New Home for Google Realtime Search

Remember when Google promised us they were getting close to being able to provide search results in real-time? Well this week they’ve cracked it.

In an official blog post, Google announced real-time search results are now available. But instead of being integrated into regular search results pages, real-time search has been given it’s own home – a dedicated page for people to conduct searches in real-time.

You can also access Realtime Search by clicking the “Updates” link in the left-hand panel of normal search results. The results appear as a constantly refreshing stream. Your Google Alerts also work with Realtime Search so you can be sent updates for your target searches within minutes of them appearing in Realtime Search.

We’ve been able to see some real-time results in SERPs already, with social search results containing recent Twitter posts and Facebook status updates, however being able to isolate real-time search results from regular organic search results is extremely useful, especially if you are looking for information relating to an event in a specific location or a developing news story.

A couple of handy new features allow you to refine Realtime search results by pinpointing results by location or time and you can even see entire conversations to get context about any topic.

For example, the political situation in Australia is currently in turmoil as the country faces a hung parliament as a result of an election draw. Political developments are in flux and it’s difficult to keep up to date. If I conduct a search for “Australian election” using real-time search, I can see tweets from as recently as 1 minute ago and news stories posted within the last hour.

Realtime Search and updates in Google Alerts are available globally in 40 languages, and the geographic refinements and conversations views are available in English, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. To learn more, visit the Google Realtime Search info page.

Share this post with others

Twitter Adds Local Trends Tracking Tool

Twitter quietly rolled out a new feature today that enables users to choose a regional preference for viewing trending topics.

Called Twitter Local Trends, the new functionality gives users the option to set their regional location and view trending topics happening in their part of the world. For example, one of the screenshots pictured shows that the topic “Trafalgar Square” is trending for users that have United Kingdom set as their region (because it relates to a well known London icon), but not for users that have set their region to Worldwide.

At this stage, only seven countries and 15 cities in the US are available for selection (see screenshot below) but more will be added soon.

According to a post on Mashable, the feature has only rolled out to around 1 percent of Twitter users, but there’s nothing official on the Twitter Blog about it yet. I noticed it in my account this afternoon so I’m not sure if I’m part of the lucky 1 percent or whether it has rolled out to a larger audience since it went live this morning.

Regardless, when it does roll out to everyone, it will make a huge difference to how we use Twitter to target a regional audience. The benefits for geo-based mobile apps like Four Square and Gowalla should be immediately apparent. Add to that the ability to pinpoint regional trends in real time search and this becomes a social media game changer.

Everybody knows a business that is still sceptical about using Twitter. But when they see they have the power to follow and influence social media conversation in their specific target markets using Local Trends, I think even the sceptics could be convinced to start using Twitter as a full time marketing channel.

Share this post with others

Real Time Search Has Arrived!

Google drastically changed the way we search the web this week with two major changes to their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

The first big change was the rollout of personalization to all Google users, whether they are logged in to Google or not. [Editor note: I’ve written a longer article about Personalized Search if you’re interested].

The second change is the introduction of Real Time Search (RTS). Google has added live scrolling web data to the SERPs for timely or popular search queries.

That’s right – you can now view web data, as it is published globally on blogs and social media sites IN REAL TIME.

From the official Google blog post:

“…we’re introducing new features that bring your search results to life with a dynamic stream of real-time content from across the web. Now, immediately after conducting a search, you can see live updates from people on popular sites like Twitter and FriendFeed, as well as headlines from news and blog posts published just seconds before. When they are relevant, we’ll rank these latest results to show the freshest information right on the search results page.”

To enable Real Time Search to become a reality, Google has been working hard for months on partnerships with major social sites such as Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, Jaiku and Identi.ca, as well as Twitter, with whom they partnered back in October. Although they haven’t confirmed it, word on the street is that they are paying Twitter for access to tweet feeds.

Not to be outdone, Yahoo announced a similar deal with Twitter this week, to include tweets in their search results.

So what SERPs include Real Time Search? Google says searches for things like your favorite TV show, sporting events, breaking news stories or the latest developments in politics will trigger RTS.

I ran a couple of test searches and timely topics such as climate change and entertainment-related search queries such as movie titles and celebrities also triggered Real Time Search.

You can see my test tweet including *Michael Jackson* in the Real Time Search results under the heading “Latest Results for Michael Jackson” below:

That’s right, I was able to get featured on the first page of Google results for the search query *Michael Jackson*, simply by including that query in a tweet.

To get an idea of the searches likely to be impacted by RTS, visit Google Trends and view Hot Topics, which is a new feature added today to coincide with Real Time Search going live.

As exciting as Real Time Search is in terms of technological advancement, the real story is how easily RTS can be exploited. You can see how easily I featured on the first page of Google for the year’s most popular search query!

I’m working on a major article about this, but in the meantime, a read of Sebastian’s spam recipe and Sugarrae’s post should be enough to make your eyes widen in alarm.

For more detailed coverage of Real Time Search and screen grabs of it in action, see Danny Sullivan’s two excellent articles on the subject.

Share this post with others