SharePoint Nick

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Will Twitter ruin search for us all?

One of the pioneering things that the founders of Google realized was that people linked to good content – and part of their search ranking algorithm counted up incoming links from authoritative sources. It just so happened that as their search engine started taking off – blogging took hold and people loved generating more content, and linking to more pages and topics they liked.

Since I’ve been using Twitter I’ve certainly not been writing as much on my blog. Rather than taking the time to link to an interesting article and perhaps add my own comments around it I might just put out a tweet with the url. I’ve noticed that other people who’s blogs I follow aren’t writing as frequently as they used to be – but they are on Twitter all day letting us know what they are eating for lunch. Admittedly I follow a small selection of bloggers but I’m wondering if others are noticing the same.

So with people using Twitter to link to the content they like rather than writing blog posts what does this mean for Google and search? Of course links to content is only part of the algorithm, but if people aren’t linking as prominently to new content that is being published will it manage to rise above content that was written years ago?

Having just checked Twitter, with the work they are doing on scalability it does seem possible to go back and see all your old tweets, rather than just the past few months as it used to be. Perhaps the easy answer is for Google to be crawling Twitter – and if it is I’m sure they are already doing it!

Print | posted on Thursday, March 26, 2009 9:37 PM |



# re: Will Twitter ruin search for us all?

The other part of this is that URLs in twitter tweets are usually shortened with a url shortening service. Search engines use text in source hyperlinks in part of their algorithms fpr page ranking. How can google use that information if all links look like ""?
3/26/2009 11:16 PM | Adam Toth

# re: Will Twitter ruin search for us all?

It's an interesting observation and I think there is some truth to your observations. However, I've seen people blogging the same amount, but combining that with a constant flow of information throughout the day. Overall content is on the rise, not the decline.

However, even with that said I feel that Twitter is cutting into the use of Google because there are some difficult searches that are easy to answer on Twitter instead of hunting on google. The power of the masses to interpret your question in ways that Google's keyword search is part of the power of Twitter. Today, for example, I wanted to locate a tool to quickly write e-mails from Outlook into SharePoint. I tweet'ed my question and within 30 seconds had a response that as dead on. Not only did I find the right tool but I received a recommendation for the tool and found a new contact. All with one 140 character tweet.

If you're interested, you can read more about why everyone should be on twitter here:

3/26/2009 11:42 PM | John Moore

# re: Will Twitter ruin search for us all?

I think you've got a valid point. I'm certainly using Twitter a lot more, especially for real-time searches - eg. if other people in the same area are also experiencing slow internet speeds, or what they think about something on a TV show I'm watching. I'm pretty sure Google are indexing Twitter already, and if they can factor in the shortened links posted on there into their PageRank algorithm, that would definitely be useful.
3/26/2009 11:54 PM | Mun

# re: Will Twitter ruin search for us all?

I think it's just the pendulum swinging and eventually it will settle somewhere in the middle. I think your observation has some merit and although I don't bother with Twitter personally the positive side of it is that blogs shouldn't get so bloated with so much trivia.
3/27/2009 11:14 AM | Matt Taylor

# re: Will Twitter ruin search for us all?

I think Twitter is probably the most ridiculous technology out there. Tweeting, or "micro-blogging" as some attempted to coin it, takes a bumper-sticker approach to communications. There is no way to express a complex idea in a Twitter post, limited as you are to under 300 characters. So it's just a one-way chat window, broadcasting your shallowest thoughts and observations to the world. I don't think I have ever read a tweet that gave me anything useful to think about.

Don't get me wrong. Blog posts can be just as shallow as tweets. It's just that the format of Twitter keeps you shallow.
3/27/2009 6:04 PM | Moffitar

# re: Will Twitter ruin search for us all?

I agree, the postmodernist concept of fragmented reality is here and getting more tangible as time goes by. Snippets of ideas and stubs of normal human discourse are the new buzz... Yet I don't think Twitter could actually ruin search results, because there is still going to be demand (and supply hopefully as well) for complex and lengthier pieces of information.

As to the new vs. old content, it just turns out vice versa for me: whenever I look for updates on current events using a search engine and not a specific news site, I am constantly offered 1-2-year-old stuff... naturally, it takes time for new things to be indexed, but the frustration is still there.
4/10/2009 12:45 PM | A SharePoint Dreamer

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