Twitter, it would seem, is looking to draw interest from the search engines. The social site has recently made changes that will allow it to be more searchable to Yahoo, Bing, Google and others. But don’t expect any sweeping changes, since so far the update amounts to some increased search engine access and a new user directory of public profiles. The new profile directory isn’t anywhere near comprehensive, and has only a cursory offering of its some 500 million user accounts.
Twitter’s sputtering update, pause, update, work on technical issues, style of business isn’t new. There have been lots of technical advances and drawbacks, and promises of access in Twitter’s history. There were a few feature upgrades to the site this summer, for instance. There were promises from Dick Costolo that Twitter users may someday be able to download their own Tweets, but there’s no public deadline for that promise.
In July, Vanessa Fox wrote a post about how Twitter’s tech woes made the social network a headache, at least in terms of search. Now where before the social network’s robot.txt. file (Think of a robot.txt file as a set of directions coded into the site that is just for search engines that tell it what is and isn’t searchable on that site.) used to tell Google that it wasn’t allowed, it now is, and so is Bing, Yandex, Microsoft and Yahoo. If you like reading code, you can see the new permission slip here.
The new allowance is a change. Just a few months ago, Google’s Matt Cutts stated that the agreement between Google and Twitter ended in 2011, costing Google some access. (There were reports and a corrected report about what he said about Google’s ability to crawl Twitter. )
Either way, the relationship between Google and Twitter has been a frosty one. Google execs have complained about Twitter’s ability to shut the search engine’s bots out without prior notice, leaving it in an embarrassing wasteland of 404 redirects.
After Google started up its Search Plus Your World feature that allowed users to have personalized Google+ search results returned, in an article by Dan Worth, Twitter responded with a statement saying, “We’re concerned that, as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone. We think that’s bad for people, publishers, news organisations and Twitter users.”
But even Twitter Search isn’t able to search the site’s tweets in entirety.
To quote Twitter’s Developer page, about the Twitter Search API, “Please note that Twitter’s search service and, by extension, the Search API is not meant to be an exhaustive source of Tweets. Not all Tweets will be indexed or made available via the search interface.”
Even with the Twitter Search API (which is really the only way to search recent tweets in real-time) there are lots of directions. So far, the recommended course of action to users looking for a history of their recent tweeting action, is to use a custom, but cumbersome, Streaming API.
While Twitter’s varying stances towards search engine allowances is puzzling, the company just might be learning from the kid who dove into the water first. After the tumultuous ride Facebook has had since becoming an initial public offering (I.P.O.), according to the New York Times, Twitter is looking to do the same, but not until 2014. By then, Twitter is likely to have safely learned from the Facebook I.P.O. playbook (and those of other social networks) thereby allowing it to skip potential missteps into the I.P.O. world.
If that’s the case, it’s arguable that the folks at Twitter are playing the long game, and collective impatience aside, it’s a strategy–perhaps the only one at Twitter–that makes sense.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://pageonepower.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/photo1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]With her background in news and magazine writing and editing, Kaisja Clark found a new home at Boise’s Page One Power, where she serves as a writer, editor, social media manager and marketer, among other things. She welcomes comments, questions, life advice and cookies. Shoot her an email at kclark.pageonepower@gmail dot com.[/author_info] [/author]