Yahoo: We got Tweets too!

December 10, 2009

If you’re an Internet search engine, having Twitter content adorning your results has become as fashionable as claiming a Tiger Woods liaison seems to be for a certain group of people.

Google and Microsoft both raced to announce deals to incorporate Twitter in their search results within hours of each other in October.

And Yahoo – despite its plan to cease investing in back-end search technology and to outsource the job to Microsoft – does not want to be left out of the action.

YHOOTwit2Yahoo announced that it will display Tweets – the pithy 140-character messages continuously churned out and broadcast over the Internet by Twitter users – in a larger portion of its search results.

Yahoo had already added a tab to let web surfers view Tweets for searches that involved news topics, like climate change, last month. The company now says it will add a Twitter section at the bottom of its search results page for a broader array of queries. (Yahoo provides an example of someone looking for shopping information about Cuisinart kitchen blenders, for instance).

Yahoo’s Twitter enhancement is not exactly a real-time search engine, which would allow users to get up-to-the-second information on any topic. For one thing, only search queries deemed “buzzworthy” by Yahoo will yield Tweets within the results. Yahoo says it looks for a spike in interest in certain search terms to determine if they merit Tweets.

And the Tweets need not be fresh. According to Yahoo, the Tweets it presents in its search might be minutes old or aged as much as several hours – what matters isn’t the timeliness so much as the relevance, Yahoo says.

A Yahoo representative said in an email that the company is accessing Twitter results through the public Twitter API, rather than through a special deal to connect to the Twitter data feed (aka the Firehose) as Microsoft and Google have done. There are no financial terms involved, the Yahoo spokesperson said.

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