December 13, 2009

Icerocket's Blog Search, Twitter Search Tough to Top

With all the recent news around Bing and Google making deals with Twitter to gain a foothold in the world of real-time search, not much has been said about the often frustrating world of blog search, and not a peep has been made about Icerocket, a company I'd myself largely neglected until a few months ago, having mentally relegated it to the Technorati-like category of Web 2.0 dustbins. But very quietly, Icerocket has built out what I believe to be the best blog search out there, and its Twitter search is quite potent as well. I have been using it exclusively to find links to my blog, and its relevancy blows Google Blog Search out of the water, barring any upgrades from Mountain View.

Aside from an October post from Doc Searls, Icerocket's improvements have practically been invisible. But it's a disservice to the site, which has easy to find RSS feeds for any search, total number of positive hits in the database by URL, and improvements on the standard Twitter search that include the "smack your forehead and say 'duh'" additions of retweeting and replying to any successful search result, which Twitter's search engine lacks today.

In years past, most bloggers have turned to Technorati or Google Blog Search to find relevant posts. Google Blog Search does a great job finding keywords, and until the most recent revamp, Technorati did the best job in finding which sites were linking your way. (In March, I even said Technorati was trumping Google for blog reactions) The October update to Technorati (covered here) added some interesting twists, but the "reactions" function that I liked has pretty much become impossible to use, or disappeared.

Icerocket, which CrunchBase reports gained its first funding round way back in 2004, from Mark Cuban, has not gotten some of the buzz that other real-time search companies, including Collecta, Topsy and OneRiot, have, but its results are top-notch. Like any good blogger, I've bookmarked a search on the site to find links my way, and more often than not, Google's Blog Search doesn't find them for me in the database.

Compare for yourself: Google Blog Search vs. Icerocket Blog Search

Recent Links to the Blog, Via Icerocket

Icerocket does more than just find the most answers. It highlights the ranking of the domain being searched in its database (mine has hovered just below 2,000), and shows the rank of linking blogs - a simple way to assume "Authority", including the total number of references these downstream blogs have. Also, helpfully, the results are sorted by date! Not bad. Google Blog Search won't do that. Icerocket also lets you display total results for a specific post, by URL.

Some Notable Blogs' Rankings in Icerocket

More than 20 Blogs Linked to My Recent FTC Badges Post

Similarly, Icerocket thumps Twitter Search for the same results.

Compare for yourself: Twitter Search to that of Icerocket Twitter Search

Some Twitter Results from Icerocket's Search

Icerocket's Twitter search results are the same as those presented by the microblogging giant, but in addition to the standard responses, you see the number of people following those mentioning a keyword, you see more results on one page, and have the smart additions of "Reply" and "RT" at the end of each result, having you one step away from making an action on the search. In contrast, to do so on Twitter Search, you would need to click the timestamp of the specific update, and then, from that window, hit reply or retweet.

You can even tell Icerocket to show all tweets, just those containing links, or those without links. Also helpful? A cool tool that shows common followers on Twitter of selected users, up to four, saying who follows all of those specified, and who all four follow. (Here's an example with @dewitt, @louisgray, @arrington and @jenna.)

Want to See Who Follows Who? Try Icerocket.

Just about the only thing Icerocket is not doing when it comes to Twitter search results is having the newest flow in from the top to present the illusion of real time. Instead, to get the newest answers, you still have to refresh. It's a small price to pay for a single site that offers great blog search and Twitter search results in one. I've switched. I just wonder if Icerocket, considered an older property, can have new users recognize its new life.