By 4 years ago in Google

Google starts showing full page previews in search results

Google is today testing a major new layout to their search results – full page previews of the target site and blue backgrounds behind the search results when you hover over them. Click the image below for a full size version.

One of the fascinating things about this is that they are highlighting certain sections of the page in orange and expanding the text to provide a snippet of information. This shows that they have the technology to know exactly where a piece of text is on every single web page. The snippets highlighted are not always the same as the snippet in the search results.

The size of the preview seems to be pretty much the full page although some longer pages are cropped at the bottom. You can click anywhere on the preview to take you directly to the site.

In addition to this they are now showing multiple results from the same site without indenting the results – see how myvouchercodes.co.uk has 1st and 2nd for the query above. This change follows a similar one they did in August Google to start showing more results from one particular site when users entered a brand related query.

Look how freelanceuk.com has 2nd & 3rd for the query above.

This new change is for non-brand queries as well. We have seen sites occupying 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th for some queries! Thanks to Digital production agency for point this one out.

To be 100% clear – this is not a plugin. I’m using Google Chrome incognito mode with no plugins installed.

Screenshots via digital agencies.

By Patrick Altoft. at 1:51PM on Wednesday, 06 Oct 2010

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events. Follow Patrick Altoft on Twitter.

comments

135 Responses to “Google starts showing full page previews in search results”

  1. Lewy says:

    I’ve retweeted this but since then I’ve been trying and can’t seem to replicate this at all. Could this possibly be a plugin?

  2. Chris Gedge says:

    Were you logged in when you saw this Patrick? Was Google instant enabled?

  3. [...] SEO consultant Patrick Altoft says he has spotted something fresh while using the search engine: full-page previews of search [...]

  4. [...] SEO consultant Patrick Altoft says he has spotted something fresh while using the search engine: full-page previews of search [...]

  5. Simon Dance says:

    Very interesting.

    Are you signed in?

    And is the blue rollover shading on your part? or is it visible on rollover?

  6. It just goes to show how much value we as SEO’s can provide to our clients in an advisory capacity. People will want to know how this affects them and what the best strategies are. I think that every time Google tweak their algo or technology, rather than being a threat to the SEO community it is actually an opportunity for more work.

  7. rob @ claims says:

    wierd – works in chrome, not FF or IE for me.

    Whats this started? SEO to STO – Search Thumbnail Optimisation ;-)

  8. Christian says:

    I have also not been able to see an example of this in the SERPs.

    Could this be something on trial in the US? Perhaps we will see it it the UK at a later date?

  9. Rob Barham says:

    Is it a “live” preview or cached ?

  10. Traphic says:

    Anybody noticing this and more ideas being taken from Bing and applied to Google?

  11. Hunter says:

    Finally something to counter-act the spammy, text-driven, customer-spiteful, over-SEO’d sites that pollute the results and bury other sites that strive to achieve a user-friendly balance between aesthetics and content. Users will be able to get a glimpse of a site that is designed for them and not Google. Google says they want to provide users with the best results but the sites they rank highest don’t always have the customer themselves as the target audience. This should hopefully even things out a bit.

  12. Gary says:

    adding ‘&results=bing’ to the end of the domain doesn’t work either :(

  13. Gary says:

    on a mroe serous note, i really hope this feature can be disabled if it goes live.

  14. [...] snippet previews This was highlighted by Patrick Altoft earlier today. Triggered by clicking on a particular result, it allows users to preview the page [...]

  15. Gary says:

    @Hunter do you not think that by what you have just said, the best looking websites at a glance will then gain the clicks?

  16. Christian says:

    Interesting, I will keep an eye out for this then. Thanks Patrick.

  17. Mick Meaney says:

    I’ve tested with a few browsers, signed in, signed out, Instant on, Instant off.. can’t get the same results but I’ll keep testing over the next few days.

    One thing springs to mind if Google change the SERPs like this.. Adwords CTR would surely drop, which makes me wonder if it’s a serious addition.

