Google have kicked off the new year with a major improvement, they’re applying the research behind Google Squared to add a new “answer-highlighting” feature to search results.
According to Google, “most information on the web is unstructured. For example, blogs integrate paragraphs of text, videos and images in ways that don’t follow simple rules. Product review sites each have their own formats, rating scales and categories. Unstructured data is difficult for a computer to interpret, which means that humans still have to do a fair amount of work to process and understand information on the web.”
Google Squared is one of Google’s early efforts to automatically identify and extract structured data from across the Internet. Google’s been making progress, and today the research behind Google Squared is, for the first time, attempting to provide the user with better search results with their new feature called “answer highlighting.”
According to Google, answer highlighting helps users get to information more quickly by seeking out and bolding the likely answer to their question right in the search results. The feature is meant for searches with factual answers such as when did Tony Blair become prime minister, If the pages returned for these queries contain a simple answer, the search snippet will more often include the relevant text and bold it for easy reference.
The following example highlights this new feature in the past, the search for [empire state height], the result used to look like this:
With today’s changes, the answer —1250 ft, or 381 m — is highlighted right in the search result:
This is a major development on Google’s part and goes to show the level of effort being placed on maintaining its lead as the search leader especially with Bing’s push to become the “decision engine”
What will this mean to site owners? the news is not good I’m afraid. If search users are able to find the answers to their questions on the Google results pages (SERPS) then there will be no need to click through to the final destination.
Let’s wait and see.