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.

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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.

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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 protected]