While Twitter is looking at ways to be more search-ey, Google is apparently thinking about ways to be more microbloggy. Buried in a Reuters article about Google’s shareholders meeting yesterday is this paragraph about the company’s interest in the social web:
“Company executives who appeared alongside Schmidt at the media briefing said Google was looking at ways to generate money from the surge of social networking activity on the Internet, as well as at ways of integrating microblogging capabilities, such as those popularized by Twitter, into its search product.”
(emphasis is mine)
It’s not in quotes, so we’re left wondering what the exact words and context were … not to mention how Google might “integrate microblogging capabilities” into search. That seems to suggest something more than just offering “Twitter search” or improving its real-time search capabilities.
On ReadWriteWeb, Marshall Kirkpatrick speculates three possibilities: adding microblogs as a search option (like images, video, etc.), using microblogging links to supplement the freshness factor of Google’s algorithm (which I suspect is already happening to some degree), or adding a status update box to its search interface, perhaps encouraging users to answer the question, “What are you searching for?”
Marshall thinks that last option is most likely, but I’m thinking a version of the first idea is most likely: not just adding a microblog search option, but adding real-time/microblog results as a onebox/universal search result. There’s already a Greasemonkey script that does this. But just as Google imports news articles, blog posts, videos, etc., for its blended search results, I could see microblog updates being pulled into Google’s search results. This would make the most sense on hot topics, breaking news, and the more immediate types of queries/information where Google’s traditional results don’t always give the user the information s/he wants.
Then again, I never thought I’d see the day that Google would let users add or remove search results, so take my guess with the proverbial grain of salt.
Update: On the L.A. Times blog, David Sarno shares the exact text of what Marissa Mayer said yesterday about Google and microblogging:
“What’s really happening in Twitter is that there are a lot of clues in it in terms of what’s happening that’s interesting overall. It’s similar to what we see in Google Trends, where people will often type what they’re interested in into the search box, and we can make some predictions off of that.
So we are interested in being able to offer, for example, micro-blogging and micro-messaging in our search. Particularly in Blog Search and possibly in Web Search, but we don’t have any particular plans to announce.”
So, taking that at face value, it sounds like we shouldn’t expect Google to be adding any update-your-status boxes, but a more obvious integration of Twitter/microblogging content into search results is on the table.
Postscript by Barry Schwartz: Google Operating System spotted that in the Google in Your Language project, Google is asking translators to help translate the description of a possible Google Microblogging search engine. The specific text Google is asking to be translated is:
Recent updates about QUERY. This is the MicroBlogsearch Universal result group header text. A Microblog is a blog with very short entries. Twitter is the popular service associated with this format.
Just some more evidence that Google is working towards a Google Micro Blog search engine.