Search as Synapse: Twitter search API will transform trending topics

Mashable reports that Twitter has announced an update of it’s search API via the Twitter API announcements group on Google.

Typically, the implementation options look simple and powerful. The main change is that they are going to surface popular tweets to the top of the Twitter search results. How popular tweets are defined has not been discussed, although we might fairly speculate that it will be based on number of Re-Tweets, replies and, perhaps, undisclosed follower and engagement metrics.

The change in their own search algorithm is immediately available to third party applications. This means that everyone is going to be able to jump aboard to support their own site and, as usual, keep promoting the Twitter eco-system.

With the new search API you can display:

    • Only popular tweets


    • Only the timeline (i.e. no popularity metrics)


    • A blend of the above (which would directly reproduce their search engine)


Why is this good news for search marketers?
Firstly, it’s proven that authentic audience engagement on Twitter has a side effect of creating links from other bloggers and websites within your network. These links are often extremely valuable as they are exactly the type of ‘natural endorsement’ that the Google algorithm likes when assessing your website’s link profile. Furthermore, even if your site is not ranking well on the search engines, for that target term, the blogger that just linked to you may well be performing better, so you have a chance of people finding your content anyway.

Secondly, it’s another way to get your clients to take Twitter more seriously, whatever ‘boring’ industry they think they are in. It’s not just exciting people using social media, everyone is, and CEOs need to get with the program. A Twitter widget that isn’t simply a river of trivial updates, but ostensibly word of mouth endorsements of their company, could finally persuade them that there is value in those hills.

It also means online marketers can ‘kill two birds with one stone’. Using a widget to display only the most popular tweets, at once appeals to the ‘social’ persona that is visiting your site, and builds trust among the ‘research’ personas, who usually like to get an aggregate sense of the perception of that brand and it’s online activities.

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If you want to find out more about the role of personas in search engine optimization and the future of search engines, check out my in-depth conversation (13mins) with Bryan Eisenberg at SES London on Youtube.

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Thirdly, I predict it will transform the value of trending topics on Twitter, and simultaneously restore prestige (dynamic market value) to unbranded single keyword searches.

Why? It’s search for the ‘bitesize’ consumer. Compared to Google and Bing, Twitter has completely different user behaviors that lead to content discovery. It’s the tangible difference between a ‘bolt from the blue’ and ‘deep diving’. Electrical storms can be just as exciting as exploring coral reefs, depending on your personality.

With this change on Twitter, anyone will immediately be able to get the juice out of a trending topic, skip all the spam, and get a sense as to what is revving up the people engine. Single keyword searches for emotive words like ‘funny’, ‘sexy’ or ‘bored’, will be able to have an independent, yet socially sourced, relevance. There is now an incentive for anyone, not just the Twitterati, to check out the trending topics of the day, at any time of day.

It could revolutionize commentary via Twitter too, as the best tweets about favourite tv shows, political gaffes or sports events will rise to the top.

In essence, I’m willing to bet that this development could be ‘social circle’ results done right, namely via your actual social graph, which is nothing to do with email contacts (looks disapprovingly at Buzz), and everything to do with your real (i.e. IRL) social networks and location. If they get it right, they will create even more opportunities for personal and expert ‘brands’ to succeed. So go out there and get enthusiastic about what you love, because your moment may well be on it’s way.

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