Google has confirmed it’s testing a new feature in the search results that asks searchers to submit a more detailed question to the company directly in the search results box. The box says, “Get the answer that you’re looking for added to the web,” and it feeds the information to Google. In exchange, Google tells us it may pass the question along to content creators who may be able to publish articles on their properties to better answer these questions.

Google is looking to create more content that it can index and ultimately return to searchers, which will help more searchers find what they are looking for. This content would not be given any special ranking boost, but would ultimately be indexed and ranked like any other piece of content Google discovers on the web.

This feature was spotted by Manashjyoti Athparia and posted in an online forum. Here is his screen shot of the user interface for this “small scale experiment,” as Google put it to us:

A Google spokesperson told us that this is a small scale experiment designed to continue surfacing high quality, relevant results for our users by supporting a healthy content ecosystem. This surfaces when Google thinks the searcher is not finding what they are looking for. Then Google will experiment with ways to highlight these questions to content creators who may be able to publish articles on their properties to better answer these questions. One such way is demonstrated above.

Google added that the goal is to enrich the entire web ecosystem and thereby improve search results for users who may search for the same question in the future. Google said it does not plan to create that content, nor does the company plan to pay others to create the content. Google also told us it does not share any information with third parties beyond the actual text of the question typed by the user into the box provided.

After the user submits the question, the box thanks them and closes automatically. Nothing more is shown to the searcher. This is a screen shot of the “learn more” content for this box:

About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry can be followed on social media at @rustybrick, +BarrySchwartz and Facebook. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio and disclosures, click over here.

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