When we first introduced our real-time search features last December, we focused on bringing relevance to the freshest information on the web. Our goal was to provide real-time content from a comprehensive set of sources, integrated right into your usual search results. Today we’re making our most significant enhancements to date, giving real-time information its own home and more powerful tools to help you find what you need. Now you can access Google Realtime Search at its own address, www.google.com/realtime (the page is rolling out now and should be available soon. Use this link if you want to try out the new features right away).

On the new homepage you’ll find some great tools to help you refine and understand your results. First, you can use geographic refinements to find updates and news near you, or in a region you specify. So if you’re traveling to Los Angeles this summer, you can check out tweets from Angelenos to get ideas for activities happening right where you are.

In addition, we’ve added a conversations view, making it easy to follow a discussion on the real-time web. Often a single tweet sparks a larger conversation of re-tweets and other replies, but to put it together you have to click through a bunch of links and figure it out yourself. With the new “full conversation” feature, you can browse the entire conversation in a single glance. We organize the tweets from oldest to newest and indent so you quickly see how the conversation developed.

Finally, we’ve also added updates content to Google Alerts, making it easy to stay informed about a topic of your choosing. Now you can create an alert specifically for “updates” to get an email the moment your topic appears on Twitter or other short-form services. Or, if you want to manage your email volume, you can set alerts to email you once per day or week.

Check out our demo video of the new features and quick tips on how to use them:

You can access Realtime Search by typing www.google.com/realtime directly into your browser, or clicking the “Updates” link in the left-hand panel of your search results. Set up your Google Alerts at www.google.com/alerts. Realtime Search and updates in Google Alerts are available globally in 40 languages, and the geographic refinements and conversations views are available in English, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. The features are rolling out now, but you can use this link to see them right away.