highlightingGoogle said today that it’s going to be using technology from Google Squared, the interesting-but-flawed search tool that the company launched last year, to improve its regular search results.

The idea is to help users find the right answers when they’re asking factual questions. That’s a big part of why people search for stuff on the web, and I think most of us have had the experience of clicking on page after page trying to find that one piece of information. Answer highlighting brings those answers directly into your results. So, for example, if you’re trying to find out the name of the chief executive of Twitter, you wouldn’t have to have to click on a search result and maybe find the right answer. Instead, if the answer is somewhere on a web page, you should see it highlighted right in Google.

answer highlightinganswer highlighting afterYou can see the difference in the screenshots to the right — the top one shows a normal search for “empire state height,” and the bottom shows the same search with answer highlighting.

Google says this is based on the technology it developed for Google Squared for identifying and extracting structured data. Squared is tackling a more ambitious task — not just finding answers, but building those answers into useful charts — but the results were pretty uneven. Not only does answer highlighting seem more doable, it also fits more easily into the kinds of searches I normally make.

The company also announced another improvement — after launching “rich snippets” last year, allowing website publishers to select the most relevant information to show in search results for reviews and people, Google is adding similar features for event listings.

Both answer highlighting and rich snippets for events will be rolled out over the next couple days.

[top image:flickr/stephmcg]

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