Google’s Real Time Search was launched in early December so that is still too recent for the SEO community to effectively reverse engineer anything about how the ranking is done. Everything is very speculative so far, but I can share what I have:
In Google’s description of Real Time Search it describes that the results can come from Twitter and FriendFeed as well as headlines from news and blog posts (more complete list below). Later on they are supposed to also be incorporating information from Facebook and MySpace. Bing will also incorporate Facebook updates into their real-time search although they do not yet have a deal with MySpace.
No clear patterns have emerged as to what rankings the real-time search updates will fall between in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Sometimes it is at the very top, sometimes in the middle, sometimes not at all. Danny Sullivan describes how Google decides whether or not to incorporate real-time updates into the SERPs after a conversation with Amit Singhal, a Google fellow who heads Google’s ranking systems and oversaw the development of the new real time search system – “In other words, if Google thinks something has some real-time component to it, then it will show the section. In particular, if Google sees a spike in information on a certain topic, along with queries on a particular topic, then it assumes there’s a real time situation happening — very simplified!”
What currently comes up in Google Real-Time Search:
- Tweets from Twitter
- Content from Google News
- Content from Google Blog Search
- Newly created web pages
- Freshly updated web pages
- FriendFeed updates
- Jaiku updates
- Identi.ca updates
- TwitArmy updates
Continued from the Danny Sullivan article: “How the information ranked? Singhal said only information deemed highly relevant is included. So spammy tweets, low quality pages and other content might not make it into the real time search “layer” that is used. After that, results are ranked by time.”
Scrutinizing some of the statements made by Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Search Product and User Experience, might reveal more clues “… authoritativeness exists there as well and there are signals there that indicate it. So for example, retweets and replies and the structure of how the people in that ecosystem relate to each other. You can actually use some of our learnings from PageRank in order to develop a, say, a Updates Rank, or an Updater Rank for the specific people who are posting. So this is something we are beginning to experiment with but it is interesting to see that same parallel where PageRank looks at links you can actually look at the very mechanisms inside of these update streams and sense the authoritativeness the same way.” This would seem to suggest that it is the authority of the profile of the user (how many high quality followers or friends you have) as well as whether and how much a person has been retweeted will be taken into account.
There is also some speculation about it evolving toward social search – which would make the results somewhat personalized – the people you follow would be more likely to come up in the real time search.