This article was published on July 8, 2010

Is Twitter The Fastest Growing Search Engine?

Is Twitter The Fastest Growing Search Engine?

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, while speaking at the Aspen Ideas Forum has stated that some 800 million searches are made every day on the Twitter platform. Extrapolated, that works out to some 24 billion searches per month.

That’s a fraction of Google’s 88bn searches per month, but is ahead of Microsoft’s Bing at 4.1bn and Yahoo at 9.4bn combined. Check your gut, does that feel right? Does it make sense that Twitter is a more popular search engine than Bing and Yahoo put together? Of course not; so what is going on here?

The figures that Mr. Stone has released misrepresent the real number of queries that Twitter actually handles. He is counting hits the Twitter API through clients like Tweetdeck for specific terms as individual searches. Run a search column for “LadayGagaRocks” in Tweeteck? The application will ping Twitter every minute or so to be sent the latest updates containing that term. Those are counted by Twitter as individual searches every minute, even as they are often repeated with no one watching, and some times come up empty when no new tweets are available.

This is not to say that Twitter’s numbers are not impressive, 800 million API calls a day for specific terms is excellent, and shows continued growth in Twitter’s platform. It does not, however, meant that Twitter is anything more than a speck in the search world compared to Bing, Yahoo, and Google. To think otherwise is to lose touch with scale.

We love Twitter search, and always will, but let’s not give it more credit than it deserves.