Twitter is now surfacing more relevant content in its search results pages after overhauling its algorithm. The social platform has traditionally used a reverse-chronological order to showcase posts, but in a blog post earlier this week, software engineer Lisa Huang detailed how it has introduced a new “relevance order.”
Twitter began sorting top Tweets on search pages based on relevance of a search query back in September, and it has slowly been conducting experiments and changing its formula to ensure that users always get the content that they need, when they need it, using the search function.
However, the new search engine system is not entirely relevance-based just yet, as a query will also bring up a mass of reverse-chronological content. This means that the three or four Tweets at the very top of search results are sorted by relevance, while the rest are sorted just like before, using the traditional system.
A Twitter spokesperson said that while the top Tweets section has been favouring relevancy more during recent months, recency will continue to be a strong signal. Users can also find a complete list of reverse-chronological results by navigating to the “Latest” tab on the platform’s SERPs.
SEO website Search Engine Land tested the new system earlier this week and found that recent posts still appeared to feature heavily compared to more relevant, older content. However, it did confirm that the situation was a vast improvement from tests in May this year, which failed to surface any useful videos or posts.
In order to update its search results system, Twitter said that it had tested a range of different ranking algorithms, the candidates for the relevance-ordered results and the number of out-of-order Tweets to pull up. Through experimentation and overcoming challenges with balancing results and their density, it said that it had finally been rolling out meaningful updates.
The move has already paid off, according to Twitter, as more users are now engaging with search results, which in turn has been hugely beneficial to keeping people on the platform and increasing the number of Tweets that they actually make. While it remains focused on relevance, Twitter confirmed that it will be looking to surface a wider variety of tweets in the near future.