Over on the official blog, Twitter communications/PR associate Carolyn Penner (@cpen, who Twitter snatched away from Google last March) writes about improvements that have been made to Twitter’s search functionality.

We’ve made it easier to find and follow Twitter accounts based on your interests. When you search for a topic, you can now discover accounts that are relevant to that particular subject. (Previously, you would have seen accounts that have the specific term in their name or username. ) Just click on the “people” section of the search results page or search from the “Who to follow” page.

This new approach helps you find the Twitter users that will best help you follow your interests. For example, if you’re interested in hip hop, chances are that you’d like to follow hip hop artists. Searching for “hip hop” now surfaces accounts like @commonand @questlove. (Previously, we typically showed accounts that have “hip hop” in the name.)

Using the example Carolyn provides, here’s a screenshot of a search for hip hop:

OK, great. Can’t see myself using a lot of this but it’s always nice to see new features.

Here’s what I don’t get. This new search functionality has been added to Twitter.com and the advanced search page therein (which you can find here), but search.twitter.com – which I personally use 99% of the time for my searches on the network – is still the same-old, bare bones, left-outside-the-church unwanted baby it always has been.

What’s that about? Is Twitter phasing out search.twitter.com? You have to wonder. A year ago, almost to the day, seach.twitter.com racked up almost 3 million uniques (according to Compete). In February of this year the number dropped to 635,061, and has been on a steady decline for the past 8-9 months.

If that isn’t a neglected infant I don’t know what is. And it’s all because Twitter never, ever talks about it.

I speak to people all the time who have been using Twitter for months – sometimes years – and when I mention search.twitter.com they look at me like I’m speaking in tongues (which, depending on when and where this conversation took place, can be an appropriate perspective). This used to really surprise me but it’s clear that the company isn’t exactly screaming about it from the rooftops. So nobody uses it, Twitter talks about it even less, and uniques drop by almost 80% in a year.

Okay, so the design looks like crap and this and the URL is probably really confusing for lots of users, but come on – either prop it up and do it justice or cut it loose. Especially as you’ve shown yourself to be so keen to go after people who are stepping on its toes.