Google Preview Is Changing Things

Well as you probably all know, Google recently introduced it’s new ‘preview’ extension to the search results which effectively displays a huge screenshot of your site when you hover a little question mark next to your listing, and our early monitoring indicates this could profoundly affect your results especially if you rank highly and get lots of traffic for a particular key phrase.

Why?

Well contrary to what you have probably heard lately, long form sales letters and ugly squeeze pages still convert pretty well but times they are changing.

Looking at all our niche and testing sites, over 70% have long form squeeze and sales letters, and they work…

But, and here’s the big but… I think ‘preview’ will kill these.

People are going to slowly but surely get used to previewing sites before they click, and design is going to matter. A site is going to have to look interesting before people click through, and its’s my belief Google is tracking every view and click from a view and will be factoring that into their¬†algorithm in the not too distant future.

Compelling design will be important!

The Small And Inconsequential Data To Back This Up

At the moment, we have very little data to substantiate this. Like I said, it’s just a hunch at the moment, but we did on one site notice a 2% drop in traffic and 3% on another the instant Google rolled out ‘preview’, and ¬†has remained that way ever since.

Now, I have a couple of quick tips for you whilst you prepare for your design changes or we publish some more conclusive data…

First, get rid of ANY flash elements, they don’t render in Google Instant previews. If you are using video, make sure you have a splash image for the video and don’t just start streaming. The splash image will show on the preview, which is obviously what you want. You can convert many flash buttons and small images to an animated gif or use another technology like javascript to create the movement you need.

Second, make sure your font is of a decent size and also your H1 headline text because the preview text is tiny and you want to make sure that people can get a gist of your page before they click through.

Third, have a look at what Google is highlighting in your preview image. *This may be what they are using to help rank you for that search phrase and appears to be a relevant snippet if you use it on the page.

Fourth, and finally… Google is not always highlighting. When searching a phrase and competitors show up with relevant snippets in their preview images, and you do not, maybe you can weave your desired phrase in to that page, if appropriate and you want to rank for it.