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When you search online, Search Engines answer your search query by providing a list of websites where you can find the information you’re looking for. It doesn’t tell you the answer to your search question, but shows you where you can find the answer.

All that might be changing. Last year saw the launch of Wolphram Alpha, a ‘knowledge engine’ that aims to solve your search query right within the results page.

For its part, Google launched Google Squared, which gives the user a list of results containing the information they’re looking for. Once again, Google doesn’t present a list of websites where you can find the answer, but tries to give you the information right there in the results page.

Now Google is trying to answer even more of your queries right in the results page. Their latest launch short answers, directly answers ‘millions of different fact-seeking searches’ with short answers at the top of the results.

For example, if you want to know when David Cameron was born, just type ‘David Cameron date of birth‘. The answer – 09th October 1966 – shows up at the top of the results, just above the website where Google found the info.

Google aren’t the only search engine trying to answer questions like this. Aside from Wolphram Alpha, Bing has ‘instant answers’ which aggregates information at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

If your website has lots of facts, and generates traffic from Google by answering questions, then this is going to have a negative impact on your visitor numbers. Google analytics will be able to tell you which search queries are resulting in visits to your website.

The odd thing about this new feature is that Google only makes money when you click on an advert, or if they send you off to a website where they are running ads. If they give you the answer without you having to leave, there’s no chance you’re going to click on an advert and make them some cash.

Google appears to be promoting what’s good for users above what makes them money. This isn’t a first for Google, who say they’ll do anything possible to make the user experience more ‘relevant’, even if that means they miss out commercially.

Have a look at Google short answers and let us know what you find.

Nick Leech runs Digital Marketing Agency Euston Digital

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