October 10, 2009

Searchtastic Aims To Extend Twitter Search Results With New Engine

Practically everybody is putting their data into Twitter these days. With an increasing velocity of tweets, it has become an escalating challenge to find data from this real-time information archive, made even more difficult by the limitations of the company's default search engine, which only displays information in the last week to two weeks. With others, including Twazzup, Collecta and OneRiot, trying their hand at finding the information in Tweetspace, a new engine has launched today, called Searchtastic. As it's so new, it's more "search" than "-tastic", but they promise future features in the coming weeks that will help the engine improve.

Searchtastic bills itself as "smart Twitter search". On launch day, there are really two major features that would have you using Searchtastic over the standard Twitter search.

The first benefit is that Searchtastic is archiving tweets longer than Twitter search (as discussed previously, there are issues). This means that tweets from more than two weeks ago may be available on their engine, but not the standard interface, giving your more results and data to work with.

The second benefit is that if you want to hone your search by adding or removing keywords, to do so is very simple. Click on keywords in search results to add them to your next query, or click on a word you just searched to remove it.

Searchtastic Finds Tweets on "Tweetie" from @scobleizer

Searchtastic also says its ability to provide "instant access to the most followed users" on their top 100 page is a feature, but I don't care so much for that, and there are other places to find beneficiaries of the controversial Suggested User List (SUL).

A Familiar Sight on Searchtastic

I tested Searchtastic, comparing it to the standard Twitter search, and it definitely provides more total results, going back longer, to the beginning of September, which is likely when they started indexing. But searches took longer to execute, and you certainly don't get any of the "trending topics" that bubble to the top of Twitter elsewhere. In fact, searching on "LSU", a currently trending topic on Twitter, without specifying a user name, simply provided me a bunch of tweets from PerezHilton complaining that "#TmobileStillSucks". So that was not what I had wanted.

Searchtastic Finds Tweets on "Spam" from @mattcutts

Adding the term "Twitter" to "Spam" from @mattcutts

The utility of Searchtastic looks to be when you want to search a specific user for a specific tweet, or see what that person has said about a particular topic. It's not a substitute for searching all of Twitter globally, and the highlighting of "top users" seems redundant. But if Twitter Search is drawing a blank where you know there should be results, maybe Searchtastic has it.

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