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Beyond Instant Results: Instant Previews - officially announced

 3:40 pm on Nov 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Instant Previews provides a graphic overview of a search result and highlights the most relevant sections, making finding the right page as quick and easy as flipping through a magazine. To use it, click once on the magnifying glass next to the title of any search result and a visual overview of the page will appear on the right.


You can test it here:



 6:26 pm on Nov 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

What about 100% Flash sites? No preview?


 6:28 pm on Nov 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well, just discovered:

<meta name="googlebot" content="nosnippet"> - this will remove your site from previews.


 7:20 pm on Nov 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you put this tag the preview will be loading for some time and say "NO preview available" The visitor might think it's a blank page and move on... Just a thought


 9:07 pm on Nov 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah I am not sure blocking the preview will be a good thing. I'm holding off on a decision on this until it is completely released. I don't think we have enough data at this point?


 10:42 pm on Nov 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

@urfin_juice - read the tag: NOSNIPPET. Removing Preview is a by-product - you will have neither snippet nor preview.


 4:25 pm on Nov 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

I must be missing something, because I don't see the SEO disaster here that so many others seem to be seeing. I do however, see a lot of opportunity to beat out our competition in a few small ways.


 4:31 pm on Nov 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm still not seeing the magnifying glass icon here on either Google.com or Google.ca. Anyone have a link?


 7:31 pm on Nov 13, 2010 (gmt 0)


To me it's on by default by now except when browsing with IE and Opera. The testlink I posted in my opening post doesn't seem to do the trick anymore.


 10:05 pm on Nov 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've used firefox, seamonkey and IE and don't see it. Strange.....


 4:02 am on Nov 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

@Lovejoy, amazing.You probably must be the only person on earth who isn't seeing it :)

But note that it is on google.com and not on all google tlds.But we may expect it anytime on all other remaining tlds.

Have you people noticed that google is now popping up previews, even if you don't click the preview button.They do that randomly (not always) and i could see the previews when i hover the results.


 4:17 am on Nov 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I find it both unobtrusive and helpful. The user must click on the magnifying glass to opt in to see this functionality. Even then, when you hover over the Preview (which you turned on with a click) it temporarily vanishes so you can easily get back to the Adwords if you want.

It's not working in Opera for me, but then again, neither is Instant, so it's not a surprise.


 4:00 pm on Nov 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've checked it on Google.com and the magnifying glass icon is not showing, nor am I seeing any pop up previews of any sort. Maybe I should consider myself fortunate that Google has personally chosen to prevent me from being exposed to such odious waste of my time ;~)


 5:35 pm on Nov 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Something worth noting if you have seen increased visits or visitor counts since Google Preview launched. The user agent for the previews behaves like a "real" user rather than a bot, and may therefore be firing off your analytics. That means that if users are previewing your pages, you may find artificial inflation in your metrics.

If you are not sure whether this might be happening to you, check out the browser split in your analytics package. If you see a substantial spike in traffic from Safari, either unknown version or version 3.1, then I'm afraid that your recent traffic improvements may be illusory.


 8:21 pm on Nov 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Has Google released the stats on what percentage of people use Instant Preview?


 11:41 pm on Nov 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

I found an article recently saying that this emphasis on places was the start of the demise of google. Now we have this preview thing and ... Google is not google anymore. Sure the results are somewhat the same, but places already changed it in a small way. Google used to be the minimalist search engine. The Home Page had a logo, a search box and an "i'm feeling lucky" button. Would Google 2010 add the I'm feeling lucky button? No way, when visitors click that, they can't click on adwords from a page of SERPs. See where i'm going?

Now with this preview people here are saying they want to block it . Why? that's like going on a dating site with no photo. You'll get ten times fewer clicks.

Assuming everybody has the preview, what happens? Well, looking at results from one website that has many number 1 SERPs, the 1st position in google will get 50-100% (yes 100%) of keyword/key phrase searchers to click on it (Depending on how relevant title and snippet is). The 10th result will get approximately 3-10% so pre-preview the top 5 positions were worth 4-10 times more than the bottom three or four. Now with this preview, you don't have to click number one, and you won't. How many of you just looked at one preview? I didn't, i looked at at least the first five. Now the every position below number one has a better chance of being clicked. And the key factor will be the visual presentation of your preview thumbnail

Personaly I don't like the new bloated google, but I like even less my dependence on google for my websites that get 70% or more of their traffic from it.

Thank you google for ensuring that positions 5-10 as well as other search engines will get more exposure and/or a second look


 12:36 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've had this since October 18th. It's very helpful when I'm looking for a site that I know I've visited before but can't remember the name.


 12:48 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Now with this preview people here are saying they want to block it. Why?

Probably because they see it as another Google encroachment on their copyright.

like going on a dating site with no photo

Enrolling on a dating site is voluntary.

Webmasters can opt out of Google's index and cache but they have to be proactive.

