Category Archives: Twitter Search

How To Find The Most Popular Tweets On Any Topic

Topsy saves all Tweets, and lets you search them in a bunch of awesome ways.

One of my favorite Topsy features is searching for the most popular tweets from a particular user. For example, here are the most popular tweets from @TweetSmarter about the topic “etiquette.”

Here’s what that looks like for the most popular @TweetSmarter #Warning tweets:

See how that works? All you need is to:

  1. Search for from:username without the “@” (in this case, TweetSmarter)
  2. Type a space, and then the keyword you want to search for (in this case, it’s the hashtag #Warning)
  3. On the left, click the “All Time” option to see the most popular tweets of all time
  4. That’s it!

If you just want to find tweets by topic, of course only type in a keyword.

Search in ANY custom time period

You can edit the URL of a search to make it cover virtually any time period. Decide how many hours or days you want to search through. If the option (such as “Past 7 Day”) is there, simply click it and you’re done.

But what if you want to search a different number of hours or days? This takes three steps:

  1. First, do your search. Choose any options from the left panel.
  2. Next, click the “1 hour” or “1 day” options depending on whether you’re going to search through hours or days
  3. Lastly, look at the URL (web address) in the top of your browser. Type in whatever number of days or hours you wish (no spaces) at the end of the URL and click enter on your keyboard

Sometimes in the morning I’ll search for tweets about Twitter that came in when I was sleeping. So my search URL will look like this after I add an “8” to the end:

Try it! Topsy is one of the most awesome Twitter tools in existence :-)

What To Watch Out For

Offensive tweets and pics will sometimes show up unexpectedly, when you’re searching for something that seems inoffensive.

It’s the internet, so watch out! Of course, I’ve also encountered unexpected nudity on Google image search, searching for things that would seem to have no relation to any possible nudity.

I will sometimes turn off display of images in my browser if I’m going to be doing a wide varietry Topsy searches, so I don’t run into any unwanted surprises.

In Google Chrome, for example, you can turn off images from Settings > Advanced Settings > Privacy > Content Settings > Images.




How to Search for Tweets From Only Those You Follow on Twitter

For any search you do on Twitter, there will three options that appear near the top of the page: Top, All, and People you Follow. It looks like this:

Click on “People you Follow” and you’re done. Quick and easy!

Why Twitter Will NOT Show You All Tweets…And What You Can Do

What many people find to be a problem (once they are informed) is that Twitter’s default result is “Top” and NOT “All.”

That’s right: Twitter does NOT show you all tweets in a search result…UNLESS you take the additional step of clicking “All.”

Even then, not all tweets appear in search results. If your tweets are missing, be sure to read Twitter’s help article.

The Ultimate Guide To Finding People Via Social Media

Social media is the ultimate place to make connections. Here you can find people who can:

…or who are just interesting people to get to know, and much, much more!

1. Finding People By Interest, Topic or Bio

Let’s say—just for the sake of example—that you’re trying to find the top influencers on the topic of “parenting.” All the links below will take you to results on “parenting” (where possible) so you can see how to do a keyword search.

Some of these great free resource also offer search by location, such as FollowerWonkLocaFollow and others.

  1. FollowerWonk
  2. Twiangulate
  3. Topsy Expert Search
  4. Listorious List Search
  5. TweetLevel topic search
  6. Search Twitter Twitter bios via Google
  7. Klout topic search
  8. Twellow Directory Search
  9. Super Dashboard at #FollowFriday most recommended
  10. (shows related resources)
  11. LocaFollow
  12. PeekYou
  13. Hashtweeps top users by hashtag
  14. HooSaid user search
  15. TweepFind
  17. WeFollow Directory Search
  18. (allows limited free searches)
  19. Social Mention
  20. TweetFind
  21. Twibs
  22. Icerocket
Yet another strategy is search for people tweeting about a topic, and then trying to figure out how influential they are. If you use the Klout plugin (Firefox • Chrome) you can see the Klout ranking of each user right inside their tweet.

2. Finding People by Name

While some of the tools above will help you with this, you can also search Twitter usernames via Google or simply use Twitter people search.

