If you type any word or series of words into Twitter’s search box it will return a series of tweets, in reverse chronological order, where those words have been used. This is how search engines typically work, and most people know that.
What many of those same people don’t know is that Twitter’s search functionality is really, really clever. How smart? Well, how about this: it can easily track any web page that has been shared on Twitter… even if it’s hidden inside another URL.
That’s right – Twitter search is smart enough to look inside a shortened URL for the information you require. As far as I can tell it doesn’t seem to matter which URL shortener is used to make the link (bit.ly, bit.ly Pro, ow.ly, and so on) – Twitter is savvy enough to figure it out.
You can enter the full URL for very specific, targeted results, or you can use a partial to cast a wider net. For example, here’s a search for AllTwitter:
Twitter defaults to Top Tweets for its searches – that is, tweets from the profiles it feels have the most weight. (If you don’t get any results, this is probably why.) You can refine this output by clicking on the dropdown menu and changing either to All, which shows everything.
As you can see there are four different kinds of URL shortener (bit.ly, is.gd, mbist.ro and ow.ly) being used in the results above (across both images), all of which contain the term AllTwitter in the URL, which in this case is our domain. Note that the keyword itself does not show up separately in all of the tweets – only in some of them.
Which means that, as well as scanning the tweet itself, Twitter search is looking inside the link for that keyword.
This is great for so many reasons, but it’s particularly useful for real-time tracking of a blog post you’ve just published and submitted to Twitter, as you’ll get a result for each every person who shares it, irrespective of how they do it, or what they used.
Want the better news? This works for everything.
Twitter will look for mention of any word within a URL, again no matter whether or how it has been shortened. You can even search for full URLs and Twitter will look for these inside shortened links accordingly. For example, here’s a search for the full URL of my article from earlier today:
The promoted tweet aside, note that, again, there are a number of different URLs visible in the results above – the important part is they all link to the same place, which is the URL I have searched for.
The only negative with using Twitter in this way is, like everything else on the platform, searches are limited to tweets made in the past seven days.
As usual with Twitter search, you can leave this window open in the background and results will continue to update indefinitely. These searches also work in your favourite Twitter client, such as HootSuite or TweetDeck.
This is really powerful stuff. Make the most of it.