Real time search has been seen as the next big thing for search engines. Much as it sounds, ‘real time’ search means getting up to the minute results pages – even for articles and posts that have only just been made – rather than a traditional ‘index’ of the web which has been compiled over the last 3 months.
It has been ushered in due to Twitter’s search function which allows you to see what people are Tweeting about right now.
To prevent themselves been left behind in a potentially lucrative market, both Google and Microsoft have developed ‘real time’ additions to their products,
In our ‘Google the innovator‘ series we showed how Google allows you to see if any new instances of a search query have been added in the last 24 hours. Google has also updated its Blog Search, which includes the opportunity to see the latest posts from popular blogs.
And Microsoft’s new search engine ‘Bing’ has just announced a trial that means that the latest Tweets from a few high profile users will be instantly displayed in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
But how useful is real time search to us consumers? Do we really care if someone has just Tweeted about the subject that we’re searching for – will that really make any difference to us?
It probably depends on the sorts of things that you’re searching for. If you want to know the latest developments in Michael Jackson saga, then (as we showed last week) its pretty important to have instantly available results. But if you’re researching a place to go on holiday, then it’s not going to be quite as necessary.
One problem with real time search is its inaccuracy. Web pages with true and accurate information are often linked to by other web pages. These links – amoung other things – ensure that those pages rank well in the results pages. As a consequence, more people see these accurate pages. It’s a positive feedback loop.
Whereas a 140 character Tweet is at the other end of the scale. Apart from being unverified, it might be a joke, a rumour re-tweeted. If other people then search for and find that Tweet in the SERPs, and then subsequently find it to be untrue, then those people will loose faith in that search engine’s ability to return accurate results.
So maybe Google has got the balance right with this one. Bing has no way of knowing how accurate the Tweets in their SERPs are. Whereas blogs – which by their very nature are a bit more accurate and more thought out that Tweets – might be a good way to capture that ‘real time’ essence without compromising accuracy.
What do you think? Would real time SERPs help you promote your website? Do you as a user want to see Tweets in the SERPs? Leave us a comment below.