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How to Use Instant Previews to Drive More Traffic

     
10:19 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Whether you like instant previews or not is not the topic of this discussion. However, feel free to express how you feel about instant previews in the current ongoing discussion [webmasterworld.com] that is more general than this one.

I want to discuss what impact instant previews will have on traffic, who will benefit, and how we can benefit from it.

Good for lower ranked sites?
Clicking around I noticed that I ventured lower in the SERPs. Is it possible that instant previews may benefit websites that rank from position five and lower?

Page quotes and click through rates
Some sites have page quotes in a larger font bordered with an orange box. Could the right quote inspire more click throughs? How do we get Google to grab the right quote?

No snippet meta tag
The no snippet meta tag is a tag designed to keep Google from using page text in the SERPs, beneath your title tag. The use of the no-snippet meta will remove the instant preview. If currently using the no-snippet tag, is it time to consider removing it in order to test the benefit of displaying an instant preview?
9:41 pm on Nov 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I feel like I'm on drugs or something with instant preview.


Just now I did a search for 'bar code scanning software for mac'


I got intelliscan. Clicked on the link - didn't do the preview, by the way.

UP came the page, and on the bottom right were too google links to embeded text that showed specific content.

Whats up with this - has this shown up on anyone elses radar? Did I miss something?


Judy
9:56 pm on Nov 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It happened on the click-through page - so I don't see how it has anything to do with Google, but rather with the target website.
10:01 pm on Nov 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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No, it was definitely google - it had googles logo, and it had the blue highlight. I'm going to do a screen grab. I may be nuts, but it really clearly looked like a google and it was highlighting in the text and the box the words I'd used in search
10:08 pm on Nov 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Here, check it out. Tell me if I"m nuts.

[picasaweb.google.com...]
10:26 pm on Nov 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It still looks like some kind of non-Google widget to me - one that is keying off the referer string to create an ad. And that's exactly what that box is... an ad trying to draw your click.

But more than that, it looks like possibly some kind of adware installed on your computer. I've used your exact search phrase [intellisw barcod scanner for mac] and done the click in IE8 and Firefox. I don't get the pop-up.

I think your computer may be infected with adware. And then the Google little Google logo would be an illegal ripoff.
10:28 pm on Nov 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This is google stuff. Google Toolbar feature. Called either Quick Scroll or Best Match. You can turn it off in Toolbar options.
1:55 am on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Q: Can I show different content in the preview?
A: No. You must show Googlebot and the Google Web Preview the same content that users from that region would see (see our Help Center article on cloaking).


Yes, the ONLY point is that users 99% percent of the time they see a flash movie working, and Googlebot sees a "puzzle" stuff.

So what they MUST INMEDIATELY allow in their "webmaster guidelines" or "Google law" or "I am Google you suck" is to cloak just the SWF, if the human comes we serve him a good SWF, if GoogleBot Preview comes we serve it a GIF/JPG/etc... that contains a screenshot of the SWF, so our users dont see PUZZLES sh*t in our sites because of Google.
3:41 am on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@ Alvaro

While I have sympathy with your sentiments it is possible to show alternate content in the preview using swfobject and not incur Google's wrath by resorting to "cloaking".

I have seen reports of this technique not working but in my own tests it worked fine.

Hope this helps.

...
2:28 pm on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Vamm and Tedster - I suspected it was related to toolbar - but then why, do you know, does it NOT show for every site. Because I want to turn it ON for my site :)

j
5:33 pm on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Best way to test this is to put a hot chick in a bikini to see how much more traffic you get from preview :)
5:53 pm on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This is google stuff. Google Toolbar feature. Called either Quick Scroll or Best Match.

Well I'll be - I mistook a real Google feature for malware ;) Now I even remember a patent they have in this area. And, by the way, I just installed the new Google Toolbar to test this, and I still can't get it to work on this Intelliscan search. Now I don't think it has anything to do with your website.

So it is not related to the new Instant Preview feature at all - sorry for dragging this discussion off topic.
9:54 am on Nov 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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My opinion is that, the snapshot of the website being shown by Google SERPs is not worth-ed. That was the major difference in how the SERPs were shown on Google and Bing? But, now Google SERPs look more like a Bing one. This update was not at all required for Google. This would no more make Google to stand out of rest of the pack. Moreover, there is n clarity in its visibility. If your website is built totally on Flash then it will only exhibit the website content which GoogleBot was able to take a snapshot of. This is a blunder to your website. Even if your website is excellent in design once it get fully loaded, you might loose some of the traffic to the snapshot.

