Real-Time Web Search

13 Oct

I’ve been ranting and raving about real-time web search for some time now and it seems the trend will keep on growing (as far as experts can see). Here is a brief overview of what it is and how it’s going to change the way we do online marketing.

What is Real-Time Search?

In one word, Twitter. Or the expanded definition, “material where there’s practically no delay between composition and publishing.”

When Michael Jackson died on June 25, millions of people flooded onto Google News to find the latest information about what had happened. The spike in traffic was so massive that Google suspected a malware attack and began blocking anyone searching for “Michael Jackson.”

As funny as it is, it shows how our habits are changing and we go directly to the web for up-to-the-minute information. So what does this mean from a business point of view? A couple of things really….

First, so far, Google cannot dominate in this new search fashion (YET!!)  because for more than 10 years, Google has organized the Web by figuring out who has authority. The company measures which sites have the most links pointing to them—crucial votes of confidence—and checks to see whether a site grew to prominence slowly and organically, which tends to be a marker of quality. If a site amasses a zillion links overnight, it’s almost certainly spam.

But the real-time Web behaves in the opposite fashion. It’s all about “trending topics”—zOMG a plane crash!—which by their very nature generate a massive number of links and postings within minutes. And a search engine can’t spend days deciding what is the most crucial site or posting; people want to know immediately.

So a new generation of search engines like Tweetmeme, OneRiot, Topsy, Scoopler, and Collecta are trying to redefine what makes a piece of information important. To make sure they’re not just getting hoodwinked by spammers, these new search engines employ some clever tricks, like crawling tweeted URLs and discarding those that land on sites containing spamlike language. Most disregard Twitter users who behave like spambots—for example, ones that follow thousands of people but have very few followers themselves.

Google, however, is attempting to acquire the technology that will allow users the option to search in real-time. If so, it will rock our world.

Real-time web search is crucial to stay on top of from a Public Relations point of view. It needs to be closely monitored on almost a 24/7 basis.

The trend of real-time search will evolve on a daily basis and it’s something all of us need to monitor carefully and stay one step ahead of the curve. Because if Google unleashes the Twitter Firehose… we’ll be in for one fast and fun ride.

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