When I broke the news that Google was showing full page previews in the search results most people thought it was an interesting test. I doubt many of the 25,000 people who read that post actually thought it would become a real feature.
Today Google has announced that previews will be rolling out across 40 countries in the next few days.
Instant Previews provides a graphic overview of a search result and highlights the most relevant sections, making finding the right page as quick and easy as flipping through a magazine. To use it, click once on the magnifying glass next to the title of any search result and a visual overview of the page will appear on the right. From there, hover your cursor over any other result to see a preview. For those of you who’ve recently stopped using your mouse to search, now you can navigate to a result, hit the right arrow key to see the preview, and hit the down arrow key to keep browsing.
In our testing, we’ve found that people who use Instant Previews are about 5% more likely to be satisfied with the results they click. The previews provide new ways to evaluate search results, making you more likely to find what you’re looking for on the pages you visit. Here are some of the things you can do to get the most out of Instant Previews:
- Quickly compare results – A visual comparison of search results helps you pick the one that’s right for you. Quickly flip through previews to see which page looks best.
- Pinpoint relevant content – Text call outs, in orange, will sometimes highlight where your search terms appear on the webpage so you can evaluate if it’s what you’re looking for.
- Interact with the results page – Page previews let you see the layout of a webpage before clicking the search result. Looking for a chart, picture, map or list? See if you can spot one in the preview.
This is great for sites that are well designed and have a layout that suits the preview image sizes. It’s not so great for any brand that uses Flash without images to fall back on or geotargeting without overriding the IP delivery for search engines.
Click this search for an example of how Flash looks.