Google recently released an update to its display of content called Real-Time Search. At first I thought this would be a better experience than twitter search or facebook search, because its from the king of Search, Google. Unfortunately it has become apparent that this was more of a knee-jerk reaction to Bing’s Twitter Search announcement less than 50 days earlier.
We knew that Google and others were indexing the tweet stream earlier this year, but this is a game changer in how they have integrated their display of tweets with standard results.
Real Time, the Achilles Search Heel
So what’s the big deal? This content from twitter, this real-time search content that Google is now displaying in it’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is all available elsewhere, so this is just another evolution in the concept of universal search. Right?
True, but as any SEO will tell you, those positions on page one, from 1-10 on the first SERP are highly coveted and can garner significant respect and authority. Be it right or wrong a searcher will more quickly refine their search query then click to page two. A searcher will also consider items on page one of a SERP to have authority or credibility.
Tweeple have credibility and deserve SERP right?
Perhaps some of the accounts on twitter deserve respect and authority, but Google has not indexed it accordingly. Some quick tests have gone on to prove that any (non-private) account gets indexed and can show up on page one of a Google SERP. Bing keeps the twitter search separate in http://bing.com/twitter. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for Google and Bing indexing tweets, I’d love to see them improve on twitter search, but I like Bing’s approach better than Google. It allows me to say, I’m looking for real-time information that could be unqualified.
How to abuse Google’s Real-Time Search
It’s fairly simple actually, find a search that returns a real-time result in the SERP, namtrok, davenaylor, tiger woods, or Copenhagen Climate, and tweet with those keywords in it. You will see your tweet show up. Now envision this search for sesame street, and a pedophile tweeting something to the tune of “Hey kids want to see more sesame street? Call me at 555-111-2222, I’ll show you how.”
I like every parent of small children suddenly got totally creeped out.
Do you see the possibilities? Do you see the problems? Do you see the spam and liable issues?
Granted the search for Sesame Street does not currently display Google’s Real-Time feature, but who gets to choose which search does and which doesn’t? It’s only a matter of time before this weakness in Google’s SERPs is exploited. (I assume that anything trending or popular gets Real-Time function added, how long till we make Sesame Street trend on Twitter?)
Bing poised, Google Cracked?
No matter how much I love Google and dispise Microsoft, I have to admit, Bing is the best thing Microsoft has put out in years. The only thing Bing needs to improve it’s results set is more traffic. Yup, the crowd when it shifts to the next search platform will help that platform improve it’s relevance and results. If Google were to make a false step now and 10%, or 20% of it’s traffic move to Bing, plus the Micro-hoo deal. Bing could be poised to actually challenge the search giant.
Will Google let that happen? I don’t think so. But if they don’t see the failure of leaving Real-Time Search results in page one of the SERP then perhaps they are too high on their own ego?
Besides I think the usability and pure function of the Real-Time updates are flawed. I much prefer Bing or Twitter Search itself. But thats just me right?
Do you agree?
Do you see the flaws in Google’s Real-Time search? Share examples of searches you’d like to spam or be concerned about being spammed.