You might have noticed over the last few months that you haven’t been able to access Google’s real-time search features (it was on the left hand-column of the search navigation panel – the ‘updates’ button’). For a while, this feature allowed Google’s users to access live search results that were mostly comprised of updates from Twitter. This was an extremely helpful feature for users who were not yet acquainted with Twitter, or others that simply were too lazy to check both Twitter & Google. Google real time search was extremely helpful: from checking if you just felt an earthquake in san francisco (#SFEarthquake) to getting the live updates from the floor of CES.
However, Google was forced to remove the Twitter results due to a failed contract with Twitter (i.e. they didn’t make a big enough offer.) This essentially rendered real time search useless which Google soon realized and responded by removing the feature all together.
Now Google is saying real-time is back, this time with integrated Google+ results. The question is: will Google+ be enough? If I search for #SFEarthquake will I get a plethora of updates confirming my quake-paranoia? If not, there isn’t much of a point to using the feature. Google needs to make sure they have enough momentum with Google+ to make the real time search a compelling product.
As a business proposition, real-time search is a must have for Google to compete with Twitter and Facebook. Internet users are becoming more ‘in the now,’ and are constantly scrounging the web for live events, political chatter, tv show results and social updates. If Google loses out in this battle, they potentially lose the battle for search all together. Although they still are the most reliable source to find information and knowledge, so was Encyclopedia Britannica.
Not only does real-time keep Google at the head of the search game, but it also is a huge potential money-maker through Google Adwords. It provides the ability for Google to serve relevant and real-time advertising. Adwords advertisers can suddenly become something akin to day traders, constantly monitoring real-time search feeds and inputting relevant advertising alongside the feeds on a micro-scale. Although this type of real-time advertising will require more monitoring and upkeep, ads like this also will likely foster a much higher bidding price (as well as click-through and conversion rates).
Google hasn’t played off real-time search as being a make or break feature, however it is very closely tied to Google+ (which they have been pushing in some shape or form for quite a while now). Google+ by itself is pretty much another variety of social network and doesn’t provide much more than Facebook. However, when Google+ and real-time search are combined with enough chatter, they make a formidable product that is sure to make Mark Zukerberg sweat.