The search wars have just been taken to a whole new level. The catalyst? Social media.
With the phenomenal popularity of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, both Google and Microsoft will now be integrating real-time updates into their respective search engines. In separate announcements made yesterday, October 21, Google said it has reached an agreement with Twitter to include real-time updates – “Tweets” – in a new Google feature called Social Search; meanwhile, Microsoft has signed deals to get full feeds from both Twitter and Facebook.
Google cited the fact that “an entirely new type of data has emerged… not only as a way for people to communicate their thoughts and feelings, but also as an interesting source of data about what is happening right now in regard to a particular topic.” The agreement with Twitter means search results will now include up-to-the-minute data and real-time observation from a stream of Tweets, so that users “will find tweets from others who are there and sharing the latest and greatest information.”
Results from Google Social Search will include information from users’ social networks, and will appear as part of a blended search integration – similar to seeing news or image results. Google, moreover, announced improvements in image searching; using social networking data, searching for images on Google will now lead to more relevant results.
In its bid to gain even greater relevance in the search engine wars, Microsoft Bing will now be able to search full feeds from Twitter. Qi Lu, President of Microsoft’s Online Services Division, also announced a partnership with Facebook (of which it owns a minority share) to bring public status updates to Bing search results. These updates will go live on Bing within two months, Facebook revealed.
“The idea of accessing data in real-time has been an elusive goal in the world of search,” read a statement on Bing’s community blog. “Web indexes in search engines update at pretty amazing rates, given what it takes to crawl the entire web and index it for searching, but getting that to ‘real time’ has been challenging.” By launching a new search beta called Bing Twitter, Microsoft hopes to take real-time searching to the next level. Results will include all real-time public Tweets.
The competition between Google and Microsoft may have intensified, but this can only mean a more comprehensive and enhanced search experience for users. Thanks to social media, the Web is more open than ever. And we have more control than ever over ways in which we find information.