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Top 5 Google Killers -- That Didn't


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Twitter Search
Twitter search can give you a snapshot of trending topics.
Twitter search can give you a snapshot of trending topics.
Screenshot by HowStuffWorks.com

Last on our list is Twitter Search. Twitter is the messaging service that spans across cell phones and the Web. Users can send messages of up to 140 characters in length to a network of followers. They can also reply to messages publicly or send direct messages to their correspondent. Twitter messages -- or tweets -- show up in a user's Twitter account chronologically. In general, newer tweets are at the top of the list. But there are dozens of different applications for computers and phones that can arrange tweets in different ways.

One of the more useful Twitter applications is Twitter Search. Type a keyword into Twitter Search right from the Twitter home page and you'll see the most recent public tweets that contain that keyword. You can take the pulse of the Twitter audience instantly. A quick glance at the time stamp on each tweet tells you if the topic you're searching for is generating a lot of interest or is dead in the water.

Twitter users have adapted their behaviors to make Twitter Search more useful. For example, the hashtag is a way to designate a term in your tweet. It consists of a # symbol followed by a keyword. Why use a hashtag? By searching for a term with a hashtag on it, you're more likely to pull up tweets that are relevant to your interests. Otherwise, you'll get a search results page containing every tweet that includes your keyword. If the keyword is a common term, you may have to sort through dozens of irrelevant messages before you find one that applies to your search.

Is Twitter Search a threat to Google? Well, it gives the user an instant glance at topics of interest. And Twitter Search results update as you plow through them, while Google search results take more time to update. But Twitter limits messages to 140 characters in length. Most of the time, you'll find more helpful information using Google. Exceptions include breaking news or tweets that contain links to sites that Google has yet to index.

There are lots of useful search engine tools on the Internet. Some of them even rival Google -- there might even be a few that are arguably better at returning searches than Google. But it looks like it's going to take more than a good search results page to topple this Goliath.

Learn more about Web services by following the links on the next page.


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