Search Event 2009 on December 7 was the day that Real Time Search was unveiled at GoogleYesterday Google unveiled real-time search which has brought with it a great many new marketing techniques and possibilities for web traffic. Want to learn more? Here is how to see real-time search in action and a few important questions and answers to follow it up.

#1) What is Real-Time Search?

Real time search is a type of search query that can be done on Google (and other real-time search sites) that provides the latest discussions/news from all over the Internet based on the query.

Real-time search has come about as a result of the often useful real-time news that is available within social networking feeds from sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.  When all of these real-time social networking sites started there were very few people that believed they would go anywhere (who would have the time after all?!); and you can count me as one of them at the beginning. That said, disbelievers were proven wrong and sites like Twitter have become popular world wide. Twitter, in fact, has made multiple world headlines as a platform for national protests (i.e. Moldova’s Twitter Revolution“) and has often broken news far before the mainstream media reported it. What was worse (to Google anyway) was this timely (valuable) news was often nowhere to be found within search results because Google was not indexing news that quickly.  Well Google was going to have none of that and they spent a long time creating a whole new set of algorithms and systems to filter real-time results while providing them within seconds of being posted online. Yesterday, Google announced that  we will start seeing real-time search appearing in search results within the next few days across all English-speaking portals of Google.

Below is an example of how the results look in regular (organic/natural) Top 10 search rankings. These real-time results can be embedded anywhere within the search results depending on the search performed. In this case, the real-time results are showing between rankings 3 and 4 and the results are within a window with its own scroll bar to make navigation of the multiple results possible.

Real time search example by

#2) How to Give Real-Time Search a Test Drive

First of all you may find that your region already has real-time search enabled so try conducting a search like you would any other day and see if real-time search results appear within a few moments of loading the page (they often don’t load as quickly as the rest of the page – at least on my machine).  Keep in mind that not every search will have real-time search results so try searching with a piece of news guaranteed to be hot in the social airwaves… like “Spaceship Two” or if you want a little lewd gossip then type in “Tiger Woods”.

If it appears you do not have real-time results enabled in your area then never fear, there is a way to check it out and it is quite painless:

  1. Go to Google Trends:
  2. Click on any of the “Hot Topics” and you will see search results for that topic. i.e. “Spaceship Two“.  You should now see the embedded real-time result somewhere on the page.
  3. If you want to only see real-time results (pretty fascinating) then just click on “Latest Results for Spaceship Two” and you will be taken to a page dedicated to real-time results. I alike watching the full page of real-time results to gazing a crackling fire… it is mesmorizing.

#3) Answering Some Expected Questions

The following are just a few questions and answers including some from the press conference that stood out:

  1. Where do real-time search results appear in Google rankings?
    There is no single position the real-time results will appear. So far it seems they are placed below the most relevant non-real-time universal search results (yes I know I will have to find an easier way to say that). As a result, anyone with rankings that appear above the real-time results should feel pretty good because their content is highly regarded.
  2. Does this mean there are less positions to get rankings for on the first page of Google searches?
    No, there are still 10 non-real time universal search results listed on each page. It does mean, however, that some rankings will appear much lower down the first page depending on where the embedded real time results are inserted.
  3. If Google is importing feeds from Facebook does it mean that my personal posts are now open to the world?
    Absolutely not. Google has actually been hamstrung by Facebook because it is only allowed to show feeds from publicly available Facebook Pages versus the incredibly useful personal profiles that are public (they will be optionally public). Here is a great article from Mashable on the dynamics of this intriguing relationship.
  4. How is Google ranking real-time searches? — The $1,000,000,000 Question
    According to the press conference they are using language modelling to determine the quality of the content within the messages and a system much like PageRank which evaluates the quality of the person posting. Check out “How Google Real-Time Results are Ranked – The First Draft” for more on this subject.

What are your questions about real-time search? Please comment below or drop me a note (via our contact form) and I will try and respond to all of your questions in a future post.