One of most glaringly obvious features Twitter always lacked was an advanced search engine. The trademark of any site or service with massive stockpiles of data should be the ability to actually sift through all that data and find what you’re looking for. We can do it on Google for the Web, we can do it on Facebook for our friends and fan pages, and we should have already been able to do it on Twitter for tweets and people.
Well, advanced search on Twitter is finally here, and this is what it looks like:
Not only can you do the expected, like search for exact phrases or omit words, but you can also search for things said by, to, or about a particular user. There’s also a field to search for tweets near a certain location. And, at bottom, you can turn on switches for positive or negative sentiment, questions and/or retweets.
The truth is that you could always perform these more advanced searches (for example, by using quotation marks for exact phrases or a smiley face for a positive sentiment), but now more mainstream users will actually know about the feature since it will appear as a tip in all search results.
In addition to bringing advanced search front and center, Twitter says it has tweaked search a bit so that you’ll see more relevant users to follow in the sidebar, based on the subject in your keywords, not just the actual words:
For example, if you’re interested in hip hop, chances are that you’d like to follow hip hop artists. Searching for “hip hop” now surfaces accounts like @common and @questlove. (Previously, we typically showed accounts that have “hip hop” in the name.)
Just a few relatively minor changes like these can have a profound effect on the usability of the site.