3. More Strategies

Also check out some of the tools in this “Twitter Influentials” post and some of the advice at “Identifying True Twitter Friends.”

There are also many excellent paid tools, of course, such as and

4. What Should You Do When You Find Them?

If you’re looking to connect with influential people, see the section titled “How to find the most influential people willing to help you” at “The ULTIMATE guide to finding and engaging influential Twitter users.”

It’s a good idea to see how much these folks converse with others. Try a Twitter search such as this one to see their conversations.

Happy searching!

Is Twitter Censoring Search Results? Will They Fix It?

Many people don’t use Twitter search, so Twitter has worked hard to get more “average” users to try it, particularly by putting various search results on the “Discover” tab.

But for those users that rely on and regularly use Twitter search, there is a problem: Twitter search doesn’t show all tweets by default.

The solution is to click “All” (instead of the default “Top”) to see all tweets. But now, Twitter does NOT even offer that option on the mobile website!

What do you call search results that don’t show MOST results? I call it broken:

Since mobile is the only access many people use when they connect to Twitter, is this censorship?

99% of Tweets Missing?

As one user pointed out, even a popular hashtag with 20 tweets every two minutes or so might only show just 20 tweets in the past several days—that’s hundreds of missing tweets Twitter won’t show you.

I get that Twitter is trying to simplify and popularize different features, but if I had a document where 99% of the words went missing because the software wanted to “simplify” it for me, I’d be pissed.

Twitter has made search work more like “Discover” where they want to find a few things that might interest you, and hide everything else. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they removed or further hid the “all” option from the main website and left it only available through the API, so that you had to use apps to access search results.


Twitter obviously doesn’t even want new mobile users to know that they can find all tweets, saying in effect “we have all the information, but you don’t need to know that most of it exists.”

So now that Twitter has just shown their willingness to hide most tweets, what if Twitter removes the “all” option from the main site and the API and it no longer exists in public anywhere?

Twitter is famously opposed to governments telling them to release private data about users, and always fights at the minimum to make such requests public. So Twitter fights governments on behalf of users. But if Twitter itself takes away our access to see all tweets, who can we complain to?


Of course, Twitter will sell you access to all tweets through its partners. Could this mean Twitter will one day make viewing “all” tweets available only to people that pay?

When Google used to have a social media search option included all tweets, they were paying Twitter a lot for the privilege. And Twitter dropped their contract with Google as soon as they could, and have been opposed to reinstating it (with many different reasons given)

Selling access to tweets is already a big money-maker for Twitter (it used to be their main source of profit). Might they be planning to only make access all tweets available to Twitter partners, or through paid “premium” Twitter accounts?

The Value Of Search

Complete search results are disappearing right and left.

Google in fact followed Twitter’s lead, and made the “all” search results never come up by default. What you see in Google nowadays is something called “Search Plus Your World.” You have know what icon to click to see the old, complete search results.

Facebook uses what they call their “Edgerank algorithm” to hide many status updates from you. There is a whole industry built around teaching you how to get your Facebook status message to break through the algorithm so that more people will see it.

Access to complete and accurate information is getting harder and harder to come by, which, considering the potential of the internet to provide access to information, is amazing.

Part of the bright promise of the internet was access to information for the average person. But social media creates false rumors that spread like wildfire, clutters up our feeds with misleading and useless information, and now more and more won’t let us even search through all available information.

I’ll tell you frankly, I don’t like the direction things are heading.

How Twitter search got better and became useless at the same time

What happened?

Twitter’s default search mode is now to remove some tweets. It’s filtered, and called “Top” search results. You have the option on a dropdown menu of choosing “All.” This is an error on Twitter’s part. “All” should be the default, with the option to choose “Top.” Instead, “Top” is forced on us. Here’s what it looks like in a search for “funny blogs:”

What’s good about this

  1. If you just want to see higher quality results, Twitter delivers them by default—”top” excludes tweets from unproven or spammy users.
  2. There is much less spam in the results, and you don’t miss older, higher quality tweets as easily—they rise to near the top.
  3. You may be able to get better results from less complex searches, and Twitter has added a “Refine results” link near the top right of each search to help you.

