Google is testing a new way of displaying mobile search results by displaying images alongside sitelinks.
This test was revealed in a report by CNBC which takes a deep dive into how Google Search works.
As it specifically relates to this test, the report states:
“In the meeting that CNBC observed, the team had tested a new format for mobile searches that would display a photo from a webpage alongside its link. The hypothesis was that images like the one below would help users better determine which link would get them to the page most relevant to what they were looking for.”
The larger image thumbnail in the search snippet is not new, as Google has been displaying those in mobile search results for at least the past couple of years.
What we’ve not seen before are images next to sitelinks at the bottom of the snippet.
I couldn’t replicate this feature, which would indicate it’s still in testing.
CNBC’s report goes on to state that the screenshot above was provided as an example of changes Google’s quality raters are asked to evaluate.
In this case, Google’s quality raters are asked if they believe the addition of images next to sitelinks helped them understand the results.
According to data collected so far, quality raters found the images to be useful 91 percent of the time.
Given that the images are considered more useful than not, it sounds like this is a change that may end up getting rolled out more widely.
Google tells CNBC that real users are also exposed to these tests, in addition to quality raters, but wouldn’t reveal how many queries it showed each group.