  18. TravisV says:

    I’m not sure I get why this is noteworthy? It’d be one thing if it were 1995 and took 30-45 seconds to load a web page (where a preview to assess whether it was worth opening would be helpful). But when current internet speeds open pages in <1 sec, it's almost cumbersome to hover over any link to get a preview. Not naysaying Google – freaking incredible and just keeps getting better. But for me this particular feature solves a problem that I don't have.

  19. Printoutlet says:

    Proves that the meaningful content is the key to successful search engine optimization. Definately a step in the right direction.

  20. Bill Sebald says:

    Obstructs paid search ads. Interesting.

  21. Martypants says:

    Hey Patrick – I also saw the non-indented multiple listing thing yesterday, and thought I was seeing things. I saw one site with 4 results on page one in a money long-tail phrase. Have not seen the previews yet, though. I’m over in Atlanta, BTW.

  22. [...] Altoft reports seeing full page previews with a magnifying glass in the Google search results. Patrick swears this [...]

  23. Slava says:

    This sucks! This means that now Google is infriging on copyright at Internet-scale. Every site is infriged, since Google creates a copy and displays it on their own site. People now won’t even have a need to visit our sites to get the information that Google now steals from our sites.

    This sucks. If this passes – Google conquers the Internet and all content producers are now out of job.

  24. This is interesting but even I don’t see this when I tried Google… If it’s true..Its a great news..Hope it’s not a plugin… Can you try again on other browser as well?

  25. Nathan says:

    I hate when people say they just took a bing idea when they just didn’t. Google had this over a year ago it just was not real time plus you could say bing stole it from addons.

  26. Oh, you should have viewed and copied the source of the page. So we could have enough proof that Google is doing such stuff. Anyway, it’s a great thing. Google’s doing the best it can… not being too much icandy – simple and functional.

  27. [...] like this story? Google has apparently begun testing full page previews in its search results.Both Blogstorm and TheNextWeb have captured screenshots of the new feature, which allows you to view a miniature [...]

  28. Barb says:

    My concern is pageload time. Google has recently been all about load time, and it doesn’t seem as if this would improve it. It therefore seems as if there should be a button to allow users the opportunity to expand the results if desired or continue with the current results until they have honed in on something they might wantto see more of.

  29. Greg Uhrlen says:

    Looking at the image file example, if the sample content image blows out that wide, it will cannibalize the PPC area. However, using the “Page Previews” option with Google Chrome, the image stays within the organic boundary line.

  30. [...] has apparently begun testing full page previews in its search results.Both Blogstorm and TheNextWeb have captured screenshots of the new feature, which allows you to view a miniature [...]

  31. [...] Google users are spotting full page previews today, according to Patrick Altoft at Blogstorm. This allows users to see important content from a website without clicking through to the link. [...]

  32. [...] introduced its Instant Search product early last month, offering as-you-type search results and suggestions. [...]

  33. Sachin says:

    I have yet to see this in real ..but seems fantastic for websites and their exposure

  34. Shiva says:

    Sounds and looks really promising but I cannot see it when in Google out here. Maybe Google just tested it for a small timeframe…and wanted to see people reaction or results…maybe some kind of testing or so

  35. Marty Martin says:

    I’m seeing this on Google.com when logged in and using Chrome. Works on most searches at the moment.

  36. Juan says:

    We were working in the same direction http://www.tweeshot.com google will take all the cake :)

  37. [...] Feature zu testen: Das Einblenden einer kompletten Seitenvorschau auf der Suchergebnisseite. Zuerst berichtete der britische SEO-Blogger Patrick Altoft von der neuen Funktionalität, Ulf Weihbold von smarter [...]

  38. [...] with no fanfare or official announcement, Google users in the US and elsewhere began to notice some changes to their normal SERPs. For me personally, it only seems to occur when [...]

  39. Stephen says:

    Oh Patrick, you are the king of boring commentary on the utterly mundane. You’ve been at it for years and years, when it going to get old?

    Please spice it up, you tirelessly sleep-inducing cock-jockey.

  40. I suspect Google will be seeing a large number of lawsuits. If a class action lawsuit is in the works let me know so I can get involved.

