Two years after purchasing the best Twitter search engine, Apple kills Topsy.com. Topsy.com searched tweets and real time and the entire Twitter archive. It provided simple, but valuable stats for how frequently any keyword or hashtag was used, allowing us to determine if the search term was a flash in the pan or an ongoing conversation community. Topsy also gave us sentiment scores for keyword searches, and told us how often a link was shared. These metrics were invaluable to social media managers and strategists. Now that Topsy is gone, where can we turn to avoid getting all turvy?

Today, when visiting Topsy.com, you are redirected to Support.Apple.com, where you are informed that Apple’s iOS9 search via iPhone 5 or later, iPad and iPod touch have new and improved search ability. In addition to searching your device, Apple’s Siri-powered Search reaches out to the internet. By incorporating Topsy’s data into Search, all of Twitter is made accessible.

I tested the new iOS9 Search on my iPhone and found 1) only a couple of tweets were returned, with no link to the full Twitter archive, and 2) none of the metrics previously provided by Topsy were returned. In other words, Apple stripped away the best parts of Topsy: its historical archive and metrics.

While no single tool is likely to replace Topsy—certainly not among the free tools—there are some alternatives we can turn use. Here are a few that we recommend:

  • SocialMention.com – SocialMention.com is a complete social media search engine, as opposed to Topsy, which searched only Twitter. But by selecting to search only microblogs, you essentially are searching Twitter, since it is the dominant microblogging platform. While the results do not include the raw numbers of tweets for the query broken out by day, week and month as Topsy did, it does provide sentiment, the number of unique authors, how many retweets and the rate of mentions (how many seconds between mentions).
  • IceRocket.com – IceRocket.com, purchased a few years ago by Meltwater, will search blogs, Twitter or both. It provides the number of tweets in the results, but is unclear about how far back in time the results go.
  • Twitter.com/search-homeTwitter’s own search engine will return tweets meeting the search criteria, but does not include metrics.

The bottom line is that none of the free alternatives to Topsy fill the hole completely. Of those available, SocialMention.com is the closest.