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The Ultimate Guide to Twitter Advanced Search

Danny Schreiber
Danny Schreiber / August 5, 2014

Whether or not you've signed up for Twitter, you have the power to perform detailed queries on the endless stream of Tweets by employing the site's Advanced Search. The feature isn't behind a login and it doesn't take long to learn a few tricks to make your Twitter searches extremely effective.

This guide presents over 40 tips to help you better use Twitter Advanced Search to find sales leads in your area, keep tabs on your brand or follow a topic important to you. It also offers an easy way to set up email notifications for results or a Google Docs spreadsheet to ongoing results.

Index


Know the Difference Between Search and Advanced Search

Twitter Search for Users

If you've ever searched for word or phrase on Twitter, you've likely used the site's toolbar search field (above), mobile app search or the search page for non-users. Each of these works great if you're performing a quick search for a word or phrase. If you need more specific results, however, they'll either come up short or leave you with a headache from remembering the needed "search operators", additions to the search field that perform an advanced query.

Twitter search operators

To get more detailed results—and avoid having to manually enter search operators—rely on Twitter's Advanced Search, which is available when using Twitter's web app. To access it, either visit twitter.com/search-advanced or click "Advanced Search" in the left-hand menu bar on a Twitter Search results page. The page that loads might surprise you with its many options—you're able to search Twitter for specific phrases, find Tweets to or from a user or narrow down Tweets by location. You can even surface only the Tweets that have a happy sentiment. :)

Twitter Advanced Search

Before we dive into explaining each of the Twitter Advanced Search fields, it's important to point out three things: you can use a combination of search fields, toggle between "top" and all Tweets and segment results to narrow in on people, photos, videos and more that fit your query.

Use a Combination of Search Fields

To find even more specific results, you're able to combine Advanced Search fields. For example, let's say you wanted to find all Tweets from Buffer co-founders Joel Gascoigne and Leo Widrich that contain a link—the duo regularly share great content around remote working, company culture and productivity. To do so, you'd use a combination of the "All of these words" (http, which only surfaces Tweets with links) and "From these accounts" (joelgascoigne leowid) fields. That's a fairly simple use case, but you be as specific as you want here. For example, when Unbounce released it guide to webinar marketing, they could have found interested individuals by searching for Tweets that contained "webinar", "marketing" and a "?" and excluded Tweets that had their username or URL.

Beware "Top Tweets" Results

Top Tweets

After a search either from the toolbar or Advanced Search, the first results you see are "Top" Tweets. According to Twitter, "Top Tweets are Tweets that lots of people are interacting with and sharing via retweets, replies, and more." The company doesn't hand-select the Tweets, but instead employs an "algorithm that finds the Tweets that have caught the attention of other users."

To see all the results you're looking for, you'll want make sure to toggle to "All" Tweets—just click "All" on the top of the results Twitter stream.

Explore the Different Results

Advanced Twitter Search different results

In addition to "Top" and all, you're able to narrow in on a few different type of results, namely people, photos, videos, news, Tweets from people you follow and Tweets near you. You're also able to surface Twitter lists and collections (timelines) that relate to your query.

  1. People - Accounts (both people and other entities) whose usernames or bios match your search query
  2. Photos - Tweets that contain a link from Twitter's native photo service, pic.twitter.com
  3. Videos - Tweets that contain a video link, such as youtube.com or vimeo.com
  4. News - Tweets that contain a link to a news site, such as Huffington Post or The Next Web
  5. Timelines - Twitter Lists and Collections whose name or bio matches your search query
  6. People you follow - Surface only Tweets that match your search query and are from the accounts you follow
  7. Near you - Tweets that fit your search query and are "near you", though Twitter doesn't define the distance (to use this, make sure your location is turned on)

Learn Common Search Queries

Common Search Queries

With the basics down, let's dive into the first set of fields in Advanced Search: Words.

1. All of These Words

Enter two or more words to find Tweets that contain—in no particular order—those terms. You're also able to insert one or more phrases here, too, by indicating the start and end of each phrase with quotations (e.g."say hello" "say goodbye").

2. This Exact Phrase

This field is limited to one phrase and unlike search fields elsewhere, you don't need to put quotations around your phrase—it does that for you. This can be a helpful field to search for quotes or full names.

3. Any of These Words

Each word or phrase (using quotations) you enter is separated by an "OR" when the search query is performed.

If you're searching for brand mentions on Twitter, you'll want to use this field to not only find Tweets with your Twitter handle, but with your company name and website, as well. So, you'd enter @Zapier Zapier #Zapier zapier.com, which Twitter then converts to contain the search operator "OR"—@zapier OR zapier OR #zapier OR zapier.com.

search query
search operator

Note: Twitter searches aren't case sensitive—a capitalized search term (Zapier) will return both lowercase and capitalized words.

4. None of These Words

This field is easy to overlook but it's a powerful one. Whatever term or phrase you put here will remove Tweets from your results that contain that word or phrase. Effective uses of this field would be to filter out Tweets that contain a competitor's name, link (use http) or promotional hashtag. This is a great way to cut through the noise and listen to what's really important.

5. These Hashtags

Narrow in on hashtags with this field, though you can search hashtags from other fields, as well.

