In the middle of last week word spread that a game changing new feature was being trialled by Google on Search Results Pages (SRP).
The new feature is a Search Preview Pop-over that appears when you click your mouse on a magnifying glass icon next to a particular search result.
A new way to review your search results
The way that Google works won't actually change; type in a few keywords, click "search" and you still get a list of blue links with black description and a green URL underneath.
What's been added is a magnifying glass icon at the end of the blue link and it's this seemingly harmless little graphic that's causing all the fuss.
When you click on this icon a Search Preview Pop-over window opens and displays a scaled down version of the web page the search result links to. In most cases you get to see the entire web page; if you have a long sales letter style landing page it will be cropped.
To make it absolutely clear (to you, the person searching) as you roll your mouse over each search result on Google's SRP the background colour will change to pale blue. To make it clear which search result you are looking at in the Preview Pop-over an indent arrow on the side of the pop-over window points to the search result.
Once you've got a Search Preview Pop-over open, Google are outlining in orange the sections of content text that it has matched on the web page with the keywords you entered for your search. Clicking anywhere on the miniaturised web page in the Search Preview Pop-over will take you to the actual website or blog.
What's in it for me?
As exciting as this new feature is within Usability circles, for Internet Marketing there are definite downsides.
The first is that the feature is not being tested on Adwords (Sponsored Links) search results at this stage and there has been no comment from Google as to whether it would roll out Search Preview Pop-overs for paid results as well as organic.
The second difficulty is that the Preview Pop-over windows are positioned so that they obscure Adwords search results in the right hand column, meaning your lovingly crafted adverts are being hidden underneath the preview.
The biggest impact will be the decline in page visits coming from Google; as Google monopolises people's attention. Here's how - while people searching no longer have a need to click through on each link in search results to explore, they instead stay on Google SRP browsing through previews.
Optimistically, this will reduce you bounce rate which could be useful... however the greater damage of decreased traffic is something to begin planning for.
Combating Search Preview Pop-overs
Whilst it's uncertain to what extent Google will implement the Search Preview Pop-over or when, it is a great reminder for us all that in the online world of business you need to be ever vigilant.
Should you be looking for ideas on how to minimise the impact of Google rolling out Search Preview Pop-overs, here are a few that are worth testing -
- Big bright coloured boxes or buttons with easy to read call to actions.
When your web pages are being miniaturised in preview you want what you have to offer to be obvious and to stand out from other graphics, text and ads on your pages.
- Text descriptions of 2 - 3 paragraphs long for your web pages with video.
The text so that there is something for organic search results and your page gets indexed. What you really want is the person to come to your page and watch the video, so create curiosity.
- Use every bit of your web page real estate and use whitespace and colour to separate out sections of your page.
When you can view the entire web page in preview the concept of keeping things "above the fold" becomes irrelevant. By using whitespace and colour as visual cues you help visitors go straight to the bit of your page that caught their eye in preview.
- Outline the important bits of your web page yourself in orange.
There won't be the fancy magnifying feature on it in preview, however you get the opportunity to highlight what's important in a way that matches what Google will be doing.
Ideas to protect your traffic
If you have a heavy reliance on Google for traffic, then now is the time to do something about getting some other traffic sources.
In particular, Social Media Marketing using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Squidoo are becoming easier to manage as new software tools and budget-aware outsourcing options enter the market.
Feel overwhelmed at the thought? Pick one and see what happens... or phone and arrange a free 30 minute consultation to discover what will work for you and which tools to use.