Google is very careful with the design of its search page–though the look and feel may not be to your taste, Google cherishes it and usually only adjusts it incrementally. Now there’s news it’s trying something quite big–pop-over full page result previews.
First up is a subtle effect that makes it clear when your mouse is hovering over a particular search query result: The particular text will soon get a pale blue background, as a handy visual cue. The highlighted link can causes a little pop-over window to appear, which contains a miniature but full-page preview of the linked website. This even contains orange-framed highlighted segments with excerpted text that’s relevant to your search query, and the text fragment may be different from the usual sentence or two that Google delivers beneath a search result. It’s an idea borrowed from rival Bing, but with Google’s own twist.
Imagine you’re looking for a particular blog article that’s similar in nature to a couple of other ones online–searching for a particular quote inside these articles now may require you to search and then visit several of the sites, possibly even just to prompt your visual memory, in order to find the one you want. With this new preview system, the website graphic alone may be enough to confirm you’ve found the right link. In some senses it’s a little like the “Top Sites” service inside newer versions of Apple’s Safari browser, with thumbnail images of your favorite pages to help you quickly identify and surf to the site of your choice.
The tweak will definitely change how you search multiple results on Google. But it will also have two knock-on effects that may not be immediately obvious, and which could significantly affect other online businesses outside Google. First, while it makes search more convenient it’s actually an adjustment in Google’s favor: It keeps you on Google’s page for longer, meaning you get more eyeball-time on Google’s profitable adverts. And then there’s the second effect: It may cut down on page visits to sites, because (as in the example above) you may not need to do a quick surf to so many URLs to help you find your intended destination. This could–just possibly–hurt the visitor stats of some sites, depending on how the system works, and thus directly impact their advertising revenues.
Blogstorm.com is reporting this news, but what we can’t find out is if and when the experiment will become a Google-wide feature.
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