Twitter search gets an overhaul to place more emphasis on relevance


Twitter has given its search results a tweak just in time for the New Year. The change sees a move away from displaying tweets in reverse chronological order to showing them in order of relevance instead.

The company recognizes that the site is “live and real-time, so naturally Twitter search must surface recent, yet still relevant, results”, so time of posting is still factored in to determine the display order — it is just no longer the only factor used. With a dash of machine learning thrown in, Twitter thinks it has things sorted.

The changes come as the result of numerous experiments in which Twitter toyed with not only how results are displayed, but also tried out different algorithms and page layouts. One of the primary aims of the change is to provide users with results they are actually interested in. This will — it is hoped — increase user engagement, and help to drive up Twitter’s ad revenue.

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Explaining what the change means, Twitter says:

In order to improve this experience, over the last few months we’ve adjust the top tab of your Twitter search results page to start with relevance-ordered Tweets (rather than time-ordered Tweets). We retrieve Tweet candidates from various sources within a larger time range and rank them with a machine-learned model.

You can read more about the stages of development Twitter went through over on the Twitter blog.

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