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Earlier this month, Google added a new feature to their Search experience: Google Instant Preview. The feature, explained in detail on the official Google Blog, accelerates the search process and adds a visual aspect to the SEO job description. In order to activate Instant Preview, users must click on the magnifying glass nestled within each search result. Once activated, a graphical preview flips up when the cursor hovers over any part of a search result.
Like many of Google’s enhancements to the Search process, the arrival of Instant Preview affects the SEO industry. Many web marketers were tempted to dismiss Instant Preview’s SEO influences after reading that the change would not influence algorithmic SERPs. Sure, the rankings of your client won’t change, but what if your #1 ranking doesn’t appeal to users visually? Instant Preview encourages conversations and integration between SEO and Web Designers for maximum return on search engine marketing efforts.
SEO without an Algorithm
An important element to each preview returned is the text highlighted, emboldening the keywords from the search query; a golden opportunity to impress searchers and ensure a click-through. This concept is similar to well-crafted meta-descriptions: Optimized copy won’t influence the algorithmic results directly, but the right keyword usage can lead to increased traffic and visitors.
As mentioned earlier, Instant Preview adds a visual dynamic to the SEO process. How do your landing pages appear in Google’s preview? It’s important to note that Previews do not include Flash graphics. As you can see in the example with a search for “YouTube”, pages loaded with Flash are unappealing and may cost you visitors.
The wall between the Search Optimization Department and Web Designers is slowly crumbling due to changes like Instant Preview. With so much of search decision-making fueled by the look and feel of a site, SEO has a voice in webpage design, at least when forming landing pages.
Changes in Web Marketing
The introduction of Instant Preview is the latest in a long line of Google efforts to organize the way the internet works. If you want traffic, you have to play their game. Instant Preview brings sweeping changes to those sites hoping to profit off pop-ups or windowless Flash Ads. The Google Webmaster Blog explains:
Try to avoid interstitial pages, ad pop-ups, or other elements that interfere with your content. In some cases, these distracting elements may be picked up in the preview of your page, making the screenshots less attractive.
Additionally, Google is picking up valuable seconds in terms of Average Time on Site, and in the process, building trust in the Google search process. Instant Preview affords users the ability to quickly interact with a page and determine its usefulness while never leaving the safe haven of Google’s search results; a notion that contributes to overall brand loyalty to the search giant. Tricky? Maybe. Smart? Absolutely.
The arrival of Instant Preview is merely another example of the constant evolution that is SEO. Interpreting Google’s signals and actions is an exciting aspect of SEO that will never end.