Yes­ter­day, Google launched it’s newest enhance­ment to the search results page: Instant Pre­views.  The idea of a web­site pre­view has been around for some time – Brows­er plu­g­ins like Cool­Pre­views and Search­Pre­view have been down­loaded by mil­lions of users.  With this launch, all Google Instant users will be able to view pre­views of search results pages with­out a plugin.

Google Instant Pre­views allows users to see Google’s cached ver­sion of a web­site with­out leav­ing the search results page.  The look and feel of a page is more impor­tant than ever at entic­ing users to click.  When a user clicks on the mag­ni­fy­ing glass icon Magnifying Glass next to a search result, an over­lay will appear with pre­view of the page.  Once the mag­ni­fy­ing glass is clicked, the user can hov­er over the oth­er search results to scroll between previews.

How will Instant Previews impact websites?

Diet Coke Instant PreviewInstant Pre­views will increase the impor­tance of web design and usabil­i­ty and should decrease the num­ber of clicks going to low­er qual­i­ty sites, door­way pages and sites pray­ing on mis­spellings.  As an agency that opti­mizes both HTML and Flash web­sites, we believe Instant Pre­views has raised the impor­tance of opti­miz­ing Flash web­sites yet again. As seen in this exam­ple of the Google Instant Pre­view for Diet Coke, the lack of alter­nate con­tent for users with­out Flash ren­ders a pre­view that is less than entic­ing and may decrease click through rates and traf­fic to Coke’s website.

We con­tin­ue to impress upon the inter­ac­tive com­mu­ni­ty the impor­tance of focus­ing on SEO in com­bi­na­tion with page design and usabil­i­ty in order to cre­ate clean, use­ful and appeal­ing sites that rank high in search engines and entice users to click. Accord­ing to Google, peo­ple apply­ing Instant Pre­views are 5% more like­ly to be sat­is­fied with the results on which they clicked. The con­cept of pre­view­ing web­sites is far from new, but when the world’s largest search engine decides to add a visu­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a page to the search results page, web­site own­ers must take action.  Google con­tin­ues to lead the way towards increas­ing the “expe­ri­ence of search”. In a week where IAC’s Bar­ry Diller announced Ask.com is sur­ren­der­ing to Google, the Google Instant Pre­views launch high­lights the chal­lenges with com­pet­ing with the most sophis­ti­cat­ed search engine in the world. From the June Caf­feine update to the intro­duc­tion of Google Instant in Sep­tem­ber to yesterday’s newest addi­tion of Instant Pre­views, Google has made 2010 a remark­able year in search advancements.