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November 9, 2010

Google Instant Previews

One of the most popular features available in web search add-ons is showing thumbnails next to search results. Google added this feature last year, but you need to click on "page previews" in the sidebar to enable it.

Google found some clever ways to make thumbnails more useful and more discoverable. To enable the new instant previews, click on the magnifying glass or on the snippet to see a visual preview of a search result. Google shows a large screenshot of the page and highlights the text that's included in the snippet so you can quickly find it when you visit the page. After enabling previews, you no longer have to click on the magnifying glass: Google shows the screenshots when you mouse over a search result.


Google says that visual previews are actually useful. "In our testing, we've found that people who use Instant Previews are about 5% more likely to be satisfied with the results they click. The previews provide new ways to evaluate search results, making you more likely to find what you're looking for on the pages you visit."

I'm not sure that screenshots can help you pick the most relevant search results, but they're useful if you're looking for pages that include many pictures or videos, long articles or detailed guides. Unfortunately, you might ignore a site that has a poor design, even if the content is useful.

Google Instant Previews will be rolled out in the coming days, but you can try it using this URL.

28 comments:

  1. Can instant previews affect traffic coming from Google to a website.

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  2. I feel like this feature would help a lot because I often find myself looking for very specific queries, and if I can see exactly what the context is before jumping, I imagine I would be about 5% more chipper.

    Kudos for forecasting this development a while back.

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  3. It says the video is private. Is that on purpose?

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  4. I agree. I don't see how a small thumbnail will help users find the most relevant search result, but it is kind of nice (I like it better than Instant). I don't know if I'll use it a lot, but I've enabled it.

    BTW, doesn't Bing have something similar to this?

    Thanks for the link Alex!

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  5. How do you disable this feature?

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  6. In Google's own words:

    "The most obvious change is that you get to the right content much faster than before because you don't have to finish typing your full search term, or even press "search."

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  7. Web surfers will surely enjoy the ability to search quicker. Instant will predict a user's search phrase and start to show results before he has even finished typing. Google says, "Even when you don't know exactly what you're looking for, predictions help guide your search.

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  8. You may also want to check out SpaceTime at http://www.spacetime.com that shows Google's search results in a stunning 3D Search visual stack giving you previews of pages that you search for in full screen.

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  9. How do we disable this so-called "feature"?

    Google should remember that we are using Google, not Bing, for a reason. We love the way Google works... well "worked" and not the way other search engines work.

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  10. Just don't click on a snippet or on a magnifying glass.

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  11. Snippets occupy most of the page. If I click somewhere I hope is blank (to clear a selection for instance), chances are I'll click a snippet. I don't like previews; they get in the way of the text. Plus these are so small you can't make out anything (except for big ads). The only way they'd be useful is if you were looking for a particular page or site you've seen before.

    These recent changes make Google feel cluttered and wasteful to me. The thing I liked about Google is it's KISS philosophy, which seems to be going down the tubes.

    So I repeat my own and others' question: How do you disable this, or at a minimum, make it require a direct click on the magnifying glass, as opposed to anywhere in the snippet?

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  12. For all IE users who wants their search provider to include instant results, go to:
    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/searchguide/en-en/default.mspx

    - And add this as your default search provider:
    http://www.google.com/webhp?esrch=instantpreviews#sclient=psy&hl=en&esrch=instantpreviews&site=webhp&q=TEST&aq=0p&aqi=g4&aql=&oq=TEST&gs_rfai=&pbx=1&fp=80a5259db401d44e

    - Click 'Add' or 'Replace'

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  13. Quite pretty :-)
    re:"How do you disable this" - Click once more to turn it back off, use the actual blank space on the left column or cross your fingers that there's a setting added here (http://www.google.com/preferences) when it gets properly released

    I don't agree that it's cluttered or wasteful - there's only a small magnifying glass icon been added clutter wise, though i agree if they start showing up without a click it would be annoying & think it would be nicest if the activation click area was only a small section around the icon

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  14. Honestly... This is just annoying. Especially for people like me who live out in the bush (I live in a small village of a few hundred people in Alaska), where even my highspeed internet isn't all that fast, and some people even have bandwidth limits.

    Just give me my results, I am a Google Fanboy, but lately they have been doing a lot of misses.

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  15. Seems the easiest way to disable this (and the instant search) is by using the secure google search option. https://www.google.com/

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  16. Google instant previews = another annoying and unusefull pop-up!!! WTF is wrong with you googlepeople?

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  17. Thanks for writing on how to "enable" Google Instant Previews. How about writing on how to "disable" it?

    Thanks kindly in advance

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  18. @Anonymous November 11, 2010 8:31 AM

    Thankyou for explaining that disabling it would be a nice ability to have.

    How about reading the previous comments and noticing they already said that.

    Also you could read any of the previous partial solutions, wait and see if it includes a setting when it comes out or even try to figure something out yourself.

    /sarc :-P

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  19. Google en-ginn-ears are forever pursuing and spending countless frivolous hours on elusive make-it-fancy objectives instead of conforming to the known, practically standard way of doing things, i.e. give users FULL persistent options for ALL UI "inventions" to TURN THEM OFF and therefore keep the user interface non-annoying, non-fancy, faster, less intrusive, less animated, less flashing, less busy and more useful.

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  20. Google PLEASE post how to disable. I don't want this automatic advertising function. It's invasive.

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  21. I find the popup on mouse over extremely annoying. Google, please remove the feature or give us a way to disable it.

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  22. This sucks, just as hard as it sucked when Ask did it

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  23. Please let us disable this. I love instant search, but will have to turn it off if I can't disable the preview.

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  24. Google once had an option once a search was done to select "more shopping sites" or "fewer shopping sites" - is this still around?? I found this very very useful. Thanks

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  25. Please, this is an annoying ask-jeeves feature that has no useful place in the world. Allow some way to permanently disable this feature, I keep getting popups when I don't want them.

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  26. what happened to "select "more shopping sites" or "fewer shopping sites" - one sure way to annoy users is to remove a feature just as they get used to using it. and google shopping is not the same, especially outside the myopic usa....

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  27. Simple way to disable this: switch to Bing. I just did - changed the default search setting on the 4 computers and 2 iphones in my home. Google's lost my trust by not developing a "disable" feature *first*.

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  28. Worst idea ever. I won't grace it with the title of "feature" since it's a curse. It pops up while I am scrolling through results to scan for relevant results. Trust me , I don't click on magnifying glass icons but instant preview still pops up. Then I have to stop reading results and find the "x" to close the preview. Then I return to scanning, being careful to keep my mouse pointer to the side of the screen to avoid triggering previews.

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