This article was published on February 8, 2013

At last! Twitter search results are finally starting to show tweets older than a week

At last! Twitter search results are finally starting to show tweets older than a week

Twitter has announced that it is rolling out an update for its mobile apps and website. In the coming days, users can now find older tweets using the search feature. Previously, the site only allowed users to search for tweets that were up to a week old.

With a broader search capability, users can now find those older tweets that they so desperately wanted to reference, yet had no way to because too much time had passed. Twitter yesterday began taking steps to implement this when it upgraded its mobile search experience to better allow users to find content and information useful to them on the go.

Twitter didn’t specifically say what prompted it to increase the amount of data that users could parse through, but it may have something to do with the fact that it  might be more promising to have search be done. According to a report from marketing firm TBG Digital, who specializes in buying promoted tweets on Twitter, advertising on search results are more effective than if they were inserted into a user’s Twitter feed. Why? The company says it’s because a search is triggered by a user’s interest in that topic, thereby holding an interest in the results. If it’s in the timeline, it’s just additional noise.

It’s not know how this will affect developers who use the API, but it’s doubtful this improvement in search will benefit them — they currently have access to Twitter’s fire hose of data through one of its approved resellers, Datasift and Gnip. This update is aimed primarily at those that use the consumer apps and

Expanding the search time length might be another way for Twitter to help users feel comfortable they have access to their tweets. Last summer, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said that it was building a tool to allow users to download their tweets. In December, this new feature began rolling out in a phased approach, with some (including this reporter) waiting to be able to take advantage of it.

Twitter’s announcement, written by Paul Burstein, an engineer with the search infrastructure team, is below:

Yesterday, we updated our Android, iOS and mobile web apps to make it easier for you to find relevant content when you’re on the go. We also started to roll out an additional update on our mobile apps as well as on you’ll now be able to find older Tweets using search. To see for yourself, try searching for [Manchester United Southampton] or [#SpotTheShuttle].

Previously, Twitter search results displayed Tweets going back about a week. We’ve developed a way to include older Tweets, so you can see content that goes beyond the more recent Tweets.

As we roll this out over the coming days, the Tweets that you’ll see in search results represent a fairly small percentage of total Tweets ever sent. We look at a variety of types of engagement, like favorites, retweets and clicks, to determine which Tweets to show. We’ll be steadily increasing this percentage over time, and ultimately, aim to surface the best content for your query. For now, enjoy your trip down memory lane!

Photo credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

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