Google Instant Preview & How It Reduces SEO Spam

In my view, Google has had some missteps in changing their search engine. For example, I still hate that I cannot hide the sidebar, lets also try to forget Sidewiki. Nevertheless,  after some time to see it in action, Google Instant has been a winner. As a user I find what I want faster. I also like how I also see other searches I might not have considered.From an SEO/SEM perspective it’s another tool I can use in creating long tail word campaigns.

Today, however, on a random day in November, Google has changed search and SEO once again. Today Google has announced the release of Google Instant Preview which everyone will be seeing shortly (and if not soon enough, you can try it here). But what is Instant Preview really and is it really a game changer? First it’s important to note its not your grand-daddy’s preview. Second, as user discover it (and they will) it will make SEO spam less effective. Why you ask? Well unlike Bing, Google is giving you a preview you can use. Also while there are add-ons in Mozilla that can do the same thing (like CoolPreviews), most normal users will not bother. Google Instant Preview will be right there, right in the search results. No mess, no fuss.

Best of all, Google has done their homework. Its simple to use.  Just click the magnifying glass next to a result and you will get a nice pop-up. The images are large and crisp (although Flash does not show). The main text you searched will be highlighted, and if needed there are tear-aways. In other words, one size does not fit all. In short, the site previews work better then any I have ever seen.

Just look at the below a comparison on a search for this site:

Here is the Bing result

Now while Bing gives you a textual context, lets look at a page using Google Instant Preview:

Which gives you a better decision if you should click? I think the choice is obvious. This is also why SEO spam, MFA (made for Adsense) sites, and all sorts of  nefarious tricks trying to game search results will become less effective. Users will be able to see what they will be getting into before they click. Imagine that. No more clicking to find a site full of ads and no content.

Those sites that wish to opt out of Google Instant Preview can by using the NOSNIPPET meta tag, but to me this is a Phyrric victory. Sure they can block Google, but your competition won’t. Also unlike Sidewiki, this is cool. This is something people will want to show their friends. This is something the media will cover. And last but not least, its actually useful.

From a webmaster point of view, I hope long term Google Webmaster Tools will add stats on how many previews you get. It will be a new stat to track:  Website Preview CTR (click through rate), a measurement of what percentage clicked thrus your site gets from users after viewing a preview.

All in all I think this is a win-win situation for users and webmasters who focus on making good content. Users will find what they want faster. Webmasters who put out a quality product will get more clicks. Spammers won’t get the clicks, so they will have to find other ways to game the system.

There is a dark cloud to all these wonderful changes–at least from what I have observed. Being on the first page of Google is now more important then ever. In my informal viewing of people using Google Instant, people are using Google Instant to refine searches rather then go to page 2 or 3 in the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Page). This means you really need to work on your long tail search words.

It will be interesting to see how things play out in the near future, but I still believe in the core philosophy: Quality relevant content will  eventually get you what you deserve.

If you are looking for more info about Google Instant Preview, SearchEngineLand has a great write up by Danny Sullivan.

Adrian Speyer

About The Author: Adrian has over 12 years experience in Digital Marketing and Analytics. He currently works as a Marketing Manager at Vanilla Forums, a modern forum software platform that allows clients to connect and engage their communities and customers. He lives and works in Montreal.

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