What’s bad about this

  1. If you are trying to find a specific tweet, the default hides some tweets.
  2. Saved searches make it difficult to change the default—there is no option to click. You have to go to the URL where it says “/saved-search/” and delete the “saved-” part (leaving “/search/”).
  3. “Top” shows tweets in approximate, but not strict chronological order, which can be contrary to what you want to see.

What I do

I can no longer use Twitter’s saved searches feature, because I use it to find people asking questions, and a lot of those folks are new(er) users whose tweets don’t show up in the “top” results. Plus, when I share searches now, I have to remember to change the result from “top” to “all” to ensure nothing is missing. So what I do now is a 3-step process to set up:

  1. I don’t save any searches within Twitter. I start from regular Twitter search…which no longer works unless you have selected “new Twitter” as your default interface.
  2. After the search results are shown, I use the drop down to choose “all”
  3. After the search results are shown, I save the results as a bookmark in my browser

Users have been complaining about the changes to search.

For example, I noticed @Pearsonified recently tweeted “New reason to favorite tweets: Twitter search is worthless” and I suspect he was finding that the default “top” results were causing the tweets he was looking for to be missing from the search results in some cases.

Tips for Doing Advanced Twitter Searches

One of my favorite uses of the “near:” advanced search operator is to view tweets from an approximate country area. Here are a few:

  • United States: Search for near:hutchinson within:1000mi
  • Australia: Search for near:adelaide within:1500mi
  • United Kingdom: Search for near:”barrow-in-furness” within:500km
Beware using the language filter (e.g. lang:en for english, etc) because it misses a lot of tweets. Why? Because it will only show you tweets that it KNOWS are in the language you requested. Many tweets are of “indetermined” language. Scroll down for more tips below the list of advanced search operators. Got a tip? Leave it in the comments and I’ll add it to this post and credit you!

The advanced search operators

You can type these search operators directly into the search box. Important! You must click “All” after searching to see all tweets:




Typing this Shows you tweets that have native twitter pictures
-“” do NOT have native twitter pictures (not the use of ” quote marks OR OR OR OR OR OR OR
have pictures from popular image sources
has:retweet are native retweets
RT OR HT OR via are “quoted” retweets containing “RT” or “HT” or “via”
lang:en are only in the language “english”
funny movies contain both “funny” and “movies”. This is the default operator.
“silly argument” contain the exact phrase ”silly argument”.
man OR woman contain either “man” or “woman” (or both).
Yankees -baseball contain ”Yankees” but not “baseball”.
#FollowFriday contain the hashtag “#FollowFriday”.
were sent from person “ladygaga”.
to:tweetsmarter were sent to person “tweetsmarter”.
referencing person “Oprah”.
“chinese restaurant” near:”chicago” contain the exact phrase ”chinese restaurant” and sent near “chicago”
near:NYC within:15mi were sent within 15 miles of “NYC”.
superhero since:2011-07-30 contain  “superhero” and sent since date “2011-07-30″ (year-month-day).
ftw until:2011-07-30 contain ”ftw” and sent up to date “2011-07-30″.
movie -scary  :) contain ”movie”, but not “scary”, and with a positive attitude.
flight  :( contain ”flight” and with a negative attitude.
traffic ? contain ”traffic” and asking a question.
hilarious filter:links contain ”hilarious” and linking to URLs.
news source:twitterfeed contain ”news” and entered via TwitterFeed
lol source:txt contain ”lol” and only show tweets sent via SMS (texting)

More Great Tips

  1. More complex searches miss more tweets. Unless you are getting way too many tweets back in your results, consider using a simpler search and manually or visually rejecting the tweets you don’t want. And if a complex Twitter search fails completely, try simpler and simpler searches until one works, or try again later.
  2. There is often more than one variation of popular hashtags (for example, #FollowFriday and #ff mean the same thing). Be sure to research and use all relevant hashtags where needed in your searches.
  3. Sometimes a search won’t show you older tweets, because there are too many results. Consider doing one or more searches using the before: and since: date operators.

