The predictions and hype surrounding Google’s realtime search feature and its effect on SEO may have been largely over-rated. Certainly, despite the buzz of it being the “Next big thing” and the constant furore over access to Twitter’s datastream in late 2009 largely faded into the background noise of the industry when they became a reality.
Still, realtime search feature has made content accessible in a more dynamic fashion than ever before. Yet as noted by many, its place in Universal search often made a mockery of the concept of relevancy and search engine optimisation; all it took to appear on the first page of Google was to be the last person to type the keyword into twitter.
Now the feature has been given its home, away from the main SERPs, where it was relegated to the ‘updates’ section. Google.com/realtime now acts as the main portal for real time searches, which will find the latest content on a keyword within seconds of it being posted to the web.
This type of search can be a good means of identifying trends or checking whether the latest information is still up to date – online news providers are also included in real-time search, if often drowned out by tweets, bloggers and so forth.
The new homepage also includes several new features. Product manager Dylan Casey writes that these new tools include geographic refinements “to find update and news near you, or in a region you specify”, as well as a new ‘conversations view’.
“Often a single tweet sparks a larger conversation of re-tweets and other replies but to put it together you have to click through a bunch of links and figure it out yourself. With the new full conversion feature, you can browse the entire conversation in a single glance,” says Casey.
One final feature separate to the new home page for realtime search is an “updates” tab to Google Alerts. Now users can create an alert specifically for updates, meaning that anytime a keyword appears in Twitter, Facebook or other realtime sources, it’ll be collected into an email sent once a day or week.