Google Realtime Eliminated – Social Search Goes Topsy-Turvy
July 5th, 2011 by
San Francisco’s Topsy.com is poised to become the new leader in social search with the holiday weekend closing of Google Realtime. The Google service, which displayed results garnered from Twitter and Facebook feeds, was eliminated after Google’s contract with Twitter expired; however, Google claims that the shutdown is temporary and the feature will soon be integrated into the still-nascent Google+, its new social service. While the streamlined Realtime feature has been eliminated, though, all public information on Twitter that is available to web crawlers will still be discoverable via Google searches.
Topsy.com boasts an impressive searchable index of data, having served real-time social web search returns since 2006. The three year-strong index of Twitter data is the largest of its kind on the web and continues to grow every day, with numerous options for identifying relevant web content. The secret sauce comes in the form of a sophisticated set of dynamic algorithms that serve to filter the “firehose” of tweets, updates and other socially-generated media. As this constantly-generated, stream-of-consciousness data is subject to large amounts of irrelevant noise when attempting to search for a specific term, Topsy has come up with an elegant solution to accurate real-time search results by monitoring the influence of its users and making this influence a large part of their ranking system. Only approximately 0.2% of Twitter users are ranked as “highly influential” and 0.5% as “influential,” so the standards are obviously exacting. Additionally, trackback pages are provided for all indexed items, allowing you to see what everyone is saying about your specific query. Trending items are also given the same consideration, with bonus syndication options for you to insert relevant realtime content into your page. (If you’re interested in checking out what goes on from the tweet-to-search-result process, check out this blog post on their V2 platform and plans to index 100 billion status updates.)
While Topsy isn’t perfect — Akismet and other comment monitoring programs often flag its trackbacks as spam, and the top-trending features for those simply looking to browse could use some work — it seems to be the most elegant solution for the matter available. However, Microsoft’s Bing.com has been publishing recent tweets as long as Google, since late 2009, and does not appear to be facing the same kind of contractual disputes that eliminated Google’s partnership with them.
Will this development push Bing further into the realm of being a purely social search engine, or will the inevitable integration of real-time search into Google+ make this social media package deal too good for users to pass up? What do you think?