Twitter announced this week that they were launching a brand new search, one that would show you not the most recent tweets about a given topic, but the most relevant. And along with this announcement, they revealed some pretty neat stats about just how popular Twitter search is.
The Twitter Engineering blog took a close look at Twitter search’s behind-the-scenes action. They explained that the new search required two new pieces of search infrastructure: relevance filtering and the identification of relevant images and photos.
So, not only did the Twitter search engineering team (which, incidentally, grew from three to 15 since 2008) have to build new infrastructure, it had to do so while handling some massive query numbers.
In 2008, for instance, Twitter search handled an average of 200 queries per second. By October 2010, this number had grown to 12,000 queries per second. By this past April, Twitter search was serving up 18,000 queries per second, which equals about 1.6 billion per day.
That’s right – there are 1.6 billion searches for trends, favorite comedians, the latest news items and Twitter tips via Twitter search each and every day.
It’s interesting to note that the Twitter Engineering blog puts queries per second at about 18,000, but tweets per second at only 2,200. If that doesn’t show that Twitter is still more of a listening tool for many of its users, I don’t know what does.
If you are curious about search architecture or how the Twitter engineering team works, the blog post is worth a read in its entirety. It explains how they sort the 2,200 tweets per second into relevant results for Twitter’s new search, how they remove duplicates, make it personal, find images and videos and more.