Google ends contract with Twitter right after releasing new social network

If you are one of the many people relying upon the Google Realtime Search, you will have probably found out that the service went offline 2 days ago. Your best alternative now is the Google Tweet Search with date option (example).

So, just as Google’s new social network was released, their relationship with Twitter has ended. Speculation is that either Twitter or Google didn’t feel comfortable continuing the relationship now that they are more direct competitors. Search Engine Landreports that Google’s contract to view tweets expired on the 2th of July. Both companies have commented on the situation. Google explained that:

Since October of 2009, we have had an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in our search results through a special feed, and that agreement expired on July 2. Twitter has been a valuable partner for nearly two years, and we remain open to exploring other collaborations in the future. Especially with the recent launch of Google Plus this stirs up wild speculations about whether this was strategically planned. Google however tried to avoid any rumours by including that Our vision is to have include Google+ information along with other realtime data from a variety of sources.

Yet, why action wasn’t taken to continue the relationship, remains a miracle somehow, as other places continue to offer Realtime Search.

Where can I continue to access Realtime Search for Tweets?


Here it is particularly worth mentioning that Microsoft entered into a similar deal with Twitter 2 years ago, yet the collaboration remains intact.


Bing’sSocialSearch is still accessible and delivering Realtime Search results as usual, including Tweets.

Twitter mentions that

Microsoft is not the only one continuing with access to Realtime Search: We continue to provide this type of access to Microsoft, Yahoo!, NTT Docomo, Yahoo! Japan and dozens of other smaller developers. And, we work with Google in many other ways.

Are All Tweets Excluded From Search Results?


Whilst some may wonder, whether this will affect normal search results too, Google specified that this is not the case:

While we will not have access to this special feed from Twitter, information on Twitter that’s publicly available to our crawlers will still be searchable and discoverable on Google.

What does this mean?


The first and foremost practical implication is that Google delivered the best results for Tweets, reaching back farthest. So obviously for us as users, it means that we need to rely on less qualitative results for now.

As Twitter’s own search barely reaches further back then a few days, I believe that it would naturally make sense for them to make an effort and restore the collaboration. For both their own good and the good of users.

I will keep an eye out on further communication from either Twitter or Google and keep you updated here.

About the Author:

Leo Widrich is the Co-Founder of Twitter App Buffer, an App that allows you to tweet all the great content you find more intelligently without flooding your followers. He writes more Twitter Tips and updates every week on the Bufferblog. Say hi @LeoWid anytime, he is a very nice guy and always happy to chat.

How to use Google to search Twitter bios

Quick tip: For example, search for “attorney” on Twitter.

intitle:”attorney* on twitter” OR intext:”bio * attorney”

To do your own search, click the link above, and edit the search to replace the word attorney with the word you want to search for. Here is another example:

intitle:”web designer* on twitter” OR intext:”bio * web designer”

Also read this post for other cool ways to search Twitter.

You may NEVER see some tweets sent to you

Can you imagine trying to sell an email service that guarantees you’ll miss some emails? Yet that is what Twitter promises. There is no guarantee you’re seeing all tweets with your username. Twitter provides three primary ways to view tweets:

  1. Mentions: All tweets that includes your @username, e.g. in our case @TweetSmarter
  2. Timeline: All the tweets of all the people you follow (your “followees”—with the exception of certain @ mentions)
  3. Search: This requires more elaboration.

The way most people think of Search (#3) is by going to and entering keywords to find tweets that match. But and many apps also allow you to save searches, and additionally, many apps allow you to “filter” methods #1 and #2, converting them into more complex searches.

What’s the problem?

Whenever you are looking at a filtered stream of tweets, whether your app technically calls it a search or not, you are looking at tweets from the Twitter search API. The problem is this:

Twitter search doesn’t guarantee it will show all tweets, and fails EVERY DAY at least a little bit. And the more tweets there are, the more likely it is that some tweets won’t be shown (a serious problem for popular users).

Plus, there are often issues with Twitter search that Twitter is working on, small errors that cause some searches a small amount of the time to work improperly, beyond the general failure of Twitter search to work perfectly.

