Why Google and Bing's Twitter Announcement is Big News

Tweets will finally become first class web citizens

Lurking innocently on Google’s blog this afternoon, like many of their big announcements, was the bombshell that they have reached an agreement with Twitter to make all tweets searchable. This followed an earlier announcement at the Web 2.0 conference by Microsoft that Bing has also arranged to make tweets searchable.

This is not only a huge thing for Twitter, it is also well past due. Until now, Twitter really hasn’t been a first class web citizen, because you’re not really part of Web 2.0 until you’re searchable by Google (and, I suppose, Bing). Sure, you can read someone’s tweets from Twitter, or get a thread via a #tag, but the full text searching capabilities that make things really usable on the web, largely powered by Google, have been missing.

Making tweets searchable is a major usability improvement as well. Twitter handles are cute, but sometimes obscure as well. Perhaps people will start using more full names in their tweets in addition to @ references, which would let you find tweets about people without having to know what their handle happened to be.

It appears that Twitter is going out of their way not to play favorites in the search space, by cutting deals with both Microsoft and Google. Microsoft seems to be ahead of the game right now, since they have a live site up, whereas the announcement from Marissa Mayer of Google only hints at things to come over the next few months.

Screen shot 2009-10-21 at 6.03.29 PM.pngThe Bing interface is interesting, it seems to be a hybrid of a web search engine and a twitter search. Typing in a term gets you back both the latest tweets that match the keywords, as well as web pages that more than one tweet share in common that also match the keywords. This is a tacit acknowledgement that a lot of the useful content of Twitter is found in the web pages that are linked from the Tweets.

If I had to guess, I’d say that Tweets will show up more traditionally on Google, as just another kind of search result, that can be narrowed in the same way that you can narrow results to just images or movies. I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that.

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  • Why did Bing release this when it doesn’t even work yet?

    I clicked AC Milan (the first keyword on the page)


    Twitter search results are currently unavailable.

    Very stupid.


  • bowerbird

    so, if i understand this correctly,
    twitter used robots.txt to exclude
    search engines, forcing bing and
    google to pay twitter for their data.

    newspapers might learn from this…


  • bing didnt work well for me too…. a real beta :)

  • martin.graney

    “full text searching capabilities .. have been missing”

    No they haven’t.

    Twitter has a search API and more available at http://search.twitter.com/

    And, yes, it has full text search capabilities.

  • I assume they expand compressed URL’s when they do the link analysis?

  • I’ve been baffled about all the hype surrounding the “real-time web” in the past few months. Other than breaking news (which I already had no trouble finding online) I don’t see why everyone is excited about searching real-time content. I can’t think of a single search I would conduct on Google or Bing for which a tweet would be a helpful result. If anything, tweets will clutter results with noise. And if you’re specifically looking for tweets, it’s already possible to search Twitter.

    I thought this article would finally tell me Why Google and Bing’s Twitter Announcement is Big News, but unfortunately it didn’t.

  • Twitter does have full text search capabilities already. I thought that Twitter put strict limits on user searches to prevent overloading their already fragile servers? So how is this Google/Bing search going to work? I don’t think indexing tweets will work as it is too infrequent. But if search engines tap directly into Twitter, won’t that overload Twitter? What is going on under the hood?

  • Nicely played, Twitter! One can only guess by my guess is something like: “Hey MSFT, can we make an appt. to come pitch you about getting Twitter into your search results? Thanks.” “Hey, GOOG, we’re in discussions with your competitor about indexing Twitter but we’re really concerned that this not become an exclusive. Can we get serious about search talks, now?” “Hey, MSFT, one of your competitors is itching to move forward on this. Let’s step it up.” etc.


  • Andrea R

    Great, now everyone’s “Good morning” and other stupid tweets (mine included) can be searched. Mining useless information for useless information! Whee.

  • Were any details released about the financial arrangements between Twitter/Microsoft and Twitter/Google?

    If not, has there been any speculation how much money these two giants are paying for the twitter stream?

    Filtrbox.com has provided twitter searches for a while. Have they been paying for this? Will their arrangement with twitter now change?

    Bowerbird points out that newspapers could potentially request compensation for inclusion of their data in google’s indexes. I’m skeptical Google/Microsoft would go for this: it would require newspapers to be providing unique data. Also, they are already receiving compensation by displaying advertising from any links that Google/Microsoft search users click on. If they demanded that the search engines compensate them to include their data and the engine providers refuse, then they lose those hits on their webpage advertisements.

    Twitter is offering something unique — something none of the newspapers are.

  • bowerbird

    phil said:
    > Bowerbird points out that newspapers
    > could potentially request compensation for
    > inclusion of their data in google’s indexes.

    actually, i was mocking that very possibility,
    for the exact reasons which you explained…

    the fact that newspapers _can_ use robots.txt
    to exclude google from indexing them reveals
    their utter lie that google is “exploiting” them.

    newspapers rely on the traffic google sends.
    and we all know it. and that pisses ’em off…