Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The disruptive power of URL shorteners

The popularity of URL shorteners has taken off ever since Twitter launched. We are increasingly seeing the short URLs everywhere. In fact, nobody would ever want to send a regular link again - even via email. Why? Simply because you get the tracking ability when you shorten the URL. For example, gives you the click count on a URL and it gives you an idea about the reach of your network.

However, this blog post is not about the benefit of shortening the URL. Instead, I see in the URL shorteners the power to disrupt the status quo in the search industry. Yes, that's right! Google can be toppled! By these tiny URL shortener companies. I hope Google is reading this.

How you may ask? Here's how. Have you noticed this little button becoming more ubiquitous:

This button is a service provided by Tweetmeme and helps readers do a 1-click tweet of the web page, and I have used this on my website at

Guess what happens when you add this button to your web page? The very first step in generating the button is to shorten the URL by a service like So, the URL shortener is the first one to see your new web page or blog entry as soon as it is born. And guess what, it can be hours or days before this web page shows up in the search results. This is the gap that the URL shorteners can exploit to provide a unique service, and a lucrative one too. Thus, the URL shorteners are becoming the gatekeepers to new web pages. They have new information that nobody else has. And with it, comes the power to disrupt.

Now, a real-time search service (probably there is one already that I am not aware of?) can be built on top of this stream of brand new URLs popping up all over the web. And nobody can beat this service in terms of freshness, not Twitter and not Google. When the results of this real-time service are aggregated with the conventional search engine results, you will have a new order in the search engines. Unless of course, Google buys up all the URL shorteners.

And the search service can be built at a fraction of the cost of Google. You don't need the armies of robots to discover these new URLs. They are being offered to the URL shorteners on a golden platter.

So, if the URL shorteners don't get into the search business, they will be very quickly acquired by one of the search companies. Expect these acquisitions to be have a huge price tag!

Follow kiran_achyutuni on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Twitter vs Google: Twitter Winning

I am simply blown away by the power of real-time search in Twitter. Provided you choose to follow the right people, you can get a wealth of high-quality relevant real-time information from Twitter.

Google prides itself on providing relevant and fresh results but the little blue bird is beating the gorilla hands down. So, why is this? It's because of millions of users constantly searching their favorite corners of the web and tweeting about interesting articles. The collective search power of humans is trumping the computer algorithms of Google.

The question arises -can this be automated? Yes, parts of it can be automated - as in RSS feeds etc. The search engines can be informed in real-time about the existence of new content. So, why are Google and other search engines lacking? The answer is that a human being is the ultimate judge in quality and relevance, and that cannot be automated. Whenever a Tweet happens about a particular story, the user has voted on it about its quality. The Tweeter has put his/her reputation on the line by recommending a link. That's why it is a high-quality recommendation. The relevant users pick it up and it spreads like wild fire. It's the user community that is making the difference in Twitter and putting it over the top.

By the way, my use of Google search has decreased after discovering the power of Twitter! Has yours too?

Some useful links
  1. Official Twitter 101 for business
  2. Top 10 Twitter tips for Beginners (from PC Magazine)
  3. Technorati's @twitter_tips (articles from the blogsphere that are tagged as twitter_tips)
  4. Alltop twitter Stories (Keep track of the latest stories on Twitter)
  5. 105 Twitter apps for PR (although it is directed to PR people, this is a useful list of all audiences).