  41. Christian says:

    Stephen, if you are so bored of Patricks’ commentry why do you read it? Perhaps if you cannot think of anything constructive to say that adds to the discussion you should keep it to yourself.

    Patrick, I enjoy your short, to the point articles that give a taster of new issues. Well timed as you tend to send them as I return from lunch making for some easy reading. Keep up the good work. Ignore the haters.

  42. Laura says:

    This is a TV oriented feature…for sure.
    On my opinion, this will be implemented on Google Tv when you want to have a quick preview of a program / channel.
    We would have to focus on why they are testing all these new features: mobile and Tv. PC will be just a Tv integration…and I think this is awesome…

  43. Martin Woods says:

    Well looks like google is leading the way for the other Search Engines as usual. Not really sure how this would really help, would be funny if it started showing scrapped sites too.

  44. Gary says:

    I may have found what it is (mabe)

    Patrick, are you using the Dev version of Chrome on a mac??

    The latest Dev version of chrome on a mac has the following update

    [r61077] Add ‘Page Info Bubble’ lab (Issue 52916)

    Saying this, we have tried it and cant get it to work.

  45. Gary says:

    ah, it seems to have everyone intrigued anyway :)

  46. Prachi D says:

    Not seeing this at all. Is it in US?

    Definitley not on IE & FF.
    Tried being logged in to see this but still no joy.

  47. Jeff Herbst says:

    Nope it isn’t a plug-in we saw the same thing on Tuesday of this week. Google must be testing it in limited data centers. Here is the link to our screen shots – http://www.suppliesguys.com/Blog/Peripheral-Visions/new-google-search-preview-october-2010

  48. ns says:

    Bing did it, Bing did it!! that’s all I can say, Shame Google is coping someone else’s idea and only expanding on it, rather than coming up with something fab themselves

  49. Hunter says:

    @Gary Yes. Design of the site in the preview will have a direct effect on clickthrough.

    If you have ever seen the difference in bouncerate that design revisions to a site have made or the difference in conversion rates that just the color of a button on a landing page can make, you would have to agree. Design elicits a reaction in humans – and that can’t be ignored.

    Google is great at finding what it determines to be relevant content and what are the best results for the user based on the things it can understand – link profiles, page content, site structure – but it can’t tap into the more abstract issues such as design that also factor into what a user would consider a relevant and positive result.

    Combine this with factoring in CTR of results into the ranking algorithm like Bing just confirmed and this could be Google’s way of bringing in a more human factor into their ranking.

    Which may sound crazy, but all the recent changes have been trying to make it more user-friendly and this seems right on track with Google Instant in terms of trying to provide the customer faster access to search results.

    This way they can keep the user on the page even longer as they preview search results – no click away and maybe come back. Plus, even though some people are worried it obstructs AdWords results, it probably disappears between mouseovers and if they are keeping you on the results page sooner, that is longer exposure to the ads for possible clicks).

    This could be a very positive move towards encouraging a more well-rounded approach towards site development with the overall customer experience being addressed.

  50. Amir says:

    This is a controversial feature as can be seen from the comments. Personally I think it’s fantastic if it will ever come to life (again). It will certainly change the SEO focus from pure ‘text’ optimization to something more visually pleasing.

  51. chriss says:

    You are jocking, right? I didn’t ever see an original idea in any m$ products.

    I also say this bubble, in FF 3.6 and 4 on google com with instant disabled

  52. JRogier says:

    This makes it even more important for a web page to be easy to scan; easy to understand what the heck is being sold; content/design that can be understood in a SPLIT SECOND. After all, when the full page preview is displayed the

  53. Martin says:

    I’m not seeing it but I like this new feature.

  54. Joshuaava says:

    Patrick which browser are you using? Bing also done this but its limited that means a summary not the entire page as Google. Google best!

  55. Glynn says:

    Interesting addition by Google, but it does seem like a bit of a copy/similar to what Bing has, with their snippet.

  56. Nail Yener says:

    Is this a U.S. only test at the moment? I can’t see it in my local Google.

  57. Naresh Goyal says:

    Bing first started this some time back. This is only taking the Idea from Bing and making it into something really interesting. I am sure webmasters will now have to look into a professional website design.

