Just days after pointing out how its search algorithms are bold-facing synonyms to highlight the search engine’s semantic search chops, Google said it will soon start bold-facing factual answers.
What does Google classify as a “factual answer”? Answers to queries for specific information, such as heights, weights, dates and other trivia that may come in handy for general knowledge or even research reports.
These answers exist online unstructured in texts, blogs and other Websites, making it hard for algorithms to surface the most relevant info. This is akin to the semantic search challenge Google has before it in recognizing synonyms to help divine better results for users.
To address this unstructured data challenge, Google created Google Squared and launched it to Labs in June. Squared brings order to the chaos of unstructured Web data by ordering search results into a spreadsheet form factor.
Google’s public search engine will begin leveraging the technology in Squared as a feature it calls “answer highlighting,” a fancy way of saying Google will try to put answers to factual questions in bold face.
The idea is to help users more easily pick them out from search result snippets. Answer highlighting will roll out broadly in the next couple of days in English (no word on its availability for other languages).
Accordingly, it’s hard to find results influenced by Squared without knowing what to look for. Google provides some examples here, noting:
“Answer highlighting helps you get to information more quickly by seeking out and bolding the likely answer to your question right in search results. The feature is meant for searches with factual answers, such as [meet john doe director], [john lennon died], or [what was the political party of president ford]. 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.“
But to show how the inclusion of Squared technology truly changes the search result snippets, Google provides the example of the query “empire state height” for those who look up the height of what is perhaps New York City’s most famous building:
Keep your eyes peeled for answer highlighting, which comes nearly three months after Google fortified Squared with more facts, better relevance, sort and rank capabilities, and the ability to export data to Google Spreadsheets.
That wasn’t all Google did this week in search. One of the other technologies introduced at Google’s May Searchology event was rich snippets, which pack more metadata into Google search results based on structured data annotation from Webmasters.
To date, Google has featured rich snippets for reviews and people. Beginning today, Google is adding rich snippet support for events, which will include dates, locations and times for concerts, plays, games and other happenings in various cities.
I’ve tried the Webster Hall and Roseland Ballroom in New York, as well as the Regency Theater in San Francisco. So far, all I can spot are dates for concerts at New York’s Irving Plaza:
Also, a search for Toad’s Place in Connecticut brings up venue info, booking and Lilly’s pad:
Not sure if this is part of the new event metadata for rich snippets or not.
Let me know if you see any others popping up. It could be just that Google doesn’t have very many options here yet.
Indeed, Google said rich snippets for events will be a gradual rollout as Webmasters get up to speed on the new format.