Topsy Search & Twitter Backups

I am a SEO geek – if there were 140 characters on Twitter that have meaning – I might want to be able to find it, or help other people to find it.

I know some people look on SEOs as spammers – some are – I look on my job as helping people find content they are looking for. I am passionate about it. I wouldn’t class myself as white grey or blackhat, but I also try not to do anything that would pollute the web.

It is one of the main reasons I left Twitter. The SEO strategy in place at Twitter was holding my content hostage from normal indexation by Google, and Google have so far failed at indexing historical content.

Topsy Search

I welcome the news yesterday that Topsy have improved their search & Danny has more in-depth coverage.

Topsy has some great search functions – here are some example searches


It is very easy to work out who are your biggest Twitter fans, though there is no way to sort by number of tweets. They have some kind of # tweets x influence calculation.

Andy Beard Supporters

I really haven’t promoted my posts that much compared to many, considering @andybeard was always my official channel.

This method of sorting hides sock puppet bot accounts run by you or others (I don’t have any pimping this site)

Sphinn Pimps

Often people are complaining about excessive self promotion on social media – Topsy makes it fairly easy to work out who is pimping what on sites like Sphinn.

Topsy Sphinn Pimping

Historical Tweets

How many tweets does Topsy have in their archive from me?

Topsy History Andy Beard @andybeard

1075 Tweets (you will see why this is significant later)

Friend Feed

I have a lot of content piped into Friendfeed since it launched but you can’t trust Facebook to keep Friendfeed online, especially the search which for me was one of Friendfeed’s best features.

Friendfeed Search

That was only a temporary glitch – Friendfeed search is working again now, but I didn’t see lots of screaming and blog posts about the demise of Friendfeed search

Finding My Tweets

Can I find the tweets I want to find? No

The alternative is I can back up my own Tweets and then do something with them…. well at least some of them

Twitter only allows your last 3200 tweets to be backed up in any way.

Here are some options

Online Twitter Backup Services

Online services in theory once you join will continue to backup future tweets, and if Twitter ever lift their limits might backup tweets beyond the 3200 limit.

Tweet Backup
So far has managed to retrieve 2080 of my historical tweets which are available in RSS (XML), txt & html format.

Tweet Backup

It works, but with almost 1000 historical tweets not retrieved, they possibly have some bugs to fix.

Tweet Scan
Claims to have retrieved tweets all the way back to Nov 2007 but there seems to be lots missing.

Backup your Twitter account. Your last 1000 messages are downloaded from Twitter and combined with results from our historical database. Tweet Scan can retain your tweets to improve later backups.

What I ended up with – 1076 Tweets

Tweet Scan

That is a screenshot of the html output in TwiddlyWiki format – they also provide CSV – the biggest failing? No dates.

My guesstimate is that of what were retrienved maybe 500 were from the front of my queue, and 500 or so from the history. Some were from earlier periods than found by other services.

Just a sec – 1075 tweets from Topsy search – 1076 from Tweetscan?

It wouldn’t surprise me if all Tweet Scan is doing is a backup of the tweets Topsy have available via API, or just scraping them.

I couldn’t get this to work, it kept throwing up errors suggesting I tried again.

Twitter Safe

Backup My Tweets
Requires you to tweet for access for a year, or pay. Fair exchange, but I am not tweeting… yet.
They also highlighted on the home page that they could only manage 3200 tweets thus they don’t backup any more tweets than anyone else, though with a business model may last longer.

Twitter Backup

Twitter Backup
Allowed me to back up close to the full 3200 tweets (2993 to be precise) in XML format flawlessly in about 1 hour – whilst it asks for a password in the interface, it seems you can enter some random junk and it will use Oauth, thus the programmer is on the ball, though maybe needs to update that interface so it doesn’t even ask for a password.

Twitter Backup

With a desktop app you are not storing any information on a 3rd party server, and as this app is written in Java, you might be able to get it to work on any desktop.

MK Twitter
This seems to be fairly early stage – doesn’t use login at all and gets 3000 or so tweets which is all you can really expect with Twitter’s restrictions. Output stored in a .mdb file for further use.

MK Twitter

Close to 4000 Tweets

Between various combinations of backup service and possibly scraping Friendfeed or Topsy I probably have close to 4000 of my historical tweets. That is over 80%.
I have heard that Twitter have all of them – hopefully one day they will all be available within a searchable interface whether from Twitter, Topsy or Google (who knows Microsoft or Yahoo might surprise us)

But in the 6 months since I left Twitter, they still haven’t fixed their SEO

Soon… maybe even tomorrow I will tell you how to use and abuse Twitter’s current linking structure… for fun or profit.

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  1. says

    Andy, what about using TweetGlide? Can it be of any help to prevent your tweets from being lost? At least for those who might just be starting their Twitter account?

    Influencer you say? Some times I do tweet your post without reading them (would that qualify as “pimping”? :) … I just know your posts will never disappoint.