How To Power Up Your Twitter Search Techniques

Twitter Search Power TechniquesAs every day passes, the popularity of Twitter continues to grow. However, while the main focus is usually on the number of users or the volume of tweets, one area that most people overlook is the growing value of the network for the purposes of search.

In fact, there have even been suggestions that Twitter will eventually rival the power of Google search. This is based on the fact that most of the popular information (such as suggested links) on the network is human edited, unlike Google which has to rely upon its mechanical algorithm.

So if you want to get the maximum from Twitter, it’s important to harness the power of Twitter search. There’s a vast ocean of valuable information on the Twitter network just waiting to be discovered.

Twitter Search

Originally called Summize, this search tool was bought by Twitter in 2008. At the time it seemed a strange acquisition given the range of powerful third party Twitter tools that could have been acquired. However, that purchase is now beginning to look like an extremely far-sighted and shrewd purchase.

Twitter search has grown into an extremely powerful tool. If you visit the main Twitter search the functionality of the page looks similar to Google.

And like Google, the main Twitter search allows you to use various search operators to fine tune your search.

Plain Search

Searching for the words Twitter search will return posts containing either Twitter or search or both.

Exact phrase search

For example, “Twitter Search” will search for messages that include this exact phrase.

Negative Search

If you want to exclude messages with certain words, just include that word with the minus sign in front of it.

For example, Search -Twitter will return messages about search, but exclude those that also contain the word Twitter.

Hashtag Search

Hashtags are a powerful way for Twitter users to group messages around a certain topic. Twitter allows you to search for these hashtags.

For example, if you want to find information about the Twitter Power System, searching for #tps will return all of the messages that contain that hashtag.

You can add other modifiers to the end of this search to narrow down the results.

For a brief explanation of hashtags, check out our other post about #followfriday.

From Search

If you want to search the messages posted by a Twitter user, just enter from:USERNAME

For example, if you want to see all the messages that Jamesrivers has posted, just search for from:jamesrivers

To add even more power, you can add any search term after this from search. To see how many times James uses the word followers, just search for from:jamesrivers followers

To Search

Likewise, you can search for all the @replies sent to a specific user, for example, to:peterfrancis

@ Search

To find all the searches where a certain Twitter user is mentioned, just reach for @ followed by the username. For example, @stuartlaing will uncover all the messages that contain @stuartlaing

Location Searches

If you want to find how often the phrase internet marketing is sent by people near New York, just search for

“Internet Marketing” near:”New York”

This is great if you want to find people with similar interests in your part of the world.

If you want to narrow down the search, you can add a distance modifier, for example;

“Internet Marketing” near:”New York” within:20mi

This will return messages that refer to internet marketing sent from within a 20 mile radius of New York.

After Searches

twitter since:2009-02-25 will return all messages containing the word Twitter posted since 25th Feb 2009

Before Searches

twitter until:2009-02-25 will return all messages containing the word Twitter posted before 25th Feb 2009

You can then combine these two modifiers to search for posts within a specific period.

Attitude Searches

Adding : ) to your search will filter the results so that only messages with a positive attitude are displayed. Likewise, adding : ( to your search will return messages with a negative attitude.

For example, if you’re searching for reviews of a certain product or company, just search for the relevant name, then choose whether you want to see positive or negative mentions of the keyword.

dell : ) Will bring up positive posts about Dell.

dell : ( will bring up negative messages about Dell.

Question Searches

Add a question mark to your search and it will return posts that ask a question. This is great if you want to add value to the network and raise your profile by answering questions. If you’re a blog expert search for blog ? or blogging ? or wordpress ? to find questions that you can answer.

Link Searches

To filter your searches so that the results only include posts that contain links, just add the filter:links after your search term.

For example, if you’re looking for funny content, just search for funny filter:links or hilarious filter:links

Source Searches

To find messages posted from certain sources, just add source: followed by the Twitter source that you want to search for.

To find all the messages that mention weather posted by the cell phone software twinkle, just search for;

weather source:twinkle

Advanced Search

Alternatively, if you have more time and want to apply these search operators without using the shortcuts, click through to the Advanced Twitter Search and use the form to construct your search.

Choose the right type of search and you can find a host of valuable information that will help improve your Twitter experience and strengthen your network.

Please let us know if you have any Twitter search related questions or tips that will help your fellow readers.

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#1 SvB on 03.17.09 at 5:22 AM

Bravo !
Important Explanation from your great team;
Straightforward tips, right to the point answers.

Keep up the the good job


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#2 Andy Caldwell on 03.17.09 at 12:04 PM

Thanks, Twitter Power Team. It is good to know that there are creative teams out there.

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#3 Ed on 03.17.09 at 12:25 PM

Hi Guy’s,

Looks interesting. I look forward to the launch and trying it out. Thanks for the peek :).


#4 Pete on 03.18.09 at 10:39 AM

Awesome guys!!! Thanks for the simple explanation…it is greatly appreciated!

Wishing you health and happiness,


#5 Oleg on 03.18.09 at 1:23 PM

Excellent article, it inspired the web-based interface to this functionality on TwiST (Twitter Search Tool) at

#6 Mark Shaw on 03.18.09 at 2:13 PM

Excellent article regarding all the different search operators on the webpage. What is also worth mentioning, is that the searches are in real time, so are even more powerful…

Try typing in I’m buying [keyword] or thinking of buying….. or will be buying…… if the keywords that you are after are there, then these are red hot customers…. but the key is… dont then sell to them… Merely suggest to them that you can offer help or guidance on that product…



#7 Steve SEO UK on 03.19.09 at 7:39 AM

Just excellent - now I’m off to find some local people.
Have RT’d tweet.
Many thanks.

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#10 Den on 03.21.09 at 5:27 PM

GOT - Google Blogs + Twitter search:
on the same screen in the same time

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Hey you guys gals Twitterholics far n’wide … thanks for this video update excellent info

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#12 Henry - TwitterJobSearch on 03.24.09 at 11:11 AM

This is really helpful - thanks! There is a semantic search engine that looks at the context not keywords in tweets:

#13 Henry - TwitterJobSearch on 03.24.09 at 11:17 AM

Thanks for this great post - really interesting. There is a semantic search engine for twitter that looks at the context not the keywords of tweets:

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#20 Matt on 06.10.09 at 9:57 PM

Any idea on how (or if it is possible) to conduct a search on only the set of people that I am following?

#21 Resource Management Alliance | Steve on 07.18.09 at 11:07 AM

very interesting list of search engine dynamics.

i love the fact you can search with :) and :( to see likes and dislikes that is a novel idea.

Resource Management Alliance
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#25 stu on 09.01.09 at 9:51 AM

Any ideas on how to search for sources that have spaces in it? Specifically, Perl Net::Twitter. This is an automated feed & I want to set up a search where I don’t see it.

I’ve tried:
source:”Perl Net::Twitter”

Here is one tweet as an example:

#26 walter on 09.30.09 at 6:26 AM

Any idea how to do a search in my own timeline, and not the public timeline? :-)
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