MySpace and Facebook have both signed deals with Google to allow publicly available status updates to be indexed in real-time by the search giant. Up till now Google had only signed a similar deal with Twitter and was missing agreements with Facebook and MySpace.
These partnerships have now been formalised and are understood to be going live on Google across all English language domains (both .com and .co.uk) “over the coming days” according to a Google spokesperson.
This means that when somebody searches for a particular topic on Google they will receive real-time updates from a variety of social media sites, as well as the usual list of search results.
Recently, search engines have begun to disappoint those searchers hunting for the latest updates on fast-moving stories. During last summer's protests in Iran, for example, Google search results delivered the Wikipedia entry for Iran or a recent news article about the clashes. However, a search on Twitter showed the latest news from the people on the streets of Tehran as events unfolded.
This has led to both Google and Microsoft’s Bing, partnering with the likes of Twitter, in order to make their searches more relevant and faster.
In a recent interview with The Telegraph, Tom Stocky, Google’s director of product management said: “People want the most up-to-date information and that’s what services such as Twitter have provided a great platform for – which is why we are really happy to work with them and gain access to that information so we can deeply embed it into our search system.”
Stocky explained that speed is essential to Google search and one of the elements it is always trying to improve. “Search speed means two things: one – how quickly results come back to you and two – how quickly we can update the information. Adding real-time results to our product will massively help with the latter part of this definition. We have to make our results as fresh and relevant as possible.”
However, making sure people are served real-time results when they want them will be something Google and Microsoft will both have to master so as not to provide irrelevant results.
Google would not reveal the financial terms of its agreements – however Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg publicly stated at Web 2.0 in San Francisco, that it would be making no money from making public status updates available to search engines. However, MySpace and Facebook have not revealed similar details.
MySpace’s chief product officer, Jason Hirschorn, said in a blog post, Google users would see “MySpace users’ real-time updates about photos, videos, moods and other content seamlessly integrated alongside traditional search results”.
Bing still has to integrate Twitter updates into its main search and is running a separate site which integrates ‘tweets’. It has yet to launch a similarly dedicated site for Facebook updates.