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Thumbnails in Custom Search Results - an experiment?

8:48 am on Dec 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I don't know if this was mentioned before, but upon creating a custom Google search engine this morning, I discovered the SERPS contained little thumbnails next to the listings.

Here's a screenshot of my findings:[ow.ly ]

Is this new?

Are Google perhaps experimenting with this in Custom search before rolling it out to main search?
6:56 am on Dec 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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It's the first report I've heard about this change. When I tried the custom search trial that Google offers, I did not get any thumbnails.

I don't have a functioning CSE that I can check right now - I would appreciate hearing from someone who does.
7:43 am on Dec 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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I'm seeing about 3-6 images per page on searches that I'd expect to have images to show... and about 1, 2, or 3 per page on searches where I would not normally expect them (and don't show any images on google.com).

In one case I checked in the "unexpected" category, it appears Google captured a single image from a jquery sliders-gallery and reduced it to thumbnail size.
8:43 am on Dec 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I created another CSE with a different site and every site I do a CSE for will show thumbnails next to snippets provided that the page indexed of course actually has images to pull.

I did some further research and found that these thumbnails can actually be customized in the embedded html generated by the CSE's final step.Google announced this back in 2009 already. [googlecustomsearch.blogspot.com]

The funny thing is I've been creating Custom Search Engines almost daily for the past two years and yesterday was the first time I saw thumb-nailed snippets.

So I guess I answered my own question. This is probably not a Google experiment, but in fact a CSE feature they released 2 years ago.

It would be cool to see these thumbnails next to ALL snippets in Google's main SERPS though. :)

[edited by: tedster at 5:05 am (utc) on Dec 8, 2011]

6:43 pm on Dec 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I've been seeing this since at least a month before. I had made no change to my CSE. Thumbnails seem to be displayed on SERPs when the post has images.

Off topic:
Rewriting title tag is also occurring in CSE. :(