  58. Mark says:

    I am surprised that Google are (if they are) going to implement this. surly from a business perspective they are going to lose out all round. Their CTR on Google text ads will fall off and they will also lose out from the spammy sites created just for Adsense revenue, because people won’t visit them. If this does go live I don’t expect it to last when Google see if affecting turnover!!

    Great post btw Patrick!

  59. Heuu … What news ! I wonder how it will impact on the sponsored links on the right and traffic in general !

  60. Google trailing in Bing’s wake again I see. Nice going Google ;-)

  61. [...] search professional Patrick Altoft wrote a blog post saying that Google was testing full page previews in search results. I tried to corroborate his story with a U.S.-based report, hopefully from one of the many top-tier [...]

  62. [...] Google starts showing full page previews in search results Blogstorm: Google is today testing a major new layout to their search results – full page previews of the target site and blue backgrounds behind the search results when you hover over them. [...]

  63. erge says:

    this is great and i hope this will eliminate a major part of spammy crap sites of the internet which are polluting searchresults!!!!!
    and honestly who needs thousands of visits with a bounce rate of 98% ?????
    i am fed up of time wasters!!!

  64. [...] you have finished reading that skip over to BlogStorm and take a look at the next generation of “Free” and take a look at Google’s new [...]

  65. David says:

    I’m seeing the previews here on Safari.

    @Princess dress – great point. The preview obscures PPC ads on the right!

  66. Lingoway says:

    its great. The snippet of a website will incite a visitor to click on the listing in SERPs.

  67. Stephen Webb says:

    Google seem to be bringing out a series of changes to their results layouts recently, most notably the instant results as you search. Whilst this isn’t quite as revolutionary it still is a departure from the standard layout that we all know.

    Small refinements such as this make a big difference to usability, of which Google is great at. The fact that multiple results are being shown for the same sites without indenting might make a small impact initially, and is an intriguing development as to why Google has chosen to take away this feature.

  68. Jay says:

    Ask.com had this feature on their serp for several years. They took it down, because it didn’t bring value to users.
    Wonder if Google will be the difference.

  69. [...] as already reported in other industry blogs, Google has started testing a new website preview feature in its SERP’s. Much like the emergence [...]

  70. Dave says:

    Yes very interesting i must say!

  71. Joseph says:

    Very interesting will be looking out for this one.

  72. [...] I read an article about how Google will start (sometime soon) to give searchers a preview of the site they are about [...]

  73. Mark says:

    Too many comments to read, but is this feature coming back? I noticed it the other day too, but can’t seem to get it back now (quite liked it personally).

  74. Max says:

    Saw page previews today on Google. http://www.kozlenko.info/blog/2010/11/02/google-search-shows-page-previews-in-search-results/

    Do whey display it only to selected users?

  75. [...] Altoft at BlogStorm spotted the test, providing the screenshot below and saying, "One of the fascinating things about this is that they [...]

  76. Can be blogengine greater than blogger in some way? Must be because it’s becoming more popluar lately.

  77. Chris Donner says:

    Hmm, this would overlap the google adword-links on the right side.

  78. [...] si detinatorii de site-uri, al caror profit din reclame s-ar putea injumatati.sursa imagine: blogstorm.co.uk Posted in bloging « Noul soft UEFI Promovare site offline » You can leave a [...]

  79. george says:

    yes this is a wonderful feature.. now can someone please tell me how to turn it off?

  80. d’ou l’importance d’avoir un beau design

  81. ‘Un beau design’ indeed; looks like SEO will now include optimising for previews, such as huge page headings and an eye-catching design. And CTR will plummet!

    Of course, I’m not sure people will actually use this feature, seeing as clicking on the link and seeing a full-size version takes just as long as squinting at the preview.

  82. Farid says:

    Does seem like a bit of plaigarism on googles part as I do believe Bing had done this one first !

  83. Hit Search says:

    Anyone seeing difference caching speed for preview pictures? Specifically in the last week?

  84. [...] Altoft at BlogStorm spotted the test, providing the screenshot below and saying, "One of the fascinating things about this is that [...]

