In a move which some claim is an attempt to catch up with Microsoft’s Bing search engine, Google has just rolled out testing on their new feature, Google Instant Preview.

The instant preview allows you to see a snapshot of the page that each search result points to. All you need to do is click once on the small magnifying glass that now appears alongside search results, and it’ll load a preview of the page on the right hand side of your search results.

If you’re searching for a specific term, it’ll even highlight where on the page your search query appears.

Once you’ve turned on the preview, hovering your cursor over any result will load the preview. To turn it off, you just need to click on the magnifying glass again, and it’ll stop loading previews.

Improving Search Accuracy

In a post on the official Google blog, Google product manager Raj Krishnan explained that this gives users a new way to evaluate search results.

No longer will you have to click on a page to see what it looks like, or what its content is like, only to have to click back to the search results page.

“In our testing, we’ve found that people who use Instant Previews are about five percent more likely to be satisfied with the results they click,” he said. “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 customised to your search and usually in under one-tenth of a second.”

Advantages of Instant Preview

This new feature allows users to quickly compare the different pages that are returned in a search, and even to spot relevant content thanks to the text call-outs that will highlight your searched terms where they appear in the text of the page you’re previewing.

This makes design an even more important factor, since people will see your design even before they can try and see if your content is relevant.

All the results previews are loaded at the same time, so once the first preview appears, you won’t have any wait time when running your mouse over the other results. Those previews will load immediately.

We Think…

We think this is a great little feature. We have no doubt that it’s going to get web designers and marketers scrambling, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’ve always said that site design was a critical factor in attracting visitors, and that’s as true now as it ever was.

It’s just that now, people will be able to see your design without even having to enter your site. So bad, confused, or just unclear design will have an even bigger impact. The answer? Design your site with your visitors in mind, and make sure it’s easy for them to find the information they’re searching for.