For some time, Twitter has offered search through its users' Tweets in near-real-time. But the company said the approach had been clunky. With Discovery, which is currently in testing, the idea makes Twitter search more user-friendly -- placing it in the site's left-hand content column -- while incorporating new features like saved searches and clickable "Trend" keywords that enable users to seek out related posts.
It's an important move for the microblogging service, according to observers. For all of its enormous popularity, Twitter was becoming little more than an API provider for a growing number of richer, more complex services, such as Twitterfall, the Twitteroo client, Tweetdeck, Twhirl, Splitweet and CoTweet, among others.
The proliferation of third-party clients and services may have contributed to the company's overall user base, but with no real incentive to interacting with Twitter's own site, their increasing reliance on third-party could make for less of a chance for Twitter.com to monetize its traffic.
Now users have a reason to visit Twitter.com -- and Twitter may have a plan to make money.
"A lot of third parties have created interesting utilities and productivity tools for Twitter, but this is Twitter's staff creating its own, which is especially important if it's looking to monetize its services," Caroline Dangson, research analyst for social media with IDC, told InternetNews.com
The Discovery engine was unveiled on Twitter's own developer blog. The feature is currently being tested by select users before full rollout.
"We are loving this implementation of Twitter Search and the technical infrastructure to support it is mostly in place. We'll gather a bit more feedback from our test group and then get these features out to everyone as soon as possible," the company wrote in its update.
The company also promised that Discovery's new features -- like trends and saved searches, which enables users to permanently track particular topics or keywords -- will be available to all applications that use its API.
Dangson said these features will make it easier to wade through the tidal wave of tweets and follow what she wants, not to mention giving Twitter a way to put ads around relevant content.
"I can't read all the blogs out there today, but Twitter helps me filter by my own feed and based on what I'm following. Today's announcement shows they are making moves to monetize that," she said. "This whole idea of being able to search for info and have a relevant newsfeed will be an important feature that can be monetized."
This article was first published on InternetNews.com.