Google Blog Search Takes Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Last fall Google launched a revamped version of its Blog Search, converting the site’s frontpage into a automated news portal similar to sites like Techmeme. It has its fair share of issues (for one, it’s subject to the same problems of automated grouping as Google News is), but it was a step in the right direction for the site.

That said, it has been missing some key features. For one, there hasn’t been a good way to track breaking news stories as they happen — generally stories only pop up as they gain momentum and are written about by multiple sites, which can take quite a while (relatively speaking). There also hasn’t been a way to subscribe to a feed of the latest stories via RSS, which nearly every other similar site offers.

Today, Blog Search is finally adding these features. Each feed now offers its own RSS/Atom feeds, as well as an iGoogle gadget that integrates new top stories into your Google homepage. Finally, the site has added sections for both ‘Hot Queries”, which shows the most popular search terms, and “Latest Posts”, an unfiltered view of the latest blog posts indexed by the search engine. These last two features could be quite useful for tracking breaking news, especially given how fast Blog Search is at finding new blog posts.

Unfortunately, they’re not quite there yet. My biggest gripe is that the ‘hot queries’ and ‘latest posts’ sections are not category-specific. In other words, when I’m browsing through the Technology section of Blog Search, I’m still being shown new posts about McDonalds, Exxon, and Asteroids. The Hot Queries section is equally irrelevant. This is especially strange given that Google is already categorizing the blog posts into different sections based on their topic, and I’m hoping that Google will at least offer a filtered view as an option.