  85. This is pretty useful and useless at the same time, it also means that webmasters creating unattractive looking sites will have their work cut out as whos more less likely to click on a site that looks badly designed? The search previews will cut out the time consumed on naff looking websites.

  86. sarafiel says:

    Excellent. Maybe web designers will start being appreciated once again instead of being left on the shelf in favour of ‘build your own’ sitebuilders etc.

  87. eTipsLibrary says:

    i think with all these enhancements Google is loosing its simplicity. Google is best because of quality, speed and simplicity.

  88. ricky says:

    Yes I agree with the above comment. Google was so strong because of its simple approach. Whether this will make things a bit too busy on the page is yet to be seen.

  89. Pretty good addition, users will have a look at a website before they look at it and cut out all of the rubbish out there.

  90. I’m not so sure about this. I agree with some of the comments that Google has been so great because of it’s simplicity, i wonder how much of an effect this has had on CTR for individual sites, assuming people use the preview that is.

  91. Josh says:

    Well, it’s now been over six months since this was introduced and I don’t find myself ever actually clicking on the little magnifying glass. Unless I’m alone in thinking this, it’s a bit of a mystery why the feature was added?

    I can’t imagine many people click on either the icon, or the actual result, before hitting the title link to the page.

    Josh

  92. blingking says:

    Click the image below for a full size version This shows that they have the technology to know exactly where a piece of text is on every single web page The snippets highlighted are not always the same as the snippet in the search results You can click anywhere on the preview to take you directly to the site Click the image below for a full size version. This shows that they have the technology to know exactly where a piece of text is on every single web page. The snippets highlighted are not always the same as the snippet in the search results. You can click anywhere on the preview to take you directly to the site. This change follows a similar one they did in August Google to start showing more results from one particular site when users entered a brand related query. People will want to know how this affects them and what the best strategies are. Users will be able to get a glimpse of a site that is designed for them and not Google. This should hopefully even things out a bit. Definately a step in the right direction. Google had this over a year ago it just was not real time plus you could say bing stole it from addons. So we could have enough proof that Google is doing such stuff. It therefore seems as if there should be a button to allow users the opportunity to expand the results if desired or continue with the current results until they have honed in on something they might wantto see more of.com when logged in and using Chrome. Works on most searches at the moment. If a class action lawsuit is in the works let me know so I can get involved. Well timed as you tend to send them as I return from lunch making for some easy reading. Google must be testing it in limited data centers. Design of the site in the preview will have a direct effect on clickthrough. This is only taking the Idea from Bing and making it into something really interesting. I am sure webmasters will now have to look into a professional website design. surly from a business perspective they are going to lose out all round. The snippet of a website will incite a visitor to click on the listing in SERPs.com had this feature on their serp for several years. Google was so strong because of its simple approach. Whether this will make things a bit too busy on the page is yet to be seen. This change follows a similar one they did in August Google to start showing more results from one particular site when users entered a brand related query People will want to know how this affects them and what the best strategies are Users will be able to get a glimpse of a site that is designed for them and not Google This should hopefully even things out a bit Definately a step in the right direction Google had this over a year ago it just was not real time plus you could say bing stole it from addons So we could have enough proof that Google is doing such stuff It therefore seems as if there should be a button to allow users the opportunity to expand the results if desired or continue with the current results until they have honed in on something they might wantto see more ofcom when logged in and using Chrome Works on most searches at the moment If a class action lawsuit is in the works let me know so I can get involved Well timed as you tend to send them as I return from lunch making for some easy reading Google must be testing it in limited data centers Design of the site in the preview will have a direct effect on clickthrough This is only taking the Idea from Bing and making it into something really interesting I am sure webmasters will now have to look into a professional website design surly from a business perspective they are going to lose out all round The snippet of a website will incite a visitor to click on the listing in SERPscom had this feature on their serp for several years Google was so strong because of its simple approach Whether this will make things a bit too busy on the page is yet to be seen

  93. anju says:

    hello, yes i like the preview wh is showing by google but i am facing the problem in my preview its not showing proper can u tell me please whats the reason behind it…why googleis not showing my website preview in proper layout.

    thank you

  94. Gloyns says:

    Has anybody completed any tests on what metrics Google may use to determine the snippet text?

