Google Instant Previews Visualize Search Snippets

Google Instant Previews let users visualize results to help them decide if they want to click on them. Previews highlight relevant results in less than one-tenth of a second.

Google Nov. 9 added to its speedy search lineup with Google Instant Previews, which lets users visualize results to help them decide if they want to click on them.

When users type in a query using Google Instant, Instant Previews provides a snapshot of a search result, highlighting the most relevant sections in less than one-tenth of a second.

Users will click once on the magnifying glass next to the title of any search result to pop out a visual overview of the page on the right.

This allows users to scan the page before taking action. Don't like what you see in a page? Users can move the cursor over the other results to see previews.

Text call outs will sometimes highlight in orange where search terms appear on the Webpage, another signal to help users narrow their search.

Users will then choose a Website to click on based on the title, a snippet of text and the URL in the preview they see after mousing over results.

Think of Instant Previews as a way to reduce mistaken or wasted clicking, giving users more information before they click on a result. What might users tap Instant Previews for?

While is traditionally capable of offering text snippets, Instant Previews let users peruse charts, graphs or maps that might exist in a search result. Or, a user may be trying to recall a page they've seen before. The visual cues in the snapshot will help with this.

Another interesting use case is disambiguation of people. Say you're looking for a John Smith. There are millions of males with that name, but being able to pop out Instant Preview of results to see profile pictures of the person could help narrow the search.

Just because Google builds it, doesn't mean people will use it. After all, Microsoft's Bing launched with quick previews in 2009 and it can hardly be said the search engine has rocketed to stardom.

Yet power users who want to save time searching will love Google Instant Previews.

Jeremy Silber, tech Lead for Web Search Features at Google, told eWEEK that people who use Instant Previews are 5 percent more likely to be satisfied with the results they click.

Instant Previews, which comes two months after Google launched its Instant predictive search technology, are rolling out gradually now in more than 40 languages in the next few days.

What's interesting about Previews is that they come as upstarts such as Blekko, Quora and others are trying to help users find the right search results or answers people are looking for, an alternative to Google, Yahoo and Bing's loads of largely irrelevant links.

Silber's team develops new search features to help users find the right results faster, so Instant Previews is well suited to his core mission.