One of the most popular features available in web search add-ons is showing thumbnails next to search results. Google added this feature last year, but you need to click on “page previews” in the sidebar to enable it.
Google found some clever ways to make thumbnails more useful and more discoverable. To enable the new instant previews, click on the magnifying glass or on the snippet to see a visual preview of a search result. Google shows a large screenshot of the page and highlights the text that’s included in the snippet so you can quickly find it when you visit the page. After enabling previews, you no longer have to click on the magnifying glass: Google shows the screenshots when you mouse over a search result.
Google says that visual previews are actually useful. “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.”
I’m not sure that screenshots can help you pick the most relevant search results, but they’re useful if you’re looking for pages that include many pictures or videos, long articles or detailed guides. Unfortunately, you might ignore a site that has a poor design, even if the content is useful.
Google Instant Previews will be rolled out in the coming days, but you can try it using this URL.
With Google Instant you get results as fast as you type, but your search doesn’t stop there. Once you get results back, you choose a site to visit based on the information in each result—like the title, a snippet of text and the URL. Over time we’ve made steady improvements to our search results and snippets to help you pick a great page. Now we’re making a leap to image-based snapshots—a new kind of visual search result we call “Instant Previews” which makes it even faster to choose the right result.
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. Here’s a video showing Instant Previews in action:
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.
Instant Previews can be helpful for many kinds of tasks. For example, say you looked at a page before and need to find it again—with a preview, you can tell if any of the results look familiar. Or perhaps you’re looking for an official website—look for a logo and formal style and you’ll probably be able to identify it. Or maybe you’re looking for a how-to guide—it’s easy to spot a page with clear illustrations and step-by-step instructions.
We realized early on that this kind of experience would only make sense if it was lightning fast. Not long ago simply downloading an image could take 20 or 30 seconds, and even today many websites take four or five seconds to load. With Instant Previews, we match your query with an index of the entire web, identify the relevant parts of each webpage, stitch them together and serve the resulting preview completely customized to your search—usually in under one-tenth of a second. Once you click the magnifying glass, we load previews for the other results in the background so you can flip through them without waiting.
Well, I think that’s enough of a preview—soon you can try out the real thing for yourself! The new feature is rolling out now and should be available in more than 40 languages in the next few days.
Update 6:50AM: We removed the YouTube video to update it. We’ll be back shortly.Update 4:35PM: Added updated YouTube video. Thanks for your patience!
Posted by Raj Krishnan