I’m normally not one to jump all over a Google announcement (really? they changed the algorithm again?!?) but when G makes dramatic updates to the search results pages, I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring you up to speed.
Yesterday, Google released “Instant Previews” on their search results pages. Like Ask.com and Bing, searchers can now hover over a magnifying glass icon to pop up a preview window of the destination URL. According to Google, this helps searchers find better answers to their queries more quickly.
According to a MediaPost article:
During tests, Google found that people who use Instant Previews are 5% more likely to like the results they click. The previews provide new ways to evaluate search results, making you more likely to find what the searcher seeks before visiting the page.
The problem with previews
First impressions are hard enough to get right when somebody clicks through to your site. But what if your Instant Preview is broken or portrays your site in a “less than useful” way?
Look at this example from CarMax.com for the search term “used cars”:
The preview shows the site’s 404 error page. That’s not helpful!
Full disclosure: I managed SEO in-house for CarMax.com years ago and have alerted them to this problem.
Check yourself frequently
What does your site’s instant preview say about your site? Does it welcome users or turn them away? Are your logos, color schemes and layouts displaying properly?
If it’s not the first impression you’d like to be making, your site design may need some sprucing up. If your Instant Preview shows the wrong page or an error page, pick up the red phone and call in the experts immediately! It’s likely not Google’s fault, so do whatever it takes to put your best foot forward and give searchers and prospective customers what they are looking for.