Twitter powers up search to compete with rivals

Twitter is updating its search function in a bid to make it easier for users to find content they are looking for as it attempts to compete more closely with the likes of Google and Facebook in the real-time search market. The revamp includes features such as spelling correction, autocomplete, and related results, which includes similar hashtags and user names, as well as allowing users to only search within the tweets of people they follow. Twitter’s search function has long been criticised, but with social media sites rapidly moving into a space traditionally dominated by search engines, Twitter is now looking to harness the millions of updates posted by its users every day to drive a powerful real-time search tool. The move is also designed to boost Twitter’s revenues, with the firm able to sell ads alongside its search results, as it attempts to mature its business and develop its business model.

“We’re constantly working to make Twitter search the simplest way to discover what’s happening in real time,” says Twitter engineer Frost Li.

The search update is just the latest attempt by Twitter to make it easier for users to surface content and information of interest as the firm attempts to boost user engagement. Twitter has already introduced a tab that highlights the trending topics on the site as it attempts to evolve its micro-blogging service into an easily searchable source of relevant, on-the ground, information. Last year Twitter revamped its site to let consumers search its streams for topics, events or people directly from the homepage, without having to login, a sign that the service is increasingly used as a news source. The firm is also embracing its role as a content sharing tool, increasing the amount of rich media displayed in the body of each tweet so that pictures, videos and article headlines appear embedded in users' timelines.