Saturday, May 21, 2011

Counting Tweets Shows Tweet Counts of All Links on Any Page

Previously, I wrote about two excellent Twitter search engines - Topsy and Ubervu - that lets you find not only great stories shared on the micro blogging network but also use it as research tool to find about any website’s popularity on Twitter – which links were shared the most, who shared it, broken down by timeline and all. Apparently, Topsy has an API which has been utilized to build a useful Twitter application called Counting Tweets.

Almost every websites and blogs today display a vast number of social media sharing buttons including the ubiquitous Facebook like button, like trophies on a shelf. These buttons often carry a counter that display the number of times a story has been shared on different social networking sites. Counting Tweets can be called a type of Twitter counter, but not quite.

The user enters the URL of a website or page on Counting Tweets, and it displays the tweet count against all links that occur on the page as little colored boxes overlaid on the page itself. Three different colors allow you to quickly identify a link’s ranking in popularity. Links with up to 100 retweets are indicated in green, orange signifies up to 500 retweets and bright red indicates hot topics that receive more than 500 tweets.


Counting Tweets can look up only the first 150 URLs that it finds on the page. But the real problem with the service is that Topsy API has a limit 10,000 URL lookups in an hour which can easily get exceeded if too many people use the service. Since it checks up to 150 links on a URL, a little math brings the figure to around 60 page checks per hour. This is, however, considering that each page has 150 or more URLs to check. As most pages have significantly less number of URLs, Counting Tweets should comfortably handle traffic several times that number.

A few things to note:

  • By default, it only looks up URLs that have a date or numeric ID in them. This is a crude way to filter down the page to just stories rather than looking up things like page nav.
  • It rewrites the URLs to point to their page on Topsy, so clicking on a link will take you to the Topsy page that shows all the tweets about that URL.
  • Depending upon a site’s HTML structure, the numeric overlays work better in some sites than others. 
  • Topsy also doesn’t deal well with URLs that have the id of the story or post in the querystring, since it ignores everything after the querystring when searching. So your mileage may vary on sites with urls like post.php?id=12345.

[via Search Engine Journal]


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