SAN FRANCISCO, May 15 (Reuters) - Google is revamping the way it handles searches in the United States to give users quick access to answers without leaving the page, the company said.
The new search process is based on what Google calls the "knowledge graph" -- meaning that it tries to pinpoint faster the context surrounding its users' keyword searches.
"Over the years, as search has improved, people expect more," said Amit Singhal, vice president of engineering at Google and the head of search, in an interview. "We see this as the next big improvement in search relevance."
The redesign, which for now affects only U.S.-based English language users, is gradually being rolled starting Wednesday on desktop, mobile and tablet platforms. Google plans to eventually expand the new search features outside the U.S., Singhal said, without specifying when.
Many of the results will carry more graphical elements, compared to standard lists of search results, such as maps and pictures of related results, often in separate pop-ups. The idea is to let users easily discover what related material interests them and click through to it, Singhal said.
The offering is the latest example of search companies moving away from offering a list of text-based links as search results. Last week, Microsoft's Bing unveiled a redesign that includes a "snapshot" column. Last year, Yahoo rolled out its "search direct box."
Google is by far the leader in search, with 66 percent of the U.S. market, according to comScore.
But it sees other sites such as Facebook as competition, as users there can poll their friends and acquaintances for information on various topics without leaving the Facebook ecosystem.