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, 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.

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Google Adds Twitter Accounts to Press Center

Earlier this year I wrote a post on SiteProNews about how excited Google was becoming about Twitter and how quickly they were creating new Twitter accounts.

Well Google has taken their endorsement of Twitter to a new level this week, with the addition of a directory of their official Twitter accounts to the Press Center.

I discovered the new directory when I visited the Press Center today and was greeted with the message:

“New! Browse our official list of Google’s Twitter accounts”.

Clicking on the related link brings up a comprehensive list of 87 official Twitter accounts representing almost all of Google’s products and tools, as well as many of the Google regions worldwide. When I viewed it, the Twitter directory page hadn’t even been cached yet, indicating that it’s pretty new.

Prior to this new directory, Google’s Twitter accounts were being added to the related post on the official Google blog, but the new directory lists 16 more Twitter accounts, making it the authority now.

Google’s decision to create such a large number of Twitter accounts and link to them in such a prominent location highlights their continued infatuation with Twitter. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were dating with a view to forming a long term partnership.

What do you think? Please add your comments below.

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New Zealand Twitter User Directory

Although I have a TweetDeck group dedicated to New Zealand based Twitter users, it’s still difficult to keep tabs on who is who and where they’re located.

My frustration hit an all-time high while trying to organize a Christchurch-based tweetup the other day so I decided to create a directory listing all the New Zealand tweeps that I follow based on location, linking to their Twitter profiles.

It struck me that others might find this helpful so I’ve opened up the post to all NZ based Twitter junkies. Feel free to add other NZ tweeple and their locations (nearest major city only please) in the comments and I’ll add them to the relevant sections.


















@kalena (yours truly)























































Also see

New Zealand Wide (not location specific)











New Zealand Corporate





See also:

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Twitter’s New Retweet and Why You Shouldn’t Hate It

Twitter tools

Twitter began rolling out their controversial new Retweet functionality last week to quite a large number of beta testers, me included.

Old Skool Retweeting

In the past, when Twitter users wanted to repeat the tweet of somebody they followed, they would simply use the *RT* or *via* syntax in front of the twitter handle of the person whose tweet they were repeating, to signify attribution.

For example:

@kalena: wondering why monosyllabic isn’t.

@bob: RT @kalena wondering why monosyllabic isn’t.

@jane: wondering why monosyllabic isn’t. (via @kalena)

Some Twitter clients have built-in functionality to enable people to retweet other’s tweets automatically this way and add the RT syntax with one click.

Now, Twitter has introduced functionality that streamlines the process of retweeting and makes it more intuitive for the user.

New School Retweeting

If you’ve been granted access to Retweet beta, when you login to, you’ll see the following message about it at the top of your timeline:


“Hi there, you’re part of a beta group receiving this feature, which means you may start seeing retweets in a new way. People who don’t have this yet will see your retweets prefaced by *RT*”

Once Retweet is active in your account, you’ll see a new Retweets section in the side bar where you can see “Retweets by others”, “Retweets by you”, and “Your tweets, retweeted”:


Users that you follow will have a new retweet icon appear under their profile picture when you view their timelines. Hover your mouse over the icon and it says “Retweets from this user will appear in your timeline”.

Next to each tweet in your home timeline, you’ll now see the “Retweet” option as well as the “Reply” and “Favorite” options.

When you see a tweet you’d like to tell your followers about, click on the “Retweet” link and a popup will ask “Retweet to your followers?” and provide you with a Yes button to proceed or a X to cancel. Once you click Yes, the tweet will be sent out and appear ONLY to your followers. You also have the ability to permanently *undo* your retweet at any point.


Retweets sent this way by those you follow will be identifiable by a special Retweet icon next to them in your timeline. (Except, it seems, any retweets of YOUR tweets. A tweet that already exists in your timeline won’t reappear at the top if someone you follow retweets it, but it will be added to your RT list).

Retweets will also have extra attribution underneath them stating “Retweeted by [user] and [#] others” where “user” indicates the person who retweeted it and “#” represents the number of others who have retweeted the same tweet.

Retweets sent via the new system will only display the RT icon when you’re logged in to Twitter. When you’re viewing a timeline with new Retweets in it while logged out of Twitter, those tweets will just have “RT” in front of them and no attribution underneath.

You can see a visual breakdown of new retweeting in action here.


The Tweeps Are Revolting

Although I’d read about the new feature, I’ve been finding it hard to get my head around. Now that I’ve got beta access, I’m even more confused.

Judging by some of the Twitter commentary taking place between beta users, it seems I’m not the only one who is initially unimpressed.

