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  • Twitter vs Google – Who Wins the Real-Time Search Battle?

    Apple have today launched iAds, I’m not really sure what it is either, but what is obvious is that Twitter really has become the best source for finding a wealth of information on breaking news stories.

    Yes, Twitter’s not always the most reliable source, but if you’re looking for information on a trending topic such as iAds then the chances are Twitter will have far more information available than Google.

    Let’s have a look at Twitter’s results for a search on iAds:

    In comparison, here’s Google’s results:

    What this really shows is that if you’ve just heard about iAds and want to find out more, Google’s organic results aren’t really going to help.

    A query for apple iAds is better with the scrolling box of real-time search results appearing, but they still try to correct your search to “apple ads”:

    But isn’t Google’s indexing quick enough already?

    Yes, the speed in which Google now index news and blog content is excellent. But the problem is Twitter users are often breaking popular news stories before the media and bloggers are able to (such as the main stories from the iPhone 4.0 conference).

    This means that Google is left waiting to provide relevant results, for what will be a very popular search query, until an article has been written about this online. Once this has happened it can then be indexed and listed appropriately in Google, Google News, Blog Search etc. But in the meantime, many people are already reading about this and finding news article links on Twitter’s own search, where information is available much more quickly.

    Google Trends already shows os 4.0 iphone is a popular search query today and the peak of search volume for breaking news stories is normally within a 2-3 hour window of the story breaking. So just being quick isn’t enough, you need to be instant!

    So what’s the solution?

    Well a key focus for Google is to shorten the gap in time for these stories to appear, which they are currently trying to achieve by integrating social media into its search results. So this means that they will now include tweets, news stories and Facebook status updates within search listings to quickly provide a relevant real-time search result for topical stories as soon as the news breaks.

    But in cases like the iAds query you also want to ensure that the organic results are relevant too – after-all this takes up the largest area of on-page real-estate for the results, so they need to be related to what the searcher is looking for.

    Personally I think Google need to develop their query deserves freshness algorithm further, quickly spotting the search trend for queries such as iAds – realising that what people are actually looking for has nothing to do with interactive authoring, Microsoft or dental students – and that in-fact this is a breaking news stories which deserves to have listings similar to those displayed Google News reflected organically.

    Clearly this is something Google are currently making large efforts at improving, but at the moment when comparing Twitter vs Google for real-time, breaking news queries there’s only one winner, and for once it’s not Google.

    Coincidently, I’m hosting a roundtable on real-time search in London tomorrow – so will hopefully see some of you there!


    8 Responses to “Twitter vs Google – Who Wins the Real-Time Search Battle?”

    1. I did get the real time search triggered just on iAds search about an hour after the announcement, which I thought wasn’t too bad

    2. Daniel Bianchini says:

      Hi Kevin,
      Another great article.

      I was listening to a podcast the other day around the same topic regarding breaking news. They talked about the recent disaster in Haiti and how Twitter was a much quicker resource to find out what was going on than Google, stating that Google was taking upto 6 hours to show any results.

      Bing have created a real time search travel section where they show the most recent results from your search. This provides the user with real time prices that can change in weekly, daily or even hourly.

      I beleive Google will try to improve their current algorithm to rival Twitter but they need to do it quickly.

      Any ideas on how they will make this work for them and how they could improve their current real time search feature?

    3. Kelvin, I saw them too – but they then seemed to disappear. Definitely think there’s more Google could do to quickly improve organic results for these type of breaking news searches.

      Daniel, the real-time/social search results are definitely the first step – I do expect there’s more to come from Google on this though.

    4. Twitter vs Google – Who Wins the Real-Time Search Battle:: http://bit.ly/aA8xMY
      Posted by Marketing Mallorca

    5. | The MBA Blog says:

      [...] far better when it comes to shock announcements and real time search – check this analysis of the Apple iAds launch. If it is able to provide a strong ad platform alongside this to bring in a revenue feed are we [...]

    6. Rob says:

      Loving the trending results on Twitter, whoever this Justin Beiber guy is, he is popular!

    7. Replyz Team says:

      Another dimension of the debate is whether or not Twitter can compete as a real-time source for getting answers to questions. Although people are only just beginning to tap Twitter’s potential as a Q&A community, here’s an example of the questions people are asking on Twitter about iAds and the answers they’re getting: http://replyz.com/t/iads?replies=has_replies The first iAds question inspired 11 responses, for example.

    8. whoisbid says:

      I am surprised that there has not been more feedback on this article. Breaching the time gap for realtime feeds to appear in another search engine must be taking up enormous resources

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