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.