Google deepens commitment to realtime search

Google expanded its commitment to providing real-time search results by introducing a new site devoted to searching live content, as well as new tools aimed at helping users parse the information collected more easily.

The live search would be available at www.google.com/realtime, which the company is launching on a rolling basis Thursday. It indexes content from social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Google first introduced basic realtime search last December, allowing users to more accurately search for current trending topics.

Realtime search has become more popular -- and arguably more necessary -- in a world where social media has increasing influence. Topics on these services can evolve rapidly, much faster than the traditional search indexing methods where it would take days, weeks, or even months to "recrawl" a site.

Competitor Bing has already committed itself to realtime search, striking deals with Twitter in October of last year and Facebook to include their content in search results.

Product manager Dylan Casey called the new functionality "our most significant enhancements to date." The realtime search product would be available globally in 40 languages, and would either be accessible via the service's direct URL or by clicking "Updates" when viewing traditional search results.

Results data would be displayed in a constantly updating stream, similar to the way Twitter displays real-time tweet data on a specific subject. The site was split from standard results based on feedback from users on the beta, Casey told Reuters.

Those worried about privacy issues with Google now indexing their social lives should know that in order for the content to be indexed by Google, it must be available publicly. Private social data would not be included.

In addition to the realtime search, Google has introduced a "Conversations" feature which would help organize the conversation around a single topic easier. The stream would be organized from oldest to newest and use indents in order to make it easier to follow.

Google Alerts has also been updated to take advantage of the new realtime search functionality, and can be set to alert users on topics when they are mentioned on Twitter and other short form services, Casey said.

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