SERP website previews – Google’s test crew is at it again

Google Apocalypse: SEO is dead

Many users across the Interwebz started noticing a new trend in their Google seach engine results pages (SERPs) today. Is it a sign of things to come or the next bi-monthly Google apocalypse?

Today with no fanfare or official announcement, Google users in the US and elsewhere began to notice some changes to their normal SERPs. For me personally, it only seems to occur when using Google’s Chrome browser. I’m not able to replicate it in Firefox which makes me wonder if it’s related to Google Gears in some way?

Google has integrated a website preview into the SERPs where, if active, when you hover over an individual result it is highlighted in blue and if you click the blue area, Google will load a preview of the result’s website, with appropriate content highlighted and summarized for the user.


Is this, dare I ask, the end of SEO?

Pssht. Hardly. Does this mean your on-page content and presentation is going to be more important than ever? Probably so. If the user can view your website and relevant copy without ever having to leave Google, then your content is going to have to be strong, compelling and presented in an attractive manner to convert that searcher to click over to your website.

Not much is known at this point on how long this “feature” will remain, whether users will be able to disable it or not.

A couple of interesting observations

If you look at the image below, you’ll notice the website preview that is highlighted has a broken video in the preview. After visiting the page, that video is using a Flash video player. Looks like Google is still having trouble with Flash.

You’ll also notice the preview covers up the paid ads on the right sidebar. Are Adwords advertisers going to have a problem with that? As someone who uses Adwords, I do.

What experiences have you had with this new Google experiment? Tell us about it in the comments.

Cap & Trade



  1. George O'Neill

    October 6, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Google has always maintained the best SEO is writing great content!

  2. Lani Rosales

    October 7, 2010 at 9:57 am

    What this implies to me is that aesthetics ARE important, not just words. Love it!

    • Marty Martin

      October 7, 2010 at 10:01 am

      It definitely adds a certain level of persuasion through design, etc. into the conversion process. Whereas before a user could’ve been persuaded to click through to your site by just the SERP snippet, now (assuming this sticks around and is widely adapted by users), the user can preview your site before leaving Google. Maybe your site isn’t attractive so they don’t click through? Maybe seeing the keyphrase they searched for in its context on page makes them click through…or not. Lots of interesting possibilities.

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