Google+ Gets Real-Time Search, Better Hashtags

Google adds real-time search capabilities and improved hashtag support to its Google+ social network as it seeks to catch Facebook.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Oct. 12 added real-time search and improved hashtag capabilities to Google+, two key features to help users search the fledgling social network.

Google+ is taking a lot of heat for mimicking Facebook features without providing any major value proposition that will make more of the incumbent social network's 800 million-plus users leave the Website to spend more time on Google+.

One obvious area where Google is superior to Facebook is in search. Google added Web search capabilities to Google+ Sept. 20. Now it has added a real-time search tool that will let users track events as they occur, according to Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of engineering for Google+.

When users search a term on Google+, they'll see a message, such as "one more recent post," that links to the new post as soon as it's available. Users can click on this message or select "Most recent" to see relevant posts appear in real time.

"This is especially useful for breaking news, sporting events, maybe your favorite TV show and many other examples," Gundotra said. See this in full detail on Search Engine Land here.

The real-time search capabilities come after Google failed to come to terms with Twitter to renew their agreement that would allow Google to integrate tweets on search. Google Fellow Amit Singhal said in August Google would bring real-time search back via Google+, and the company clearly delivered yesterday.

Meanwhile, Google+ has offered hashtag support since July, courtesy of Google developer and hashtag pioneer Chris Messina.

Now when users use a hashtag for a term, such as #android, Google+ will automatically link to search results centered on that topic.

As with the other 100-plus new features Google has added to the social network since its launch to limited field testing June 28, these features aren't groundbreaking.

But they should improve user engagement on the Website at a time when the average U.S. Facebook user is spending 8 hours a month at the incumbent's network.

That's user engagement Google would love to have.