a great marketing tool. With all the automation and integration with blogs, Facebook and other online social media, it is becoming more powerful to communicate business news and promotions. I know as an internet marketer, I am definitely recommending Twitter to my clients more and more every day. Great post, thank you!

Mark Disilva on April 7th, 2009

Hey! Good post. Twitter is the best but as far as search engine concern, Google still my first choice just because of the more relevant results they shown in SERP’s

vincent on April 7th, 2009

excellent post!
Can I translate this post into Chinese and post in my blog,of course in Chinese and the main meaning not word by word.and i will link to your blog with this post link in the end of the translation version

P.T.Morgan on April 9th, 2009

I was referred to this site by my marketing guy that’s in love with SMM. I am not, and especially not Twitter. That you can say that Twitter helps REDUCE information overload is rediculous. I follow my aforementioned marketing guy, and for instance, on the 6th, I got six tweets from him. I see that you have 1,732 followers. If they sent you an average of 1 tweet a day, I’d say that would contribute to significant information overload. If they sent just one a week, that would ONLY be about 250 per day. I don’t want — no, I cannot — read 250 messages a day, especially when most of them are inane comments about mowing the grass, or having a BLT. So I’ve got to assume that most people do not read most of the tweets directed at them and so how much of a network is that? I just don’t get it.

Ecommerce Technical Team on April 10th, 2009

Twitter is the Future of Ecommerce positioning from marketing and traffic trends.

Randall on April 15th, 2009

Another game-changer, while we are not out to defeat Google. I did read their book 😉

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Business: Your local business can list free for local search. List not only your business, but all your brands and inventory with our new “Your Inventory” bulk spreadsheet up-loader. This tool helps people search for items locally by shortest-distance. Create and save your own html header and footer for use on all ads. This is free too!
We sell upgrades that allow up to 75,000 characters, 17 pics, web links and Youtube embeds. We are planning more cool upgrades!

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Can adbirds.com do more? Let us know.

Right now we are running a cool contest designed to help charitable organizations and increase the number of ads during our Grand Opening. We will give a dollar and ad to favorite charities listed by the advertisers, and a thousand dollars to the organization garnering the most new users.

Smart Boy Designs on April 21st, 2009

Although I don’t beleive Google is leaving anytime soon – I do believe Twitter does bring an entirely different “real life” social aspect to search. It’s amazing to use Twitter as a current search function, and see what’s trending.

Twitter on May 22nd, 2009

you could also search from Twiogle.com to get twitter and google results on the same page.

Jeff "twitter traffic" Bode on June 25th, 2009

Twitter search is a great research tool, it’s great for finding potential customers, product ideas and information, potential JV partners and best of all for staying up on new ideas and trends…

Wes on June 25th, 2009

What a great post,
u hit the button Gyuetae!
Google may not be social as twitter however if you search for a term in google, it does display different options ranging from website,to blogs,to social sites like youtube or squidoo lenses or maps etc within SERP and of course the sponsored links. And this diversity is about to grow, the suggestions during keyword tying,plus advance search make it valuable enough to find. The weighing must change more to fresh content versus linking power,but linking power and socialbility factors,plus other authority factors can´t be beaten by twitter so far. And remember we-the twitter users are still a tiny minority even compare to MySpace not to mention Facebook who is still growing by its own right.Outside the US is twitter tiny like a bird and a whale.Many twitters alike may impose a danger to google,but I believe google isn´t comparable to Microsoft back then,because Google is a part of the internet revolution and community unlike Microsoft who came from the old corporate structures and thinking of the old days.
Twitter is an interesting tool, supplement and a fresh social media tool possible of lot of things,but I recently read an article i think it was on buzzmarkeitng for technology where they question the continuation growth and the underlying challenges.
Another important aspect in the evolution of Twitter is the fact that teenagers are not the driving force behind it.A recent study conducted has found that a lot of teens do not use it,know about it or can´t see the benefit over SMS or Instant Messaging and these are the original 140 characterholics worldwide.Every tech revolution is carried out by the tennies, espc in the tech world.They understand google, MS Office,mobile apps,iphones,facebook,myspace better and faster then th older folks like me,they socialize all over,all the time,now this group doesn´t got love for twitter like it should?
Honestly, many of us do act like they fully understand the value of twitter now, although only very few really do, i.e. Delloutlet making millions already selling to other twitterers only.
Twitter is not a search engine threat per se,its a lot, only the the next 2-3 years will let us see,if they can grow geographically to meaningful size, MYSpace never won outside the US.If it will grow functionally integrating useful apps and if it might grow in attracting biz and youth love amongst other things.
at my company http://activagers.com a social network for 40plus years people, I a mabout to conduct a survey to find more data about the use and need of Twitter outside the hype.

Gladstone on July 2nd, 2009

Good Post. Followed till the end…

Davis on July 10th, 2009

I agree with you Gyutae. I believe that Twitter search engine might be able to stand at the same line with Google search engine as the growth of Twitter is extremely faster than any social site. I’m slow with Twitter, I’m going to build up my twitter followers.
Do you have any recommended twitter tool that helps to get targeted follower?

Master101 on July 30th, 2009

Well, i donno about competing with google. ‘though I agree that Twitter somehow become bigger and bigger each day. Talk about simplicity. It really help with growing networking for business/affiliate.

@Davis: here’s the program that wonderfully can add thousand of followers. Join it for free: http://followe.rs/eY

John Ramos on December 12th, 2009

Who paid you to write this article? Real time search is only relevant for a specific segment of the market. As humans we are hoarders and the most valuable information is never published online. For example I was trolling the internet in search of an example for a business case for a company I am launching related to searching and indexing Twitter information. I WAS NOT ABLE TO FIND 1 SINGLE BUSINESS CASE. You would think with thousands of companies that seek venture capital funding, even companies that failed to get funding. Nobody would ever publish their business cases. We live in a selfish society where information is power. Social Networks are misunderstood by people who have no lives that sit around all day long trying to live a certain lifestyle they failed to live in the real world.
If I want a restaurant review, I go to Zagat, Yelp, or other services such as that. Whats Popular “right now” doesnt mean anything, Popular to whom? and why is it Popular? because a couple of people are talking about it?

Chris on March 31st, 2010

Twitter is a good idea in that it gives everyone a chance to voice their opinion and make it easier for them to find the information they’re interested in.

Retro on May 24th, 2010

Good article

Roy Lopez on June 11th, 2010

there has been recently lots talk on facebook and twitter are real threat to google. But i think these three are totally different and have their own significance. Having said that if google succeeds to takeover any of these, it will take google to the next level.

Laurie Macomber on January 24th, 2011

Good thoughts – I don’t think I’d get an answer from Shaq if I asked on Twitter about the ‘real NBA’ though. I am hoping for a “TwinkGoogFace” solution, ultimately. The accessibility of Twitter to get a following going, the utility of Google to find quality sites and deep answers and the multi-media aspect of Facebook, for real time variety show type answers!

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