Topsy Wants to Become the Google of Twitter Search

Every public tweet on Twitter is now indexed and searchable through Topsy

Searching through Twitter's archive of tweets can be frustrating -- they are sorted on the site by Twitter's own algorithms, and older tweets tend to get buried. Google? Forget it. Topsy, an analytics company, wants to do it better.

The San Francisco-based company announced Wednesday that it has indexed Twitter's complete archive of public tweets dating back to 2006, giving users simple tools to search through it.

President Barack Obama's first tweet? According to Topsy, it was posted six years ago and read: "Thinking we're only one signature away from ending the war in Iraq."

People can use the tools for free at Topsy.com. The site offers more advanced paid tools that can be used, for instance, if marketers want to track the effectiveness of an advertising campaign.

Topsy is not new to this game. The company was founded in 2007, already offering tools for finding and analyzing data from the public social Web across millions of websites. Before Wednesday's announcement, the site indexed Twitter tweets as far back as 2010.

The company describes its service as a way for marketers, agencies and consumers to extract meaningful signals from the social media noise.

But by indexing Twitter's complete archive, Topsy is hoping to make it easier for the average person to find social data like tweets, links, photos and videos across the Web.

Known as "social search," it's an area that has been difficult for the major players like Facebook and Google to crack.

Facebook's goal is to "make the world more open and connected," but searching for content from outside the site is difficult when members use different privacy settings to share things only with certain people. The social network is trying to make a better search tool for users with Graph Search.

Google previously offered a way to search for information from people on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other sites through its Real-Time Search tool, but the feature was discontinued in 2011.

Microsoft is trying to do more with social search through its Bing search engine. The site incorporates data from outside social networks such as Facebook and Twitter into how it displays search results involving people. But Bing still occupies a much smaller slice of the overall search pie compared to Google.

The Library of Congress is also trying to archive all of America's tweets.

Some of Topsy's competitors include DataSift and Gnip.

Being able to easily analyze users' activity on Twitter is also becoming increasingly important as the site aims to boost revenues with a possible IPO looming. Last month Twitter said it would be tracking users' tweets to measure marketers' sales in physical stores.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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