On the Web: A Preview of Google Instant Previews: Is it a Game Changer?
Google unveiled its newest search enhancement, Google Instant Previews (GIP), in November. Denoted by a small magnifying glass to the right of a search listing, GIP allows searchers to look at a mini version (also called a snippet) of a specific web page before they commit to clicking on it. Is this a game changer? Not exactly, but it certainly does make things interesting.
Users make decisions about your website in less than a second. Their entire decision is based on visual clues of the first view they see. (Consultants can debate whether users will scroll until the cows come home, but the fact is, while they'll scroll, 80 percent — technically about 76 percent — of their time is spent on the first view they see.)
GIP changes that dynamic. When users click on the magnifying glass, they're shown a complete page — not a view, but the entire page. This puts a lot of pressure on your page design. Just think of all the companies that use a full screen at the bottom of their web pages for search engine (SPAM) copy, for example. Not aesthetically pleasing in the least, but innocuous at best because people won't scroll that far, right? Well, now that big chunk of copy, without pictures, will be seen in your instant preview.
Will searchers actually use GIP? It's too early to say, but the folks at Google are hoping so. In fact, it's touting that users who are taking advantage of instant previews are 5 percent more satisfied with their search results. (That's not a great stat, by the way, as it hasn't been rolled out to all shoppers yet.) Plus, if you're searching from a smartphone, the whole preview thing isn't really applicable. With that said, if it does work, it should prevent pogosticking. (Search engine guru Danny Sullivan defines pogosticking as when "someone clicks from a search engine results page and then, if unsatisfied, clicks to select another result and so on.") Pogosticking is very big, especially with e-commerce sites.