Google Real-Time Search - Is this the end of the Google Model?

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

On the 7th December, Google has announced the launch of real time search in the search engine results pages.

The real time search concept

The concept behind real-time search is to deliver content, which is the freshest and most relevant to a search engine query.
With the increasing amount of content being put online every single minute and the short life of a piece of content, it is imperative for search engines to reflect this trend in their search results pages. In that sense, real time search is a radical move from the intial search engines model, where relevancy is not the main criteria anymore.

How real- time search is a challenge for Google

Over the last 10 years, Google has built its search engine around the concept of relevancy, where relevancy is gained over time and reputation. Old authoritative domains with solid links and content dominate search engine rankings.

Nowadays, freshness and recency needs to be integrated in the equation, which is a radical change to the initial concept of the Google algorithm. Content not only needs to be relevant but it needs to be recent and reflect user's intentions at the instant T.

Google and Real Time Search

Being pressured by the integration of Bing with Facebook and Twitter in October 2009, Google had to respond to remain in the game.
As a result Google has integrated news results and twitter results in its search engine results pages, with plans to integrate Facebook and MySpace in the near future.

While Google integrated freshness and recency by displaying Twitter results in its search engine rankings, it seems to have forgotten its core concept of relevancy.

In Google search results, Twitter updates are only displayed based on time rather than relvancy. As mentioned by Rand Fishkin and Danny Sullivan, the Google real time search results are similar to the old days of Infoseek. While relvance is still there, you do not need to be highly relevant to get top results, you just need to be quick.

Google's integration of real time search is therefore a little bit rushed and not fully inline with the giant's search model. To properly integrate real time search within their search engine results, Google still needs to review their algorithm to integrate both freshness and relevancy in the equation.

This is a major challenge for the Google model and algorithm and this will have to be addressed in the coming months...


mikeh2bi said...

Firstly, good post.

In answer to your question, No I don't think it's the end of the Google Model, and yes they certainly will need to tweak their real time algorithm if they are going to set themselves apart from the competition, as they have done for so long now.

You're right, relevancy should be a factor for real time results. For tweets, how would they determine relevancy? By the number of followers a user has? They could run into spam related issues here as well, but it's a good start. Alternatively, you could determine tweet relevance by the number of retweets or the number of times a URL is linked from within tweets.

Danny Sullivan is right (and I had a similar thought) "spammers are smart. They’re happy to set up robotic accounts that do nothing but tweet all day".

Let's hope Google can get it right and avoid real time spam.

Robert said...

Interesting piece Alban. It will be interesting to see how Google deals with the issues you have outlined. One thing is for certain, they will deal with it.

Robert K

Alban G. said...

Mikeh2bi , Robert, thanks for your comments and I like like your optimism around Google.

Evaluating relevancy from Tweets is one of the challenges, but real time search is not only Tweeter. Relevancy will need to be evaluated with other social media and news websites.
One other challenge for Google will also be to evaluate recency for the "traditional" piece of internet content.
Spam should also be invetigated more than ever.

Let's see what they come up with in the following months

Unknown said...

How do you improve relevancy in real-time?

I guess you cant exactly, well not yet. As mentioned, verification such as number of followers tweets etc. Would be considered but that would mean treating each user (and their results) like an individual website (checking against their algorithims) Problem is, people aren’t websites - and cant be verified the same. I can have 1000 followers and be a spammer. Or have 5 followers and be authentic. Also, websites build reputation over time – real time skips that process.
If we are then told to treat real time results like web results and go to those we believe are authentic, or we have subscribed to (maybe linking accounts). Then all real time results will be are glorified RSS feeds. In fact, that’s where i will put my money on. Total integration via accounts.
The results will be the first step, then the integration so they can add personalisation.
Spammers will have a good crack at this. Google isn’t stupid however, im sure everything is apart of some bigger plan. Rather to stop other search engines, integrated every account with google results, or whatever it maybe. Unlike google, the results of their plan wont be in real time i suppose lol.

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