Changing the Currency of Influence via Search

There is no doubt that Google is the king of search but how did they become that way? In the old days (you know, before PageRank was dubbed irrelevant), the idea was that the number of links to a site, particularly by more “powerful” sites increased the relevance of an indexed page in the Google index. To this day, that philosophy holds, tho clearly the weight has shifted from “links of powerful sites” to “internal links”.

Google has not significantly adjusted how they determine the importance of an article, site or keyword in some time, tho they claim some 70+ algorithmic tweaks last year. And that’s fine. Google’s index is Google’s index. It has trained us how to search and what we expect when we search. It has taught us silently and we compare all other results to the Google results, despite the fact that Google results are in themselves arbitrary and based on their own determination via algorithm.

But I digress.

It’s interesting when new search engines or tools come out. It’s interesting to see the innovation as it takes place. One such tool that I discovered, almost by accident, does a good great job of building an index around links and pages passed around Twitter. This tool is Topsy, which combines Twitter Search with Google like results (in other words, the results are not tweets themselves).

For those of you not occupying your every waking moment on Twitter, it is by most objective measures, the new information aggregator – like RSS readers were supposed to be or portal sites try to be.

The currency of influence on Twitter can be summarized in two letters: RT (short for Retweet). Many bloggers are including the ability for stories to be “retweeted”, or redistributed on Twitter, and that is precisely what Topsy is measuring. (An example of retweeting capability on a blog can be seen on this blog – see that Retweet button at the end of the article?)

Much like Google set the currency of relevance based on links, an assumption that was valid at the time and still carries some level of validity today, Topsy has recognized that more influence is being distributed via Twitter and thus, a relevancy algorithm around this currency must be built.
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I don’t know if Topsy is a “Google killer” or even if they strive to be one. My guess is, it will never supplant Google in our lives. However, an ambitious approach to this new distribution of influence is an important, and enjoyable, thing to watch.

Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

5 thoughts on “Changing the Currency of Influence via Search

  1. I will not be surprised if RT measurements will be incorporated into Google’s PR at some point. It long as startups will find new ideas it’s in big companies’ interests to steal these ideas and reap profits

  2. I haven’t bothered with Twitter yet; I don’t think that there is anyone “out there” who is really that interested in what I am doing all day every day. I really didn’t think that Twitter was going to be so powerful that it would need it’s own search engine!

  3. Interesting. Unfortunately, I like google – because it is my job to help people grab top rankings in Google, and that is the search engine I know. The twitter search produced some pretty good results, but it would be hard to produce great results because unknown websites would have a harder time grabbing enough tweets to rank – I assume.

  4. All my friends are on Twitter and Facebook. I am starting to feel old fashioned by writing a real WordPress blog and not joining the Twitter fray. I don’t feel that my posts are worth re-tweeting but maybe I am too modest or just a narcisstic nerd for writing them in the first place. I suppose the proof of need and relevancy for Twitter and Topsy will have something to do with someone else making money somehow.

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