What does Twitter say about this?

Mention a specific search that repeatedly fails to Twitter support, and they will repond “Unfortunately, we are unable to provide a specific timeline for this issue.” Press them, and they will a link to this Twitter support page:

Some users may not be seeing their Tweets because of resource constraints….Our search engineers are working on this known issue.” While on that page it suggests this as a reason that you might not be seeing ANY tweets, Twitter support employees link to that page to say, in essence, “Sorry, whether you’re missing a random tweet or a lot of tweets, we’ve publicly pointed this out and are working on it.”

And Twitter sometimes has specific issues with main timelines (tweets from your followers) and mentions timeline (tweets with your username). Some of these issues are never listed in Twitter’s help section, but there are listed as known issues within Twitter.

When Twitter intentionally removes your tweets

Twitter will also remove many tweets on purpose, from accounts that it feels don’t have anything worth adding to search results. In this case, it describes your tweets as “being filtered out of search due to a quality issue.” “Frequent and repetitious status updates may, in some instances, and in combination with other metrics, result in a [low] status quality score for a given account” causing it’s tweets to be removed from “Both the Streaming API and the Search API filter.”

Specific Problems that Twitter does address

Sometimes certain issues with missing tweets get out of hand, and Twitter lists them on their help page, in part to collect comments from users to see how many are affected. But just because an issue is NOT listed here doesn’t mean there is no problem.

How bad is it? Twitter’s “quality” promise

Here are a few highlights from Twitter’s Streaming API Quality of Service section:

  1. Without notice, statuses may be missing from the delivered stream;
  2. Statuses will arrive in any order (not always completely chronological—newer tweets may appear after older tweets);
  3. Duplicate and [unsorted] statuses may be delivered;
  4. The Streaming API may disconnect your connection at any time, perhaps multiple times per day;

Twitter goes on to state that if you are making an app to read tweets for people, “Applications must tolerate duplicate statuses, out-of-order statuses and non-status messages … Proper client coding will prevent data loss due to occasional disconnections.”

Obviously, if tweets are delivered without being too late, apps can mostly sort things out for you. But when they’re very late or completely missing, no such luck. And Twitter does not provide any such “quality” information for the Twitter search API. Of course, if you missed something that is over about a week old, you won’t find it via anymore. And if it’s too many tweets ago, you can find it through special API searches, such as what can do for you, because although the one week limit isn’t used, there are other search limits. Not to mention that API searches can have their own problems.

Does Twitter promise to show all Tweets to anyone?

Twitter says if you buy access to the stream of tweets, you still won’t see them all—they say you will see a “subset”—unless you pay for full access. Yup: you have to pay for special access to see ALL tweets. So although for average users using free tools, Twitter says “resource constraints” may cause you not to see all tweets, if you’ve got the bucks, they will show them all to you, whether the full stream or any search filtered results you wish. This doesn’t make me hopeful that those “resource constraints” are going to go away for average users any time soon. Maybe this is something Twitter would take care of if Google were to buy them out :)

How does this affect you?

In my experience, the most malfunctioning types of searches are

  1. “to:myusername” searches;
  2. Complex, multi-word searches;
  3. Searches that return a lot of results.

This is really, really unfortunate, because these are often the most popular kinds of searches. For example, if you are a popular user trying to see the most relevant tweets with your username in them:

  1. Search #1 doesn’t work consistently;
  2. Doing a search for your username and then filtering to remove retweets (e.g. @username -RT -via) is a type #2 search;
  3. And the fact that you’re popular and get a lot of results to any search for your username makes your searches type #3

However, not all users are always affected equally. Believe it or not, Twitter admits that specific users can have problems while other users remain problem free.

If you are using an app that shows you a search results column, sometimes old tweets will appear suddenly further down the timeline, sandwiched in between other old tweets. That’s right, one moment a tweet from yesterday might now show, and on the next refresh of the column, there it is.

What can you do?

What I do on my @TweetSmarter account is I first reply to all tweets found by filtered searches for mentions of @TweetSmarter.