Opting out of Google Web Preview apparently results in losing the customary text snippet.

You'll get ten times fewer clicks

And the initial previews are apparently made by the regular Googlebot anyway:

Many pages have their previews generated as part of our regular crawl process. Occasionally, we will generate screenshots on the fly when a user needs it, and in these situations we will retrieve information from web pages using a new "Google Web Preview" user-agent

(quoted from [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com...] Official Google Webmaster Central Blog)

So there is no opt-out, really.

Just "an offer you can't refuse".



 9:06 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Probably because they see it as another Google encroachment on their copyright.
So there is no opt-out, really.
Just "an offer you can't refuse".

It's easy to keep google off your site, but I suppose most people would prefer not too. I think the previews could result in a dramatic change in the way the web looks as people try to sculpt their preview. I wonder what role robots.txt would play? If you block the webpreview user-agent you lose the snippet too? or is there some other way to block it? Another thought, if you prevent spidering of your image directories then maybe you will get a text only preview.


 9:34 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

my problem is a usability one. i am used to scrolling with the mouse wheel then clicking once on the screen to activate where i want to scroll. every time i click the preview pops up. very annoying. i've just done a quick search and i am by no means the only person who has this habit.

i completely understand the point about helping recognise a site after forgetting it's name - that's a good one. but for me personally, it's annoying and time-wasting.

luckily there's a js script you can install to stop them showing, but for advanced users, google should really allow turn on/off.


 10:24 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

i think the problem at the moment is not "how to do we block them", but "how do we UNblock them"

lots of people will block bots from crawling image and javascript directories, but do we need to let the preview bot crawl those? some preview images seem to include images and some dont. not sure whether it obeys robots.txt or not.

it would be much better if they would just give us the string so we could allow the preview bot to crawl those directories.


 10:47 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Whether or not you get the little star (for?) and magnifying glass icons (for preview) also seems to be browser dependent. On Firefox 3.6.1 I have that feature. On Firefox 2.0 it doesn't display.


 10:54 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

From my experienced as a user, after mistakingly clicking anywhere on the screen, I find myself using the sliding bar to avoid the previews poping up (previews poops?).

As a webmaster, the benefit of this "enhancement" remains to be seen, but as a user I defenetly want to see an opt in option,so I can avoid it, and not an opt out (closing the pop up, everytime I click on the screen and hover -unintentionally- over the results).

Please, G. present us the results but let us decide how we want to interact with them. This is far too much "in your face" for me!


 12:28 pm on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sure is a good way to weed out lousy sites, or ones that throw nothing but ad sense blocks above the fold. Saves time for sure! I'm also one that does not go for pages with all text, or pages with no headings. I want some pics!


 12:28 pm on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

According to reports, the previews:

* Are often out of date
* Often do not load images
* Often do not load stylesheets
* Cannot display Flash
* Affect analytics

The majority of previews are supposedly captured by Googlebot in normal crawling, and I have seen suggestions that robots.txt restrictions (e.g. on images) affect what is displayed - strong pressure to allow image crawling here.

The Google Web Preview user-agent is reportedly only used when no prior preview is available, and creates the preview on the fly. This bot does not actually crawl and does not read robots.txt restrictions, so will take images even if they are blocked to Googlebot.

As we use normal crawling to create these previews (on-the-fly accessing is only used for cases where we don't have recent, complete data from crawling), over time the accesses will be mostly limited to the normal crawling activity.

Google's John Mueller 16 November 2010



 4:25 pm on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

You all should realise that the next phase of this implementaion will be change the icon to a magnifier when a user hovers over a preview which will then display magnified snippets straight from the site without a visit.


 7:03 pm on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Strange -- I only get the magnifying glass if I search from the Google web page, not if I search from the Google toolbar.


 10:06 pm on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Firefox + NoScript add-on - Block Google.com/co.uk/etc. Works for me as a user! :)

As a webmaster of several sites running my own server, it's a potential disaster! :(


 10:28 pm on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Wonder if this preview bot thing is something Goggle is "offering" to get at data we webmasters have denied them by saying "the user asked for it, so we took a look...for the user...since we don't have it on hand..." thus forcing webmasters who want to appear in the serps to allow google everything (we don't want to give them).

Nah... :)

Donning rumpled tinfoil hat


 11:22 pm on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'd believe it. In fact I think it's quite likely. :(

Robert Charlton

 10:39 pm on Nov 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

I haven't seen the Google Instant Previews FAQ posted on this thread. It might answer a few questions...

FAQ: Instant Previews - Google Webmaster Help
http://sites.google.com/site/webmasterhelpforum/en/faq-instant-previews [sites.google.com]


 11:24 pm on Nov 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

You all should realise that the next phase of this implementaion will be change the icon to a magnifier when a user hovers over a preview which will then display magnified snippets straight from the site without a visit.

Is there a source for this?

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