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.

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