Twitter… The New Google Search

Google and Twitter Logos
Image by louisvolant via Flickr

For some people, Twitter is about sharing the happenings of their life.  In fact, Twitter has a tutorial video describing what Twitter is on their web site.  They even have as a tag line ‘What are you doing?’

This description and branding of Twitter has many people asking, ‘Why do I care about what other people are doing?’  In fact, there is a funny video depicting this.

Unfortunately, I think this is poor branding of the product.  I think the power and usefulness of Twitter is not in sharing what kind of sandwich I am eating while watching the late show with my cat.  Twitter is about sharing information.

How many people reading this post have ever used Google to search something – anything?  Probably every single one of you.  I am not suggesting that Twitter will replace Google as a primary search engine, but it will have significant impacts.  There are three key reasons why I believe Twitter is going to impact Google as a search engine:

  1. Recommended Content
  2. Real-time Information
  3. Improved Functionality

Recommended Content

How often has it happened that you’ve searched for a topic in Google and gone through several of results trying to find the exact content you need.  Google is only as good as its algorithm to position pages in their search result pages.  It is all quantitative.  There is no qualitative approach to positioning pages.

That’s where Twitter comes in.  I see the primary and most useful function of Twitter in sharing ideas and information.  When I see a link in someone’s tweet, I know that that person valued the information on that page enough to share it.  I have found a lot of valuable articles and ideas through other people’s tweets.  In fact most of my trending, strategic, and professional articles I read are from URLs I get from tweets. On that same note, when I come across a blog post in my RSS reader that I feel is valuable and worth sharing, I tweet about it in hopes that someone else will find it valuable.

Real-time Information

What of the great things about Twitter is the immediacy of it.  When  events occur (disasters, concerts, speeches, etc.), we can search for information as it happens either using #hastags or Twitter’s search engine.  Live news and events can be searched in real-time.

I tweeted about the presentations I heard at the Web Strategy Summit in Calgary at the beginning of May using the #wss hastag.  This allowed others at distance to follow along with presentations as they happened.

Being able to search real-time information on news, events, and other happenings speaks to the power of the Web and Twitter.

Improved Functionality

Up until now, Twitter search was limited to the actual tweets of people.  CNET reports that plans are in the works to extend the scope of Twitter search to include the actual web content of the shared links.

This crawling of shared URLs will give Google a run for their money.  We are always concerned with trends and the happening on the Web.  With this new functionality, we will be able to get real-time trends and happenings online – something that the current Google search engine fails to deliver.

What Does This All Mean?

I don’t imagine for a second that Google as a search engine will go away, but I believe for these reasons listed above (as well as others), we will see a shift in how Google search works and also an increase in Twitter search and possibly a rise in Twitter users for the real-time search capabilities.

Does Twitter have the attention of executives at Google? Well if you do a search for ‘google buy twitter’, you see many rumors floating around about the potetial merger.  Google may or may not buy Twitter, but it has defintely caught the attention of Google executives.  VON.com had an article from yesterday where Google co-founder Larry Page talked about Twitter:

“People really want to do stuff real time and I think they have done a great job about it,” Page said at Google’s Zeitgeist conference. “I think we have done a relatively poor job of creating things that work on a per-second basis.”

“There is a presumption that somehow you cannot have multiple solutions that co-exist,” Page said. “There is all sorts of stuff we can do. We do not have to buy everybody to work with them,” he added, referencing the rumor that Google would buy the micro-blogging site. “The whole principle of the Web is, people can talk to each other.”

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