Real-time search is becoming an increasingly important focus for the digital industry. Twitter – for all its foibles and technical errors – is the market leader. The site allows users to instantly communicate with each other; breaking news, discussing topics, interacting with any of its six million users (Including theEword).
Recent moves by rival social networking site Facebook has highlighted the growing importance companies are placing on the rapid proliferation of search information.
Yesterday, Facebook rolled out a new search feature which allows users to hunt for keywords and phrases. This search tool allows individuals to search for keywords or phrases among their friends and the site’s entire user base (or at least those users who have public profiles). The search function crawls the previous 30 days of news feed information – searching status updates, links, videos and photographs.
Facebook’s recent purchase of FriendFeed – a rival social site – also demonstrates their commitment to the real-time movement. With this deal, Facebook has acquired the tools and man power (all of FriendFeed’s employees will now work for Facebook) of one of the leading social media sites. The move not only highlights Facebook’s unrelenting intentions to take Twitter on at its own game, but also the importance now being placed on instant search.
The founder of FriendFeed, Paul Buchheit, wrote in 2008 that real-time search – provided by a mass database of users - may be more valuable than the link data provided by search engines.
Indeed, the proliferation of users to instant search is a growing concern for Google. To highlight the recent coverage of Michael Jackson’s death: It look 1 hour and 20 minutes for Google to feature the article on its news feed after the story was first posted on Twitter. This lag did not go unnoticed by the SEO community.
Indeed, Google founder Larry Page has admitted his company has fallen behind real time services:
"People really want to do stuff real time and I think they (Twitter) have done a great job.
"We've done a relatively poor job of doing things that work on a per second basis," he said in May.
But Google has never been a company to rest on its laurels. Its staff are smart enough to realise the important of real-time data and act accordingly. The recent revealing of Google Caffeine – the new engine under the hood of the search giant – is an attempt to cash in on real-time search. The new design is thought to able to crawl pages quicker and offer a more comprehensive user experience.
Whether or not it can match up to the real-time application of Twitter is another matter entirely.