6. Written In (Language)

Surface only Tweets that are written in one of the 50 language options listed in this field.


Find Tweets From and To Specific Users

people

The next three search fields allow you to narrow in on specific users that are either the author or recipient of the Tweet or are mentioned in it.

7. From These Accounts

Find the username of one or several accounts and enter it here with or without the "@" sign.

8. To These Accounts

Again, just enter the username of one or several accounts is needed.

9. Mentioning These Accounts

Same here, too, simply enter the username of one or several accounts.


Surface Tweets by Location (Places)

Tweets by location

In order for this next field to work, you'll need to have location turned on in your account. Visit the Twitter support docs to learn more.

To surface Tweets or users in a specific area, employ this field by either entering an address, city, state, postal code or country, or for more accurate results, a geocode (the latitude and longitude of a place separated by a comma). By default, Twitter searches a 15-mile radius of the area you've entered. If you want to customize this radius, you'll need to use the search operators in the toolbar search field, e.g. SXSW near:Austin within:15mi or SXSW near:Austin within:5km.

Find Tweets by Location Using Advanced Search

Enter either the name of the location, which could be the full address or just the city, state, postal code or country, or geocode. Cities that share a name, however, will turn up results from both cities. Results will be from inside a 15-mile radius of the location.

Find Tweets by Location Using the Toolbar Search (Recommended)

This is a bit more work, but it yields more precise results because you can edit the default 15-mile radius. To do so, use this query: near:{location} within:{distance}mi or near:{location} within:{distance}km. The location can be either the full address, just the city, state, postal code or country, or geocode.

To combine this with a search term, you'll need use the Twitter search operators, once again. For example, here's the search query you'd use to find Tweets within a two-mile radius of the Austin Convention Center, home to South by Southwest: SXSW OR "South by Southwest" near:30.263559,-97.739525 within:2mi.

How to Find the Geocode of a Location

There are several routes to find the geocode of a place, but a reliable one is to search for the place on Google Maps and pull the latitude and longitude out of the URL.

find the geocode

See Tweets by a Date Range

Tweets by date range

This recent addition to Twitter's advanced search makes it incredibly easy to search for Tweets either before or after a date or between two dates.


Fine-Tune Your Search

Fine-Tune Your Search

There are a few final search options along with a short list of tips—some already shared above—that can refine your search even finer.

1. See Results for Only the People You Follow

People you follow

On the results page, click "People you follow" to pare down the Tweets to only those authored by accounts that you follow.

2. Filter Out Tweets with Links

filter out links

To cut through the noise and hone in on conversations happening on Twitter, use a search query that filters out links. For example, if your company publishes a blog in addition to providing a product or service, filtering out links is a quick way to focus on Tweets about your offering rather than those related to your blog posts.

Do this by either entering http in the "None of these words" Advanced Search field or add the operator -http to a search from the toolbar.

3. Show Only Tweets with Links

Show Only Tweets with Links

Conversely, you might want to narrow in on Tweets that mention your product or service and contain a link. To capture every Tweet with a link, include http in the "All of these words" field or use the search operative filter:links.

You can also use this method to find Tweets related to a specific blog post by entering the full URL—for example, https://zapier.com/blog/scale-yourself-scott-hanselman/—instead of just http.

4. Focus on Questions Only

If you do customer support, this is a handy option. On top of your search terms, check the "Question ?" box to surface only Tweets that are asking a question.

5. Find Happy and Sad Tweets

Often called the Tweet sentiment, you're able to expose only Tweets that contain a happy :) or sad face :(.

6. Include Retweets

Include Retweets

The final option of Advanced Search lets you "Include retweets", but after several searches with it checked and unchecked, search results don't differ. If you're aware of how this modifies searches, please leave a comment below.


Save Your Search

save your search

With the tips above, you'll hopefully be able to write just the right query for your Twitter Advanced Search. And after you've done so, it'd sure be a shame to let that query disappear, so don't miss the feature that lets you save your search. (You'll need to be logged into Twitter to see the option.)

saved searches example

To later access a saved search query, just click in the toolbar search field, which also shows recent searches.


Get Notifications for New Search Results

Saving a search query can be a handy way to stay on top of important Tweets, but there's an even easier way to do this by using Zapier. With a few clicks, you can set automation that will send new search results to your inbox, phone or team chat app.

When setting up Twitter search automation on Zapier, you'll need to use a search query string that employs Twitter's search operators. There's a shortcut to generating such a string—use the Advanced Search and then copy and paste the string that appears on the results page.

query string short cut

Log Results to a Google Docs Sheet

If receiving notifications for each new search mention isn't a necessity, but instead it's a record of the Twitter activity around a product launch, event or promotion, you can also use Zapier to save Tweets that meet your query.


Save Favorited Tweets, Too

When searching for Tweets, you might come across ones you want to save for testimonials on your site. To keep a record of these, you can set up a Zapier automation that logs any Tweet you favorite in a Google Docs spreadsheet.


More Twitter Search Tips

Twitter search is an evolving feature so do expect small or major changes to any of the above going forward, but hopefully this guide gives you more search prowess today.

As you dig into Twitter search, what do you find works well? Did I miss a trick or tip above? Please share it in the comments if so!

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Alex Minchin, Managing Partner at Zest

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