    I feel its just going to be the most relevant section of content on the page, but not conducting any research yet.

  95. Have their been any studies on the CTR for this? Would be interesting to see the effect it might have had for some sites

  96. What impact do you think this will have on click through rate from googles search listings?

  97. i think with all these new features and added enhancements that Google is doing to it’s search engine, it is losing how google used to function with the quality of the results, speed and simplicity. adding all these new features might be cool and awesome to use, but to the general public…. it might force them to use BING (LOL)
    Thanks for posting!
    Danny

  98. Printing says:

    I’m concerned about the impact of CTR here as a result of a preview.

  99. Well looks like google is leading the way for the other Search Engines as usual. Not really sure how this would really help.

  100. I find the preview really annoying when browsing search results, I’m not sure how many people will actually use this feature.

  101. I think this will just clog up the search results. Google are renowned for minimalism but this will look awful in my opinion.

  102. Akash Kumar says:

    The full page reviews are proving out to be very useful for us. Atleast it gives us the idea about the page. We can ignore the most irrelevant pages by seeing the preview.

  103. Thanks for posting this article. I’m decidedly frustrated with struggling to search out pertinent and intelligent commentary on this issue.

  104. This is probably the one area where yahoo/bing may win over google. I find it annoying when trawling through search results and accidentally hovering over the preview button!

  105. Hi. I am using Goolge all the time, but I don’t like the preview option. It bothers me when I am surfing the serp’s. I cannot understand why google did this. The preview is not readible at all, you can only see if the design is somewhat professional.

    I was looking on the web if I could turn off this feature, but no luck.

    Any ideas?

    Dennis

  106. I love these instant previews, as a web designer, it makes looking for nicely designed websites really easy!
    Also helps weed out the spammy sites!

  107. I must say this does annoy me. What happened to good old fashioned optimisation of your title and description tags to entice the click?

  108. Warren says:

    Very happy with this change when it happened. Makes web developers work harder and it makes it harder for people who create sites like youtude.com or something to trick less experienced google users to their sites. If you look at it from a more normal business point of view. Google sells search results, now they display them for your visually (not just a link) before you purchase (click).

    Warren

  109. I think it’s a pretty handy feature to have a preview of the site you are about to visit, but site designers are going to have to try and pre-empt the text element that Google decides to highlight.

  110. I read an article on a teenager who has created an app called Sumly which now summarises search results and displays content as opposed to a snapshot of the search result, i wonder how this will effect googles preview.

  111. I really dislike this feature, it needs improving.

  112. Ankit Pandey says:

    Yes, its global now, and I find it very useful as I can see the full page instantly before visiting the site, it saves my time :)

  113. Sagar says:

    This is really cool and saves a lot of time, another great feature by Google. :)

  114. Social SEO says:

    I don’t think if this is going to get any success with Google. Google is changing its search technology every now and then with new and added feature. Before people gets used to to the old one it introduces new one.

  115. seo says:

    I really don’t like this feature. If anything it’s annoying when i’m scanning through pages of results. I accidentally hover over the preview icon and up pops the huge page preview! Can this be disabled as part of your account settings within Google?

  116. viagra says:

    Am starting to hate google more! Freaking SE do your work dont give me this previews !

  117. plant feed says:

    Ahh yes the annoying previews, the sooner Google remove these the better! Seems others here feel the same.

  118. Pokie says:

    I wonder if anybody uses this feature at all. I am not sure about instant search either. It is true that conclusions need to be drawn on the mass experience but still I have doubts on that.

  119. assurances says:

    That’s very useful to show cache’s pages

  120. Hi, I completely agree with you.

  121. DroidGuy says:

    Probably he could be wrap the browser as full screen, or its plugin? cause still its off out the page.

  122. I can’t help but feel that this will reduce CTR to some sites.

  123. aditya bajaj says:

    I feel so left behind with these updates. It’s more than 2.5 years now and i am seeing this today.

  124. riyan says:

    i think this Article so help us.. Riyan

Leave a Reply