Google Instant Previews


How much time do you waste by “pogosticking” during your Google searches? If you’ve never heard that term before, it refers to selecting a link on the search results, not liking what you see, and then going back to the search results to start over. The dizzying back and forth procedure is enough to frustrate the most dedicated researcher. To solve this problem, Google has developed an Instant Preview feature that allows users to take a peak at the web page without leaving the search results. By providing a hint of what the full page contains, you have a better chance of choosing the site that contains that elusive bit of information that you were searching for.

Google Instant Preview

How Does It Work?

Unless the owner of the website opts out of the process by setting the nosnippets meta tag, a tiny magnifying glass icon displays beside the link on the results page. When the icon is clicked, a page preview is viewable on the right side of the screen. By using the down arrow, you can quickly scan through the preview pages for each site on the results page. To surpass Bing’s preview feature, Google provides an image of the page as well as extracted text. For easy scanning, the search criterion is highlighted in “callouts”, and “tears” show the parts that relate to your search or the overall theme of the page.

User Satisfaction

Google loves statistics, and true to its nature, it has measured the anticipated increase in user satisfaction that the Instant Preview feature will create. After the launch, Google users will be exactly 5% more satisfied with their favorite search engine. Some naysayers are concerned that this feature will slow down the search process, but it is virtually guaranteed to make the decision making and research process faster. Google reports that the previews are dynamically generated so that they will always be up-to-date as content changes and that it only takes 1/10th of a second for this process to complete.

Traffic Impacts

There’s a mix of opinions in the website community about Instant Previews. On one side, owners of well-designed sites with meaningful content feel that this feature will allow users to see the value that they offer, almost like an advertisement, and more traffic will visit their pages as users avoid junk and spam sites. Of course, owners of sites that add little value are beginning to realize that they may have some work to do if their page rankings and traffic begin to drop. This may be the one Google feature that forces the Internet to rise to the next level.

Dan Petrovic is a well-known Australian SEO and a managing director of Dejan SEO. He has published numerous research articles in the field of search engine optimisation and online marketing. Dan's work is highly regarded by the world-wide SEO community and featured on some of the most reputable websites in the industry.

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