Bing Builds an Underwhelming Twitter Search

Looking for a competitive edge in the Internet search wars, Microsoft plans to index Twitter updates in real time for Bing, its recently rebranded search engine.

The idea is that recent developments on the social messaging service will be easy to find (fitting with Microsoft's Bing advertising mantra that it reduces search overload), with the search engine displaying snippets of status updates front-and-center in its results.

Before you go hunting for your latest recounting of breakfast, though, understand that for now, Microsoft is only integrating tweets from "some of the more prominent and prolific Twitterers from a variety of spheres," Sean Suchter, general manager of Microsoft's Silicon Valley Search Technology Center, said in a blog post.

After trying some searches for these celebrity Twitterers, I'm underwhelmed. Sure, the function works as advertised: Type "Kara Swisher" into the text form, and the top result is a link to her Twitter feed and a few of her latest tweets. Why that's advantageous over visiting Swisher's actual page on Twitter, I'm not sure.

To make matters worse, this functionality falls apart when searching for the very things the Twitter VIPs are writing about. For example, I searched for "Kara Swisher Vision Quest," as the latter two words appear in one of her recent tweets. After getting nothing on the first three pages of Bing results, I gave up.

By comparison, Google listed a relevant tweet in eighth place on its front page. In fact, Google does a pretty good job of indexing Twitter searches from all users, famous or obscure. A topic I wrote about yesterday on Twitter appeared on top of my search results, and thanks to Google's "more results from twitter.com" link, finding related tweets was a breeze.

In fairness, there's room for both engines to improve. Google's good at indexing tweets, but not working up to the minute and sorting results for the user (chronological order would be a great fit). Bing seems to have those functions in store, but it fails at delivering targeted search results.

Any chance we can get the two companies to combine their efforts? I didn't think so.

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