Google (NSDQ: GOOG), which just last week launched a redesign of its search results page, is now introducing some changes to the content of its results too. The company says it will directly answer “millions of different fact-seeking searches” with short answers at the top of its results. Search for “Catherine Zeta-Jones date of birth,” for instance, and the date shows up at the top, along with where Google is pulling the information from. Google says the feature is based on Google Squared, the experimental search tool it rolled out a year ago that gathers facts from the around the web and presents them in an organized way.
This is very much the way search market appears to be headed. Microsoft’s Bing, for instance, has tried to differentiate itself with “instant answers,” which feature aggregated information at the top of results (Compare the results for “Cavs” in both Google and Bing, for instance). And WolframAlpha seems to be the rare search startup that is surviving — it says thriving — by providing data-driven answers to factual queries. It tells you when Zeta-Jones was born.