Real-Time Search Shows Promise

Some Bay Area residents woke up yesterday to a 4.1 magnitude earthquake.  According to various reports, Google had integrated that news in its search results somewhere between  two minutes to 10 minutes afterward.  Although Google said their Bay Area data centers had the feed from the US Geological Survey Feed in less than two minutes, most people saw the real-time results in about six minutes.

Granted, Google’s new inclusion of Twitter real-time feeds certainly helped their results.  Greg Sterling over at Search Engine Land comments that the Twitter integration is what “saved” Google’s rep on real-time search.  Another report from Stephen Shankland at CNET, suggested that the difference might have been due to the different data centers receiving information at various times.

Kim-Mai Cutler’s Coverage on Digital Beat was more positive, indicating that Google’s Twitter inclusion listed “tweets that were only 30 seconds stale.”

The best representation of what happened between Earthquate and Google results, however, is best summed up by a Matt Cuts (a Googler):

  • The earthquake happened at 10:09
  • Google’s real-time onebox “triggered” by 10:12
  • USGS updated their feed at 10:20
  • Google’s real-time onebox updated around 10:25

Most of the search-geek press I’ve read on the subject has seemed rather critical.  I remember being impressed last year when a blog post I made at 9am was in results by 11am.  For an earthquake to happen and people see some sort of results within 10 minutes is very impressive.  Google’s says something was “triggered” to create a onebox within two minutes.  I’d call that nothing short of incredible.

Today’s instant-gratification craze aside, any results in 6 minutes is a great start to this new real-time service from Google. If history is any guide, this will be perfected within months and still in “beta” for years.