A new style of search is emerging and it provides a radically different experience for the user.
By Evan Britton
Over the past year, a handful of real-time search engines
have launched, with search results based on recent information.
This type of information can be helpful to users
who want to learn about events happening at that very
moment. Furthermore, whereas traditional search engines
revolve around websites, real-time search results are
largely powered by the public and their current thoughts
on any given topic.
There are several categories of search queries from
which users can benefit via the real-time Web. For example,
if you are a sports fan whose team has just lost a big
game, a real-time search will allow you to see what other
fans are saying right now about your team. Or, if a natural
disaster occurs, a real-time search can display up-tothe-
second news and information, and the thoughts of
those affected by the disaster.
Businesses take notice
Twitter offers search functionality on its site to scour the
real-time Web. In addition, many startups have launched
search engines centered on Twitter and other real-time results.
Select companies are trying to differentiate themselves.
Topsy received $15 million in funding on its way to establishing
itself as an early leader. They tally up all links
published on the real-time Web while also factoring in the
authority of the source to generate search results. As a
searcher, you can search for the most shared links based
on hour, day, week or month.
TweetMeme experienced robust growth, much of
which has come from the “retweet” button it allows other
websites and blogs to implement for free. The button allows
any Internet user to easily see the popularity of, and
share the Web page they are currently viewing.
The bottom line
A major challenge for real-time search engines continues
to be monetization. On the traditional Web, search traffic
leads to profits as advertisers experience great conversions
rates through pay-per-click (PPC). However, advertisers
want to appear next to product-related searches and a
major portion of real-time Web searches are information
based. Because of this, targeting relevant advertisers who
will pay a high cost-per-click (CPC) price is difficult for
real-time Web companies.
Even as monetization solutions begin to roll out, the
revenue per user that real-time Web companies will generate will not be on par with
traditional search engines. For this
reason, scale will be important. And
real-time companies that over-capitalize
and receive too high a valuation
might have a difficult time living up to
With Google and Bing recently announcing
plans to include real-time results
in their search results, real-time
Web companies suddenly face big competition.
These companies must stay focused
on their core missions and
continue to differentiate themselves.
Anyone can have their voice heard on
the real-time Web, but what makes it so
powerful is also one of its biggest flaws.
Spammers can easily infiltrate real-time
Moving forward, better filtering
technology will be a must. Google and
Bing will certainly be focused on filtering
and those tools can potentially
help other real-time companies. Authority
may continue to have more influence
on results which could help
weed out much of the SPAM. At the
same time, more sources from more
sites will be looked at to compile realtime
results which will enhance the
pool of information.
While product searches today are
better suited for traditional engines, potentially
real-time Web engines will figure
out a way to effectively let the public
recommend a product. After all, users
read reviews and comments about products
all the time. One day, all of those reviews
and products could be aggregated and filtered to
generate accurate, real-time results for a product search
About the Author: Evan Britton is the founder of Sency (http://sency.com), a
customizable, private labeled feed allowing websites and
blogs to implement automatically updating, real-time results
on their sites.
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