[edited by: tedster at 6:36 pm (utc) on Nov 26, 2010]
[edit reason] Change formating [/edit]

12:32 am on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Unfortunately, I don't understand all the technical stuff some of you have written but I very unhappy with the instant preview for my site.

Blank white areas show instead of ads, some images I feature aren't displaying at all. The home page looks like cr@p.

I spent A LOT of money the past year to to have my site redesigned and optimized. So now what? Am I'm supposed hire someone to redesign it again simply because Google chooses not to display all the content on pages?

I think it's unfair.
12:31 am on Dec 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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If you wrap your flash in div with a background image equal to the first image from flash slideshow, would this be considered cloaking?
1:03 am on Dec 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I also wonder if the html 5 <video> element with the "poster" attribute for a placeholder image might do the trick. See [code.google.com...] in the "Splash image" section.
1:19 am on Dec 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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No snippet meta tag
The no snippet meta tag is a tag designed to keep Google from using page text in the SERPs, beneath your title tag. The use of the no-snippet meta will remove the instant preview. If currently using the no-snippet tag, is it time to consider removing it in order to test the benefit of displaying an instant preview?


I do not use the "no snippet" meta tag. Nor do I block any bots (good or bad) but my site does not show a preview for some reason. Bummer.
1:49 am on Dec 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I do not use the "no snippet" meta tag. Nor do I block any bots (good or bad) but my site does not show a preview for some reason. Bummer.

Are you by any chances blocking css in robots.txt? This was the reason with one site I know of and unblocking css did the trick.
2:34 am on Dec 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Are you by any chances blocking css in robots.txt? This was the reason with one site I know of and unblocking css did the trick


No blocking of CSS.
5:50 pm on Dec 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@Lame_Wolf:

Do you see any site's icons? If not, what people (do/don't) see is still browser-dependent at this time. Did you try a Safari architecture-based UA? For example, on my Mac, Apple's Safari shows the preview icons, but not Firefox. See also: [sites.google.com...]

Alternatively, if you do see others' previews, do you use "x-robots-tag" elements in .htaccess, and/or use page-based meta tags? If yes, make sure yours don't include "nosnippet." (Took me a while to remember I'd implemented both.)
2:49 am on Dec 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Do you see any site's icons?

Yes, but not with every site. There were 3 on that SERP page that did not. Mine was one of them.

Alternatively, if you do see others' previews, do you use "x-robots-tag" elements in .htaccess, and/or use page-based meta tags?

No.

However, since yesterday my site is now showing them. All I have done since reporting it (here) is to clear out my cache. Can't see that being the cause of the problem though, but that's all I have done in that time.

I checked a few of the inner pages where I have adsense, and I see ugly white boxes where the adverts should be. Not nice.
2:57 pm on Dec 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

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FWIW, I've found G's previews+snippets 'feature' (which I generally like when it works) to be very, and very puzzlingly, inconsistent...

Re-searching for my sites by domain, one had scores of pages with previews the other day, but yesterday only a handful of pages appeared at all (regardless of the "More results from..." and "Show all results from..." options). Another very small site shows no preview icon for its home page, yet there's one on an inside page, and again all other pages don't appear at all despite GWT stating all are indexed. A third site shows previews for all pages except two, even though all have the exact same parameters. Yet another site's pages, with or without previews, also come and go completely.

Yeesh. Talk about crazy-making!

I finally decided to stop checking those sites and more because there are no clear reasons why things come and go -- aside from that old 'propagating across servers' saw -- and there's apparently little I can do anyway. (Also, refreshing robots.txt files and re-submitting sitemaps to GWT makes no difference.) So all the best with what you see in your SERPs, and when and where and how anything appears at all.
3:21 am on Dec 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I have completed a test where I have wrapped flash (image slides) in a div with a background image being equal to the first image shown in flash.

The preview in SERPs previously used to show white empty space where flash was but now shows the background image instead, so the page preview looks much better now.
5:37 pm on Dec 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for that. It's smart approach, and I'm happy to hear that it worked.

Everyone with blank spots in their Google Instant Preview because of Flash - there's a good idea for you to try.
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