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How to Search the Web Real-Time

07 October 2009 Posted by in category: Internet tools with Tags , , , , , ,

This is a guest post by Ann Smarty, a social media and search blogger and online entrepreneur.

Real-time search is the latest achievement of web 2.0. Never before was it so easy to speak to the whole world and to be instantly heard. This post overviews the 4 most popular search engines capable of generating fresh results.

It is hard to compare them to choose the best one: there are no winners in this game. They all have some benefits and should be used in particular cases:

Real-time search engine Data source How old are the results? Most important benefit
Twitter Twitter discussions Instant The huge service popularity and thus a large index of data
Facebook Facebook discussions Instant The huge service popularity and thus a large index of data
Google Google web index One hour old Plenty of search opportunities
Friendfeed Most social networks + all user-added feeds Instant Multiple data sources combined

Twitter Search

Twitter search is the most popular real-time search engine nowadays for a few good reasons:

  • Indexing time: the moment the update goes live, it is already in the index;
  • Huge database: everyone seems to be on Twitter by now, therefore the user base is huge as well as the number of results for any topic.

Twitter search offers a few really useful advanced search operators, among them:

  • From this person [from:username]
  • To this person [to:username]
  • Referencing this person [@username]
  • Tweets asking the question [include ? to the search results]
  • Updates containing positive/negative attitude [include :) / :( to the search results]

Let me demonstrate the power of one of the above search operators by the following example: consider searching for negative reviews when researching some product/ service, for example: look for dissatisfied customers:

Twitter real-time search example

There are plenty of other real-time Twitter-based search engines to check out: CrowdEye, OneRiot, TweetMeme,Collecta

Facebook Search

Facebook search was announced not a long time ago, thus there aren’t as many tools and applications so far as for Twitter search but it is still something that must be given a try. Here’s a quick overview of what you can do with the new facebook search:

  • search the last 30 days of your news feed for status updates, photos, links, videos and notes being shared by your friends and the Facebook Pages of which you’re a fan.
  • search for status updates, links and notes of other people who are not your friends but who have chosen to make their updates public;

You can also filter results to see only those that contain links, to get only wall posts and status updates or to only search other people’s notes. Here’s an example of search results page giving you an idea of what people on Facebook think about GoDaddy:

Facebok search example

Google Search

While Google doesn’t currently offer the real time search in the sense we’ve discussed above, I found it absolutely necessary to mention it here – Google lets you search one-hour-old results (the search option found in the side panel); so let’s call it “near real-time search”

The reason why I think it should be included here is that Google can search within any site in its index. This means, you can turn any site into a near real-time search platform. This turns particularly useful for huge user-edited sites.

Here’s a real-life example for you: I love tracking online deals because they help me save some money; my favorite tool to do that is Buxr. To find its latest updates on, say, laptops, I need:

  • To search [ laptops] on Google;
  • Then click “More options” to open the side panel and click “Past hour” to see the latest updates.

Google past hour search

Now, the most obvious question to ask here is why not to use the site built-in search platform. Google gives many more options than any other known search platform. You can use advanced search and side panel search options to display images from the page, see not yet visited results, get only most recent updates, etc.


Unlike the above three search engines, Friendfeed largely operates external data bases but it is also quite a powerful real time search tool. It combines multiple social networks to generate recent search results.

Friendfeed streamlines relevant results from a number of social networks including Twitter, Delicious,, StumbleUpon, etc plus numerous other sites added by its users. Its search options are quite limited though: the only thing you can do is to provide a search term and hit “Search”: there are no advanced options, sorting or filtering results, etc:

Friendfeed real-time search

Similar tool aggregating other networks results to check out: Scoopler

Do you use any real-time search engines? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

The guest post is by Ann Smarty, a social media and search blogger and online entrepreneur.

4 Responses to “How to Search the Web Real-Time”

  1. Caterina Policaro 7 October 2009 at 5:07 pm (PERMALINK)

    Thanks! Useful post

  2. Mark Essel 8 October 2009 at 1:52 pm (PERMALINK)

    I wrote up a post not too long back about real time search, more is better was the concept. Thanks for going through some of the major tools and walking through their usage :).
    If you find yourself in need of a quick real time search mashup, please feel free to use my selfishly crafted

    Looking forward to more personally relevant two way searches and maybe even to help build search assistant software with semantic tools (check for a work in progress that can call the search, and even fire off Google ads contextually related to Twitter status)

  3. OrenR 8 October 2009 at 9:39 pm (PERMALINK)

    You can also search google in less than one hour –