Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Google Takes a (Small) Stab at Fixing Twitter Search

Twitter has a lot going for it. But search isn’t one of those things.

Even the service’s biggest fans concede that looking for something on Twitter, which can only return results in chronological order, is frustrating at best.

Twitter knows it, too. COO Dick Costolo told me yesterday that his company has a dedicated team working to improve search and that we should expect to see improvements throughout the year.

Meanwhile, other people are taking a crack at it. TweetUp, for instance, intends to lure eyeballs to its ads by promising search results that favor particularly “great” tweets and tweeters.

And here’s a tweak today from Google: A feature that lets searchers comb through the Twitter archives and pull results from a particular time period.

Google (GOOG), which has a short-term contract to syndicate Twitter’s stream, is only offering the feature for tweets going back to February 11 this year, but the company says it will eventually offer the service for all the tweets generated in Twitter’s four-year history (see image below; click to enlarge).

That’s not nearly enough to fix Twitter search, but it is cool. And probably useful in some situations.

The feature is rolling out now, but it may take a while to show up on your laptop. To see if it’s available, go to “options” on your search results page and pick “updates.” If you still don’t see anything, you can see a sample version here, though I was only able to get it to work with the Safari browser, for some reason. Go figure.