Only hours after Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) started to include real-time Tweets in its Bing search engine, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) says it too has reached a similar agreement with Twitter. In a short blog post, Google’s Marissa Mayer doesn’t offer much detail about how her company’s relationship with Twitter will work but she says “we look forward to having a product that showcases how tweets can make search better in the coming months.”
There’s notably no mention of a Google deal to include updates from Facebook, which Microsoft also announced today. Microsoft should also have somewhat of an advantage in that its Twitter search feature debuted in beta this afternoon, so it could gain some traction before Google enters the real-time Twitter search fray (An aside: It might help if Bing’s feature — which you can try out here — was more straightforward and visually appealing. It’s unclear to me, for instance, why there are two groupings of “hottest topics” on Bing’s main Twitter page).
Google, like Microsoft, has been talking to Twitter for months about including Tweets in its search results. In fact, as far back as June, there were reports that Google would soon launch a search service that would index content from Twitter and other microblogging sites, in much the same way that it currently offers a blog search option.
One big question that remains after all of this deal-making is what will happen to Twitter’s own search option, which many consider to be the most monetizable part of its site. Already, Microsoft is improving on Twitter’s own search feature by ranking results not only by when Tweets are posted, but also by “best match,” which takes into account other factors, including the popularity of the Tweeter. It’s likely that Google too will offer some way of sifting through Tweets beyond how recent they are.
While Twitter has talked repeatedly about improving its own search service, nothing has come of those efforts so far. Now that it is giving all its real-time data to the big players, it’s difficult to see how Twitter will be able to compete with them in search functionality. Then again, Twitter is getting an undisclosed amount of money in exchange and certainly has the advantage of hosting the search engine which is featured on its own site.