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

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

By Kelvin Newman / April 8, 2010

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!

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