A major sticking point for some users is the loss of the ability to edit or append comments to the tweet you are retweeting. This is a big change from old skool retweeting and has some users in knots.

Another major irritant for some beta testers is that Retweets by persons you follow will appear in your timeline in pure context – so even if you don’t follow the person who made the original tweet, you’ll see their Twitter avatar and tweet in your timeline with the “retweeted by” attribution underneath. Complaints about this have started already.


A poll launched by a Retweet beta user tells the story quite well. Asked “How do you feel about twitter’s new integrated retweet feature?”, 6% of poll takers claim to “love it”, while 43% “prefer the original method” of retweeting and the remaining respondents (51%) feel “It has potential but still needs work”.

Why Change?

So if the organic RT functionality was working so well, why did Twitter executives decide they needed to legitimize it? For a lot of reasons, as it turns out.

Organic retweeting had the following issues:

  • attribution confusion
  • too many identical retweets
  • lost context due to editing original tweets
  • faked RTs caused by persons falsely retweeting another user
  • 140 character limitation making RT attribution challenging
  • no trackability

But even though the new Retweet overcomes the disadvantages of the old skool retweet, users are clearly threatened by the changes.

I think it’s stirring people up mainly because the whole concept of retweeting was developed ad hoc by Twitter users. They began sharing tweets by people they followed with their own followers, adding “retweet” or “RT” in front of the tweet to indicate such.

The developers of Twitter apps caught on to the RT popularity and many of them added retweet functionality to their Twitter clients. Not surprisingly, Twitter users are protective of the function and have certain expectations when it comes to official integration of the functionality.

Rather than simply imitate 3rd party Twitter client developers and add a RT button on, Twitter executives wanted to build something with more scope.

According to his blog post this week, Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams (@Ev) fully expected the Retweet feature to be controversial. But, he says, the new feature resolves many of the technical issues that organic retweets were causing:

“The design is simple: There’s a retweet link by each tweet and, with two clicks, it will be sent on to your followers. This takes care of the mangled and messy problem because no one gets an opportunity to edit the tweet.”

“ The meta data (about who tweeted and who retweeted) is not in the tweet text itself, so they never have to be edited for length. Because they’re built natively into the system, they’re trackable. And because they’re trackable, we can take care of the redundancy problem: You will only get the first copy of something retweeted multiple times by people you follow.”

Evan also has a response for people complaining about seeing the avatars of people they don’t follow in their timeline:

“The drawback is that it may be a little surprising (unpleasant even, for some) to discover avatars of people they don’t follow in their timeline. I ask those people to keep in mind the following: You’re already reading the content from these people via organic retweets. This is just giving you more context.”

Evan also says that retweet annotation, (where you can add a comment or hashtag to a retweet), may be added as a feature in a later version depending on demand.

A major factor that likely had a large influence on Retweet development but hasn’t really been touched upon is the impact of RTs on search.

Extensive retweeting can skew search queries both on Twitter Search and major search engines and the new Retweet functionality will filter out much of that redundancy. The new RT also adds meta data to each tweet you retweet, sending a clearer signal to search engines about what content users are finding popular and making it easier for users to search for specific tweets in full context.

Don’t Like It? Don’t Worry

If you’re not impressed by the new Retweet feature, don’t stress about it. From your Twitter dashboard, you can:

  • Turn on and off retweets on a per-user basis. If you only want to see someone’s personally authored tweets, you can shut off their retweets altogether but still follow them.
  • Permanently delete retweets from both your timeline and the timelines of persons who have retweeted you.
  • Continue to use organic retweet and ignore the new functionality altogether. As Twitter staff keep stressing, the old skool method of retweeting will remain available to users.

Happy retweeting!

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Twitter and LinkedIn Do the Happy Dance

Social media darlings Twitter and LinkedIn announced a partnership this week that enables LinkedIn users to synch their status with Twitter updates.

Similar to the Twitter / Facebook integration, now when you set your status on LinkedIn you can now tweet it as well, to alert your followers on both LinkedIn AND Twitter, as well as real-time search services like Twitter Search and Bing. Simply edit your settings on LinkedIn to include a Twitter account to synch with and you’re good to go. LinkedIn have integrated a checkbox under the status field so your updates are automatically tweeted if you check the box.

Twitter users can also update their LinkedIn status from Twitter and Twitter clients, via the addition of the #in hashtag in a tweet.

Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone have likened the partnership to the “perfect combination” of peanut butter and chocolate. So I guess those of you who like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups should be thrilled.

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