It was a big news when Twitter started selling tweets to Google and Microsoft (Bing), roughly a month back. Following the foot steps of Twitter, MySpace and Facebook have signed deals with Google to share real-time search data. Google has begun adding real time results to its search engine, channeling feeds from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other fresh content into responses to queries.
And it is finally official now – Google has signed a deal with Facebook to integrate data from the world’s biggest social network in the real-time search results. Considering that the two companies are shaping up to be the two major online players over the coming years (even they occupy the top 2 spots in their Alexa traffic rank), it’s understandable that a partnership, even a limited one, is somewhat surprising.
Nevertheless, Facebook is the world’s largest source for real-time information, even though Twitter gets most of the attention, and Google is the world’s largest search engine, so some sort of deal should have been expected. However, Facebook won’t be providing the bulk of its data, arguably the most important one as well, but only updates from Facebook Pages which are always public.
“We are here today to announce Google real time search,” Google fellow Amit Singhal said at a press event held near the firm’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. “Users will get results on results page as they are being produced out there. This is the first time ever that a search engine has integrated the real time Web into the results page,” Singhal said.
“MySpace and Facebook users can decide what they want to see offered at Google,” said Google vice president of search products and user experience Marissa Mayer. Twitter feeds were in Google real-time results on Monday, but Facebook and MySpace updates will not be integrated until possibly as late as February of next year, according to Mayer.
These partnerships have now been formalised and are understood to be going live on Google across all English language domains (both .com and .co.uk) “over the coming days” according to a Google spokesperson.
This means that when somebody searches for a particular topic on Google they will receive real-time updates from a variety of social media sites, as well as the usual list of search results. Recently, search engines have begun to disappoint those searchers hunting for the latest updates on fast-moving stories. During last summer’s protests in Iran, for example, Google search results delivered the Wikipedia entry for Iran or a recent news article about the clashes. However, a search on Twitter showed the latest news from the people on the streets of Tehran as events unfolded.
This has led to both Google and Microsoft’s Bing, partnering with the likes of Twitter, in order to make their searches more relevant and faster. While all of these sound extremely exciting, making sure people are served real-time results when they want them will be something Google and Microsoft will both have to master so as not to provide irrelevant results.
Google is eager to have a platform in place to allow bloggers, social networks and other producers of real time online content to instantly route updates to the search engine. An aspiration is to one day be able to personalize search so that Google blends public information with private updates individuals have access to in online social networks.
“That is something we are far away from,” Mayer said. “But, in the end, you really hope that the search engines can search the Web the way you see it. If you can see it, we should be able to search it. That is our goal.”