Because Google search is ‘so last minute,’ Twitter search rolls out new features for right here, right now

Twitter is starting to roll out revisions to its search functions, long considered by tech cognoscenti as a laggard element of the micro-blogging service.

The San Francisco-based company announced several changes in a blog post on Friday, including a long-requested ability to search only within Twitter accounts that a user follows. For example, if Twitter users are looking for messages about the current Tour de France bicycle race, they can click a link to see tweets only from the people they follow, and not drown in tweets from the Twitterverse.

Twitter also is taking a page from Google search results by offering suggestions of results to users when they begin typing letters into the search box. Twitter also changed its search to show results even if a user misspells a term, and the service will make it easier to search for people within tweets.

“These updates make it even easier to immediately get closer to the things you care about,” Twitter engineer Frost Li wrote in Friday’s blog post.

If Twitter’s more than 140 million active monthly users conduct more searches on the service, the company also has a chance to show many more ads, and therefore juice its revenue. On many Twitter searches, the company serves up a very visible “promoted tweet”–what regular folks might call an ad–at the top of the search results.

A Twitter engineer, Pankaj Gupta, presaged the changes with an excited tweet of his own late Thursday. Search and discovery functions in Twitter were “set to change forever” after Friday, he posted. “Team – congrats and enjoy the enormity of ur impact few understand today!”

After Mr. Gupta set the bar high, some in the Twitter-sphere have been dismissive of the search changes out of the gate.

“Twitter search update sounds nice, but unless I can search back on all my tweets since I joined Twitter, I’m not that excited,” Mashable editor Lance Ulanoff posted Friday on Twitter. “Wait this…was the thing that would change search and discover forever?? Oh lordy,” tweeted Romit Mehta, a writer for Techie Buzz.

Here is Twitter’s blog post about the enhancements:

We’re constantly working to make Twitter search the simplest way to discover what’s happening in real time. To that end, today we’re introducing search autocomplete and ‘People you follow’ search results to twitter.com. In addition to recent improvements like related query suggestions, spelling corrections and more relevant search results, these updates make it even easier to immediately get closer to the things you care about.

Search autocomplete shows you the most likely terms for your query as you enter it — especially useful if you’re trying to follow the hashtag for an event or you’re looking for a certain Twitter account. You can select your query from the drop-down menu even before you finish typing it.

After you enter your search, you’ll find the most relevant Tweets, articles, accounts, images and videos for your query. We’ve also made several other improvements to make your search experience better.

  • Spelling corrections: If you misspell a term, we’ll automatically show results for your intended query.
  • Related suggestions: If you search for a topic for which people use multiple terms, we will provide relevant suggestions for terms where the majority of that conversation is happening on Twitter.
  • Results with real names and usernames: When you search for a name like ‘Jeremy Lin,’ you’ll see results mentioning that person’s real name and their Twitter account username.
  • Results from people you follow: In addition to seeing ‘All’ or ‘Top’ Tweets for your search, you can also now see Tweets about a given topic from only the people you follow when you select the ‘People you follow’ view. Viewing Tweets about a topic from just the people you follow is a great way to find useful information and join the conversation.

 

These updates make search easier on twitter.com, and related search suggestions, search autocomplete and spelling corrections are also available on Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android.

Posted by Frost Li (@frost), engineer, on behalf of the Search and Relevance team

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