As Deal With Twitter Expires, Google Realtime Search Goes Offline

Yesterday, we reported that Google Realtime Search had mysteriously disappeared. Today comes the reason why: Google’s agreement with Twitter to carry its results has expired, taking with it much of the content that was in the service with it.

Google sent us this explanation:

Since October of 2009, we have had an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in our search results through a special feed, and that agreement expired on July 2.

While we will not have access to this special feed from Twitter, information on Twitter that’s publicly available to our crawlers will still be searchable and discoverable on Google.

Google also stressed that went Google Realtime Search relaunches — something it says will happen but with no set time frame — it will include content from a variety of sources and not just be solely devoted to Google+ material. The company said:

Our vision is to have include Google+ information along with other realtime data from a variety of sources.

Google Realtime Search had carried content from a variety of services beyond Twitter, including Facebook fan page updates. When we last wrote about the service in April, when it added Quora and Gowalla content, this was the full source list:

  • Twitter tweets
  • Google News links
  • Google Blog Search links
  • Newly created web pages
  • Freshly updated web pages
  • FriendFeed updates
  • Jaiku updates
  • updates
  • TwitArmy updates
  • Google Buzz posts
  • MySpace updates
  • Facebook fan page updates
  • Quora
  • Gowolla
  • Plixi
  • Me2day
  • Twitgoo

Still, as said, Twitter was the by far the most dominant content within the service. It’s unclear why the agreement was allowed to expire. Twitter sent me this:

Since October 2009, Twitter has provided Google with the stream of public tweets for incorporation into their real-time search product and other uses. That agreement has now expired. We continue to provide this type of access to Microsoft, Yahoo!, NTT Docomo, Yahoo! Japan and dozens of other smaller developers. And, we work with Google in many other ways.

For its part, Google said:

Twitter has been a valuable partner for nearly two years, and we remain open to exploring other collaborations in the future.

I’d say we have a bit of a standoff.

One reason I’d expect Twitter would do a deal with Google sometime soon is that otherwise, people largely have no way to locate tweets that are older than a few days.

Twitter has largely outsourced the service of Twitter search longer than a few days to Google, a deliberate decision so that Twitter could focus on other search features, such as its new Top Tweets feature, as covered more below:

The end of Google Realtime Search means that tiny search engine Topsy remains in the enviable situation of having the only major Twitter archive available on the web, to my knowledge. The stories below cover more about this:

Bing Social Search, which is a confusing name for what’s really Bing’s realtime search service, also has a deal with Twitter. Indeed, both the Twitter deals with Google and Microsoft were announced on the same day.

Twitter’s deal appears to be continuing with Bing. I still see search results showing up over there that include Twitter. But Bing’s service never went as far back in time as Google’s.

While Twitter may need Google to continue offering archive search, Google also potentially needs Twitter in another way. Google may have lost some of the data it has recently been using to bring social signals into its results, as covered more below:

I’ve not yet been able to check on whether Google Social Search and other parts of Google have been impacted by the deal’s end. I’ll look at that later — I’m heading off to enjoy the 4th Of July myself now.

Update: Google has sent us a statement addressing the issue above:

While we will not have access to this special feed from Twitter, information on Twitter that’s publicly available to our crawlers will still be searchable and discoverable on Google.

As for other features such as social search, they will continue to exist, though without Twitter data from the special feed.

You can certainly understand why Google+ has become even more important to the service now. While Google has gotten by largely without social signals from Facebook, having its own data from Google+ gives it insulation if it now has to get by without Twitter signals, as well.

Postscript: See our follow-up story, Google Realtime Search & The Aftermath Of The Google-Twitter Split.

Postscript 2: See our further follow-up stories:


Related Stories

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Features: Analysis | Google: Google+ | Google: Real Time Search | Google: Social Search | Top News | Topsy | Twitter | Twitter: Business Issues


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • gregorylent

    i would pay us$100 for my twitter history .. just to see who i was then. my bet is twitter doesn’t have it anymore.

  • M. Edward Borasky

    Painfully obvious question – do Bing and Yahoo still have access to the Twitter Firehose?

  • Athar Basha

    i searched few keywords yesterday in Google to get its Realtime results..but, unfortunately i didn’t get any. I thought it might be a temporary server down, but now i got confirmation that latest trend tweets from twitter won’t be accessible from Google Realtime Search.. It’s very sad to know about this…Google should have extended their contract for more years..:-)

  • U.M.

    I was really upset about Google dumping the real time search, i used it almost everyday however I have come up with a temporary solution .Twitter does have it’s own search engine if any one cares to try it See what’s happening — right now.Just drop in a key word, same as the pre-Google one.It’s better than nothing, give it a whirl.

  • Matt Crouch

    As much as I like Google, you just can’t depend on them. Now I am on Google + and don’t know if I should be excited about it. I was excited about Wave too and where all know how that ended.

  • U.M.

    @Matt you can’t depend on Google I totally agree nor it seems twitter for, changing it’s search engine page. My above comment url does not work and it’s not a redirect either.So then to all the people who have tried the link “Sorry” here it is again. See what’s happening on twitter

  • Jeroen Maljers

    You can make your own Google realtime search with Google’s own tool Google CSE. I made an example

  • Martino Mosna

    The funny thing is that the Real time link in the main menu is not gone yet: (this is the italian Google homepage).

    I think they are planning to return real time search back soon.

  • Markus Jalmerot

    A big mistake by Twitter if you ask me.. They should do everything they can to be featured like that in Google..

  • Stephen Liu

    Techcrunch’s Arrington has long argued that the main value of Twitter is its real-time search engine of posts. If Twitter is about broadcasting to large audience, there is no audience larger than the gazillions of people searching on Google. As G+ acquires critical mass, expect Google to create a Google News-type real-time aggregation of G+ posts. If you saw how Google insidiously inserted Google Places into search results above Yelp, Expedia, and Trip Advisor listings (while scraping their reviews) — I could imagine Google beginning to priority index G+ posts or perhaps adding a real-time G+ news box next to a Google results page. G+ (minus Twitter) is Google’s real-time search engine. A longer post on this is here:

  • Mooch

    Hey folks!

    I found your website today via Google while searching about Twitter’s new search upgrade. This article above is the second I’ve read from your website today, and like the first one I read 5 minutes ago, this article has far too many grammatical errors.

    I understand we all make mistakes, but please consider proofreading your work before publishing. After finding this error in your 3rd paragraph, “Google also stressed that went Google Realtime Search relaunches…” I stopped reading and decided to comment here instead. I’ve chosen not to finish this article.

    Here’s to improvement, thanks.

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