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Google search piles on pounds of facts to score fat dollar

Hopes to keep users on Chocolate Factory web pages for longer

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Google has tweaked how its results are displayed in its recently overhauled search engine in a move to keep users on its web pages for longer.

Exactly a year since the company launched Google Squared, which is the Mountain View Chocolate Factory’s attempt at structured data search, Google has rolled out new features to take advantage of it.

Last week Google changed its search results page by pushing more information to a left-side menu, which made it look a bit like Microsoft Bing to us.

Yesterday it began refining search queries even more by plonking specific fact results directly on its page.

So, if you search for David Cameron’s date of birth, or information about who is the president of Ecuador (it’s Rafael Correa Delgado, in case you wondered) Google delivers the facts directly to its page, thereby stopping people from having to click on another link to see the result.

It’s quite a nifty feature for anyone looking for a quick hit of fairly standard informational results from the search engine, especially when using a mobile device, for example.

But then, those businesses that have paid a premium to AdWords to get people searching Google to click on their webpages might not be quite so chuffed with Mountain View's latest ad broker gameplay.

Google said it has also slotted a “something different” section into its left-hand menu, which was developed in Google Squared experimental tech.

“While I’m happy with the progress we’ve made, there’s much more to be accomplished in this area - from searches that have multiple answers, like [us supreme court justices], to searches too complex for us to understand today, like [what major did bill clinton’s daughter study at stanford?],” said Google search tech boss John Provine.

“We’ll continue to look for new ways to apply our deepening understanding of the web to improve your search results. Both new features will be available globally in English (something different is available now, and the improved answers feature should finish rolling out by the end of the week).”

Microsoft's Bing doesn't offer a similar feature yet. And as for the more complex stuff, like the one about Bill Clinton's daughter, even computational knowledge engine egghead Wolfram Alpha currently fails to deliver the correct result. ®

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