Twitter heralded as the 'fastest growing search engine'; but is it really?

Published Date
12 - Jul - 2010
| Last Updated
12 - Jul - 2010
Twitter heralded as the 'fastest growing search engine'; but is i...

According to figures revealed by Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, at the recent Aspen Ideas Festival, Twitter has become the fastest growing search engine in the world. It went from 600 million searches a day in April to 800 million searches a day in June, which is a 33% increase, as compared to Bing’s spectacular 22% rise.

This puts Twitter at 24 billion searches a month, miles ahead of both Bing and Yahoo, who rack up 4.1 billion and 9.4 billion searches respectively. Google, of course, remains the search king, at 88 billion searches a month.

However, all these statistics have to be taken with a pinch of salt. While Biz Stone did say that Twitter is “more like an information network or a source of news”, the sort of searches conducted on the social networking giant’s website are very different from the sort conducted on Google, Yahoo, or Bing… Instead of the wide range of media and information indexed, what is being searched for are Tweets (discussions, news, updates) by various organisations and individuals, and, many of the searches are not manual.

This inflates the number tremendously, as numerous Twitter applications, like TweetDeck and Seesmic, perform automated user-specified searches, with up-to-the-minute updates. And each update is treated as a new search…

So while reports are clubbing web search services and Twitter together, Twitter founders are a bit warier with the statistics:

Here’s what Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter, said about the Twitter’s search: “You can search on Twitter, but I think the search has a long way to go ... With Twitter, you have no history about a document. If freshness is a key component, they (Google and Microsoft) will surface tweets. They are just at the beginning stages of that and we are at the beginning stages of that. It’s an unsolved problem. Even though we’re working on it, having Google engineers figure out how to surface the best information to people is a good deal because it’s not figured out.”

Biz Stone, co-founder, Twitter: “There’s a big difference between searching the web - which is about I, me, I’m asking the search engine to give me something - and when you are on Twitter, you are open to information that’s coming to you.”

Abhinav LalAbhinav Lal