Top 6 Best Practices for Google Instant Previews

Google Instant Preview Best Practices

Google Instant Preview Best Practices

As you have probably already noticed, Google Instant Preview was recently launched and is currently showing visual previews to the right of search results listings. This appears as a magnifying glass icon that, when clicked, enables a popover with a thumbnail of what the linked site looks like. In addition to the thumbnail, in some cases Google also includes an orange box or boxes that highlight important and relevant content according to the users’ original query.

This will allow sites to show off a preview the design of the site and how the content is presented before users even click through. This can have both positive and negative affect depending on users’ reactions to the preview. Google has stated that this new feature make searchers 5% more likely to be satisfied with the results they click. Obviously this is a win for them because they are constantly looking for ways to make their results more relevant to users’ intention, however for site owners it is important have this feature be a force for positive change and not negative.

It is important to ensure that Google is able to take a valid representation screenshot for use in their instant preview thumbnail, and that the site looks clean without errors or content gaps since these sorts of things may deter users from clicking through.

Here are a few things to keep in order to take advantage of Google Instant Previews:

  1. Keep your pages laid out in a structured and clear manner with an emphasis on the main content without overwhelming distractions. Cluttered sites will be apparent view the preview and may deter users.
  2. Avoid interstitial pages, ad pop-ups, or modal windows that load automatically since these interfere with your page content and may show up in the preview image.
  3. Previews are generally created during the normal crawl process, however there is also the ability for Google to do a specific crawl using their new “Google Web Preview” user-agent.
  4. Instant Preview does not affect the ranking algorithm or how clicks are tracked. Preview does not count as a click.
  5. Adding the nosnippet meta tag to your site will disable Instant Preview as well as all other text snippet features.
  6. Some Flash and video content is currently appearing as a puzzle piece icon or a black box, but Google has stated they are working to resolve this rendering issue.

An example of poorly executed Instant Preview experience is represented by websites that use hero images controlled by JavaScript and executed after the static content loads.  In short, Google is capturing the screengrab BEFORE this contents loads.  Ideally, these areas should be built in static HTML which then can be manipulated by dynamically loading the additional states afterwards.   The other option is having a static image load before being overwritten by the JavaScript functions.

What has your experience been? Do you have any work arounds for a poor Instant Preview experience? If so, leave them in the comments!

Comments are closed.