Taking a page from Twitter, Google's new social network, Google+, is releasing two new features that will help users search posts more easily: real-time search results and improved hashtag support.
The releases come during a particularly difficult week for Google. An employee accidentally shared an update on Google+ publicly, calling out the execution of Google+ as a "pathetic afterthought" in a public post. Chitika, a data analytics firm, released a report claiming that Google+ traffic has dropped by a whopping 60 percent.
Undaunted, Google CEO Larry Page claimed that Google+ was on the right track and has attracted more than 40 million users during a conference call Thursday to discuss the company's third quarter financial results. He also hinted that a bigger Google+ integration into Google's suite of products is coming, saying: Think about it this way: Last quarter, we shipped the 'Plus,' and now we're going to ship the Google part, he said.
In a Google+ post, Google's SVP of Engineering, Vic Gundotra, said he hopes these two new features will "make it easier to follow and contribute to live events on Google+, including breaking news, sporting events, and many others." Here's what you need to know about them.
Google+ Real-Time Search
Last month, Google+ announced the search feature. Now when you search in Google+, you'll see a message about new posts immediately once they're available.
To do this, enter a term into the search bar and hit Enter. The results that appear will be the "best posts" on that topic.
If you wait a few seconds, depending on how popular your search term is, you'll notice a box appear on the top that denotes the most recent posts related to your search term--very similar to how Twitter streams function. Click it to begin streaming the results in real-time. To pause the stream, just click the Pause button in the top-right, and click Play to resume real-time streaming.
Improved Google+ Hashtags
Google+ hashtags function the same way that Twitter hashtags do. Use the (#) symbol to categorize a post. Once you share it, Google+ will automatically link the hashtag to search results. You don't need to use hashtags on Google+ since search will work without them.
If you don't notice the new features yet, you should receive them soon. Google's Gundotra says that both features are rolling out gradually.
Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking and Web 2.0 for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at email@example.com