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Google Still Can’t Deliver Real-Time Search; Offers Warmed Up Leftovers Instead

There’s no doubt that Google’s feeling the heat from Twitter. Just about everyone wants to know what Google has planned to address Twitter’s rise in dominance for "real time" search results.

The biggest problem for Google is that it’s built its market share by being the most relevant search engine. How can it balance relevance and ranking with freshness and trending?

Enter Hot Trends for search results.

Google has announced that when your search query matches one of the top 100 fastest rising search terms, you’ll see a graph at the bottom of the search page–complete with data on just how popular it is, how fast it’s rising and…that’s about it, actually.

There are a couple of problems with this integration.

Have you seen what makes it onto Google’s Hot Trends list these days? Allow me to demonstrate Hot Trends in search results, and just how utterly useless it can be, all in one screenshot:

Huh? Acne pillowcase? I’ve seen some bizarre stuff show up in Twitter Trends, but this one tops them all!

So, if this is Google’s response to "real time" search, you have to ask yourself what’s driving this data? Yeah, it’s search queries. Let me explain. When you look at most real time search engines–or Twitter Trends–the data is based on signals, such as what people are discussing or linking to. Right? Well, Hot Trends is based on what people are searching for on Google. So the question becomes this: what prompted the search in the first place? Hot Trends is not Google telling us what content is rapidly making its way into the index. Nope, it’s just what keywords are popular among searchers.

To its credit, Google is not presenting this new feature as its answer to real time search, but it’s subtly implied…

We hope it will help you keep up with everything there’s to know about the latest trends online. No more being out of the loop at your office watercooler!

Actually, we’ve replaced the watercooler with Twitter and Facebook. Google’s still the place we go to to dig deeper into the news we’ve just learned–not the place we go to discover it.

  • ooermissus

    It’s trending because there’s a hugely popular reddit discussion on the issue at the moment.

    • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

      Thanks! Which kind of proves my point. Reddit discovered the trend, Google’s just trying to get a piece of the action.

      • http://reddit.com Robotnik1

        Reddit created the trend using a search link (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=acne+pillowcase&aq=f&aqi=g10&oq=&cad=h) in it’s most popular submission of the morning.

        Everyone who clicks the link is effectively googling ‘acne pillowcase’ making it a trend.

        Of course ‘hot trends’ is based on search queries. Where else is google going to get real-time information? Have you seen their website? Its a logo, a search field and a button.

        • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

          “Have you seen their website? Its a logo, a search field and a button.” LOL!

      • http://burnsofrce.com patrick

        “Which kind of proves my point. Reddit discovered the trend, Google’s just trying to get a piece of the action.”

        Not trying to be mean, but I never got that point from your blog post. Your point, to me, was “google trends is worthless”.

        If you were in fact trying to make a point that google is trying to ride someones coat tails, you did so poorly.

        • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

          “Hot Trends is not Google telling us what content is rapidly making its way into the index. Nope, it’s just what keywords are popular among searchers”

          Google’s not the place that unveils new trends, it’s a place for discovering the lowdown on ones that have already been discovered. Google didn’t do anything other than report that others were searching for acne pillowcase–heck, it didn’t even have the Reddit story indexed.

  • http://www.tmgcustommedia.com andrew

    I think the last sentence of this post is especially poignant: “Google’s still the place we go to to dig deeper into the news we’ve just learned–not the place we go to discover it.” I think there’s merit to the argument that Google would better serve it’s loyal users (and 65% search market share, as reported by eMarketer today) by remaining true to producing relevant search results rather than “fresh” search results. Besides, it would seem to be a more sustainable model.

  • http://www.barbaraling.com Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach

    Personally, I find it fascinating that Google hasn’t tackled realtime searching BEFORE twitter – getting the jump on trends is a business person’s dream.
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach ´s last blog ..Today’s Humor of the Day – Animator VS Animation 2 =-.

  • lastobelus

    Just because you don’t understand ACNE PILLOWCASE does not mean google is borken.

    ACNE PILLOWCASE literally saved my life, and I would not even want to bother saving my life if there was no google.

    Google was great even before ACNE PILLOWCASE, but now with ACNE PILLOWCASE google has transcended into internet godhood.

  • http://www.myfacefile.com Rob Wilcox

    Have to agree with Andrew. We get a lot of our news via both FB and Twitter and other RSS feeds, but if we want to know more and who’s talking about it, we turn to Google as our first stop following social media.

  • http://sency.com/ Sency

    we just launched our real time search engine: http://sency.com/ offering a few twists such as a free, easy to use, feed for content sites…