Yahoo Indexes Tweets In Search Results


Yahoo is indexing tweets on its search engine, but updates only appear minutes or hours after they are sent, long after Google’s Twitter results which appear in real-time

Twitter is quickly becoming a staple of leading web search engines. Just a few days after Google began indexing Twitter tweets and other content in real time, Yahoo said it is now indexing tweets for its own core search engine.

Beginning 10 December, users searching for hot topics on Yahoo will see recent tweets on the search results page.

Yahoo’s approach is to monitor its search traffic and select relevant tweets on so-called buzzing topics to show on the results page. When users search for hot topics such as “climate gate” or “Tiger Woods,” they’ll see Twitter results toward the bottom of the search results page.

This isn’t the first time Yahoo has worked with Twitter. The search engine, which has seen its market share drop from 20 to 18 percent after losing computer tool bar deals with Hewlett-Packard and Acer earlier in 2009, started indexing tweets in Yahoo News in November.

In that offering, users see tweets, photos and videos pertaining to breaking news stories on the company’s search results page when users search for fresh news. Starting today, users will still see relevant tweets about popular news topics in the News shortcut, but they will also “see tweets about some of the less popular buzzing topics directly in the search results,” Yahoo search engineers Ivan Davtchev and Shiv Ramamurthi explained in a 10 December blog post:

“We continuously keep track of queries searched on Yahoo, and when there is a spike in interest in a topic, our search algorithm selects relevant tweets to show on the search results page, either as a part of the Yahoo News shortcut or in a Twitter section … The age of the tweets will vary – some will be a minute old, while others may be hours old. Our goal is to feature interesting Twitter content that is relevant to your query and complements the other results you find on the search page.”

So tweets show up in Yahoo search results minutes or hours after they are sent, not seconds. That’s a half-measure that won’t impress users who can get results in real time on Google, where an estimated 65 to 70 percent of users do most of their searching.

Yahoo’s indexing of tweets is more like the way Microsoft Bing surfaces tweets – within minutes and hours instead of seconds. However, Bing’s tweets are served on Bing Twitter, a special website, not directly in Bing’s core search results.

It’s likely only a matter of time before Bing adds tweets and other real-time content to its core search results. However, Yahoo didn’t strike a deal with Twitter to use the microblog’s Firehose API, so there are questions about the relevancy of tweets Yahoo will serve.

Google, by dint of indexing news, blogs and tweets in real time, is still ahead of its rivals Yahoo and Bing.

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