In its current state, Twitter’s search function offers a quick way to size up in real-time what people are saying on Twitter — but not much else. That’s about to change — with potentially big implications for a future Twitter business model. CNET reports that Twitter VP of Operations Santosh Jayaram talked during a panel Wednesday about two additions coming to Twitter Search. Most notably, Jayaram said Twitter Search will soon index not only the text of Twitter posts but also the pages that Tweets link to. Some popular results will also be ranked based on a Tweeter’s reputation.
Already, Twitter has pushed the prominence of search on its site, by putting links to Twitter Search on all of its pages. But there have been some obvious questions about its utility. For instance, sure, it’s neat to see how many people are talking about Britney Spears at the moment, but you might still be one step away from what is actually causing them to talk about Spears. Similarly, as CNET’s Rafe Needleman points out, with hundreds of people re-tweeting each other’s tweets, search results can be repetitive.
Twitter Search is likely the easiest area for Twitter to monetize on its site (People are already used to seeing ads adjacent to search results, while an ad in a stream on a profile page would likely be considered disruptive). Transform Twitter Search into an actual real-time Internet search engine with results determined by what Twitterers are linking to and more people, including many non-Tweeters, will likely use it. No wonder Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) are all rumored to be hovering.