Google adds real-time results to search

Google is forging ahead in the race to deliver the most up-to-date search results with the launch of its “real-time” service.

The search giant will instantly index sites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace and present the results on its main search page. The real-time results appear in a scrolling panel that is constantly updated as the viewer looks at the search results.

Delivering real-time results has become a priority for the leading search engines over the past few months, with users increasingly turning to microblogging sites such as Twitter to get the latest on breaking news events.

In October, both Microsoft and Google announced plans to integrate Twitter results into their search engines on the same day, in what has increasingly become a real-time arms race.

Google's real time results

“I would say that real-time search is the natural evolution of universal search,” said Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of search products and user experience, at the launch of the new service.

However, she admitted that the demand for instant results had caught the search giant by surprise. “I wish we’d had the foresight to see this,” she added.

Real-time rankings

Google says it will apply a ranking algorithm to its real-time searches in a similar fashion to the way it ranks ordinary results. Factors such as the number of followers and number of retweets will help determine whether a person’s tweets appear on the Google homepage, for instance.

Google’s real-time results will be rolled out across the site over the next few days. In the meantime, you can see what the results panel will look like by clicking on any of the Hot Topics listings on Google Trends.

The latest results panel doesn’t always appear at the top of search results pages, so scroll down the page if it’s not immediately visible.

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