Well it seems that Google's realtime search is growing up. Although the name might be misleading as it seems to only search Twitter. But the question remains, does it matter? Will it have an impact on search and SEO? I decided to poke around and see for myself just what we have here... so mount up folks and we'll go for a ride.
UPDATE; Tony let me know in the comments that it is also picking up FB,as well as FriendFeed (here) They just seems to have less weight. I also noted that a 'site' operator also works;
...anyway, on with the journey...
As any long time readers of the Trail would know, not only do I have an obsession with search engines, but also search evolution. One such evolution over the last few years we've seen the rise of Real Time and Social Search engines.
Google got into the RTS (real time search) last year and as of yesterday, it found it's own home as a vertical. But the question remains, is it relevant and what does it mean to search professionals?
Well, before we play around with it, a few notes of interest. First off (if you didn't watch the vid or read the official post) some new features include the ability to hook up to Google Alerts and sort the listings via geo-localized listings. Also we have a conversation view, that is reminiscent of clicking on a 'in reply to' in Tweetdeck for the twitter app aficionados.
Start it up – ok so it's a start page... genuis, I know.
Google Suggest – the first interesting thing was the fact that it has Google suggest in there AND just like the traditional one, it is personalized. Actually, seems to actually be partially based on my surfing history.
Next we can look at the actual results and the quality is reasonable, (for a RTS). The 'Top Links' on the right seemed to be good quality (ran multiple searches). Over on the other side we have the Temporal and geographic refiners.
The temporal stuff isn't all that great and I'd say twitter or other RTS will do just as well. It is certainly a buzz engine not one with long term data value.
As for the geographic it is interesting but doesn't really compare to the granular targeting I can accomplish with lists and custom search running in Tweetdeck. Sure, my way is a little more work, but if you're serious about your buzz tracking/research, its worth it. For the average user, I suppose it's reasonable.
Tidbits of interest
Ok, so that's the basics. Now I thought we'd have a look at some of the little odds and ends I ran into while surfing around Google Realtime search for a few hours. Share what I was seeing with you;
Tags – you can also do query refinements via the hash tags in the results which are linked.
Alerts - And of course the Google Alerts that Danny showed in his post. That can certainly be interesting for those already using alerts as part of their research/monitoring schemes.
Dorking - Just for fun I thought, while looking at the geo-localized results, to play with my 4square social dorking (remember that post?). Seems it can be used for that as well... anyway, moving along.
Query types - Search usefulness was something else I played with. The transactional spaces, as you'd imagine, were less than stellar and of little use.
As for informational queries, those ranged from somewhat useful (entertaining?) to crap.. and even, interestingly enough, some more transactional results in nature. Which was rather interesting. I am sure I can entertain myself playing with query and multi-query classifications in this thing. But that's just me...
So what's the skinny?
Ya knew we just HAD to get to this right? Ok, this isn't our first time around playing with realtime search as you may know (links at the end). In the past I still haven't really seen a lot of value in targeting for RTS. And how can we forget the pain that was Facebook & SEO? Should we be looking closer at this latest incarnation?
That's a complete and absolutely definitive 'maybe'. Hows that? Seriously though, it cannot not be entirely ignored as breaking it out into it's own vertical means that some attention is being paid to it. For that alone my geek watch will be somewhat heightened. Will I value it over other verticals/universal elements such as local and video? Probably not.
But, much like the Facebook assessment, if you have social media programs already in place than it might be worth aligning the SEO team a bit tighter with them. It's always a question of task ROI. It can be a space that you can slide into given the resources in place. But I wouldn't directly target it specifically at this point.
It will ultimately come down to the users. Will people use it enough? Or is this a sleeper vertical like book Search? Unfortunately without further enhancements it will have limited impact. I do though have a sneaky suspicion that it might find itself (and alerts) tied into the rumored social move; Google Me.