Google quietly added a trending topics section to Google+ last night which now shows up when you perform a search on the social network. The new “Trends” section appears on the right-hand side of the page, and currently lists the top 10 items under heavy discussion like “Natalie Wood” and “Breaking Dawn,” for example.
The feature was first spotted by Richard Lusk who posted a screenshot to Google+ and tweeted about the update. Because the feature only appears after you perform a search, Lusk and others are suggesting that “Trends” should appear next to the homepage’s main stream, where the feature would be more obvious. That’s probably not a bad idea, but for now that space is used to prompt users to add more friends via “Suggestions” and “Send Invitations.” Since Google+ is still trying to grow its user base, it may not be ready to give up that key spot just yet.
What’s more interesting about this development is its potential for future integration into Google Search. Earlier this month, the company announced a change to its algorithm (the “freshness” update) which impacted 35% of searches. The update’s goal was to better highlight more current content, including things like recent events, hot topics, reviews and breaking news items. The increased focus on more recent content seemed to almost forgo the need for a specific “real-time” search vertical, like the one that Google shuttered back in July when its contract with Twitter expired. At the time, the company said it would re-open Google.com/realtime with Google+ search results in the future. The introduction of Google+ Trends could certainly be the first step towards that.
We asked Google about its future plans in this area, but a spokesperson would only say that there are “no updates at this time for trends to be incorporated into Google Search.”
Image Credit: Richard Lusk
A Google project headed by Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz, Google+ is designed to be the social extension of Google. Its features focus on making online sharing easy for users. “Circles,” think social circles, akin to Facebook’s lists. “Sandbar,” a user-unifying toolbar. “Sparks,” a search engine for sharing content between users. “Messenger,” a group messaging app that allows users to share with certain “Circles.” “Hangouts,” group video chatting designed to allow up to 10 users video chat at once. Each Google+ user can replace his...