Twitter search vs. Google

A quick follow up note on my previous post on using Twitter for real-time search. Today the number one news story without doubt is the tragic death of the King of Pop – Michael Jackson. Nearly all major news outlets are reporting about his death and social media are buzzing like crazy about the icon. And once again we can see that Twitter is a much quicker search engine than Google Insights For Search which doesn’t display live results, only results for the last 7 days. See the difference below.

Top ten trending topics on Twitter this morning (9 AM CET):

Rip MJ
P Michael Jackson
Farrah Fawcett

Top ten search terms on Google the last 7 days:

2.leighton meester
3. wimbledon 2009
5. jon and kate
6. 儿子
7. us open
8. us open golf
9. perez hilton
10. aöf

Both tools are great for research on current trends in online behaviour, and they are of course not analyzing the same activities. One monitors search behaviour and the other monitors published key words. Either way, when it comes to finding out what happens right now, Twitter search is way quicker.

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Using Twitter for real-time search

I’m not a search expert, but working in communications requires at least basic knowledge about online search. Search is such a vital part of the way we find information about brands these days. A recent Swedish study (pdf) showed that among those who used the internet to search for information about products and services, 91 percent used a search engine.

We can also use data from search ingines to track the latest buzz online. A good tool to see trends in search behaviour is to use Google Insight For Search which shows how often different search terms have been used over time. It also tells you what terms have increased the most during the last few days.

If we use Google Insight For Search to see how often people search for the term Facebook, we can’t find anything unusual related to Facebook that happens right now.


But as most of you know, Facebook launched vanity URLs today on a first-come, first-served basis. So members who wanted to grab a specific name had to be alert this morning to secure the desired URL. Obviously the has been a lot of buzz about this on Twitter this morning, so a quick search for “Facebook” on Twist, a tool for trend search on Twitter, we discover that there was a big peak in mentions of Facebook on Twitter this morning.


It might not be the perfect tool, but I think the difference illustrates how Twitter and Twitter-related applications are becoming very useful in finding out what happens in close to real-time on the web. Other tools that analyze Twitter to bring you the latest buzz are MicroBlogBuzz (no 1 topic: Facebook Username) and Retweetradar (Facebook is one of the most retweeted phrases right now).

Google knows this, of course. This article states that Google is working on solutions for real-time search but I haven’t managed to find out how that works.

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Google launches blog search

Google has just launched a blog search tool and it seems very promising. After a few quick tries I found several interesting blogs I will start subscribing to. Like for example Swedish communications consultant Jan Sandred’s blog Innovation Journalism (in English).

Update: Ego-searching seems to be the spinal reaction to a new tool like Blogsearch. Chadie and Olav searched for their own blogs, with different levels of success. And yes, I did it too.