For example, I’ll do a search that removes common automated tweet types, such as daily twitter “newspapers” and whatever the last spammy game is, filter out follow friday and retweets, and then read the remaining tweets. An example search would look something like this:

@TweetSmarter -#EAv -buzztweetbingo -RT -via -#followfriday -#ff -daily -snowball

And sometimes, I might simply look for users with questions, e.g.

? @TweetSmarter

Then 1-3 times a day, I also check a search for simply @TweetSmarter which returns up to a thousand tweets a day (that’s why I don’t check it first!) I would like to use to:tweetsmarter as a search, but it’s worked so badly for me so many times I mostly just ignore it now.

And just using the “mentions” column won’t protect you from missing Tweets. For example, I just shared this info with a user, who said “I use main Mentions column…just added a search column & instantly see 2 tweets this morning that I didn’t get. Yikes.”

The browser’s cache bypass trick

Twitter will often suggest this, as browser problems are common sources of errors for This is a common solution for missing DMs if you are viewing them on the web interface.

How bad is it in reality? “Each day is a nightmare.”

For the searches outlined above, I find errors every single day in the results Twitter search gives, e.g. Tweets that should show up in my filtered searches…don’t. That’s right, tweets are missing every DAY. And there are probably tweets that I never see, given Twitter’s “resource constraints” and the fact that I don’t pay to see tweets.

Many users, having never tested for this issue, may feel they are seeing all tweets. And they may be. But also, some large users have had communications with Twitter and been misinformed about the problem, in my opinion. For example, on the same day I last tested and found to:username searches to be NOT working (and filed another ticket with Twitter to see what they would say), Twitter employee @Jess was telling Om Malik that it WAS working.

Om’s reply when I informed him? “Each day is a nightmare of sorts now when it comes to Twitter/at replies” Not surprising that @Om would be intimately familiar with the problem, as he is a popular and engaged Twitter user—exactly the kind of user Twitter most wants, and exactly the kind of Twitter user that gets the worst experience in trying to find tweets.

Help! My Tweets Are Missing!

Do NOT leave a comment here that your tweet count is wrong—you need to visit the Twitter page for your issue. Leave a comment only if you have already visited the Twitter page for your issue (see below for links).

UPDATE: Twitter has put out updated statuses from time to time: · November 27 status · December 10 status · May 25 Status


Click the link below that best describes your problem:

TIP: Sometimes switching to will show your missing tweets.

  1. My Tweets and Hashtags are not showing up in search.
  2. My Tweet count is incorrect.
  3. I’m missing mentions and/or @replies.
  4. I have a different Twitter problem—my problem isn’t listed here.
  5. Tweets that should appear in a search don’t

TIP:Clearing your browser cache often fixes some missing tweet problems.

My Tweets And Hashtags Don’t Show Up In Search!

There are several reasons this could be happening. Very old or protected tweets won’t show up, of course. And Tweets from new accounts (or newly changed usernames) can take a few days to show up.
But if those issues are not your problem, do this: log out and log back in at If you see a big red warning saying your email address is having delivery issues, you need to fix it before Twitter will show your tweets in search (links are provided for what to do).

While it’s true that Twitter technical problems can block tweets from showing up in search, you should first check to make sure YOU haven’t broken any of Twitter’s rules or best practices.

Have you broken any Twitter rules?

Twitter will NOT show the tweets of anyone who fails to follow these Twitter rules or these Twitter best practices.

The good news

You can request that Twitter show your tweets in search, but you’ll have to agree to follow the rules and best practices before they will reverse the decision not to show your tweets. File a ticket at and explain that your tweets are missing and you’d like to know what you need to do to have them come back.

Missing Mentions and @Replies

The symptom here is that you’re missing older tweets or seeing an incomplete number of tweets when viewing your @username mentions in the the replies tab on If you cannot page back to see older @username mentions this is your issue. Go here and let Twitter know this affects you.

If you’re just not receiving all my @ replies, know that Twitter is working on a long-term fix for the missing @ replies problem. You need to let them know you’re affected by filing a ticket at

My Tweet Count is Incorrect

This issue is still affecting many people. You can read the latest from Twitter here.