Can we stop the real-time search debate now?

Mon 14 September 2009 13:36, Eduard Blacquière

Can we stop the real-time search debate now?

Real-time Search is hot. Ever since Twitter came along, they took and dominated the real-time search space. Especially with their new search engine like homepage. Can Google keep up with them or not? Will Twitter beat Google at its core?

At least it is keeping the industry busy. On SearchCowboys there have been written half a dozen articles and the first SearchCowboys podcast was about real-time search.

Yesterday the Omgili blog highlighted how you can tweak Google's new Search Options to filter results by minutes and even seconds. That seems close to real-time search, doesn't it?

Of course Google sees the importance of real-time search. Google has been speeding up their crawl and indexation frequency for several years now, so that's not really new.

However what is new is that you can manually tweak Google's Search Options to filter out near real-time search results. Let's say you filter your results for the past 24 hours, the URL looks like this:

http://www.google.com/search?q=query&hl=en&tbo=1&tbs=qdr:d

Now we can tweak the value of the 'qdr' parameter. The value 'd' means day (24 hours), but you can also use the value 'h' (hour):

http://www.google.com/search?q=query&hl=en&tbo=1&tbs=qdr:h

As you can see, the results are now filtered for the past hour. This option also appears underneath the time filter options:

Google%20tweaked%20search%20options%20-%20hour
Of course we are not getting near real-time results, so let's tweak the Search Options some more. By adding the value 's' to the qdr parameter, we will see results for the past second (!).

Unfortunately Google does not have results for the past second on the term 'query', but we can also specify a date range of 45 seconds for example (adding 's45' as qdr value). I got a result for the query nature, indexed 22 seconds ago:

http://www.google.com/search?q=nature&hl=en&tbo=1&tbs=qdr:s45

Google%20tweaked%20search%20options%20-%20seconds
I'm not saying that Twitter Search is doomed now Google's index keeps getting fresher. But imagine when this becomes a regular Search Option. With the scale of Google that would be an impressive real-time search feature to say the least.

Of course Twitter still has a valuable database of tweets and conversations which Google and other search engines do not have. But do not make the mistake thinking that Google has lost the real-time search game. They're into it more than ever.


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