New Ranking Signals: Google Preview, Goo.gl

Google does an awesome job in creating new signals for itself. Two recent ones have caught my attention:

1. Google Preview: You can see what this looks like here:

Digital Cameras Search Result

Once you enter a search result in, if you click on the magnifying glass you see a preview of the web page before you click through on it and decide to visit it. What is interesting about this is that users will need to move their cursor to the magnifying glass and click on it to see the preview. This is just as much work as it is to click through to the web page and look at it. I can’t imagine that more than a few percent of people will do this.

So why would Google do this? To get a signal. Imagine that 3% of search queries result in someone previewing before clicking through on it. Even the fact that they felt the need to preview it represents a signal. It tells Google that the previewer did not have an immediate sense of brand recognition and wanted to check it out from a distance first. The second signal is the percentage of people who preview a listing that end up clicking on it. The key to both these signals is how your page compares to your competition for these metrics.

From Google’s perspective, this is really valuable data.

2. Goo.gl: Google’s new URL shortener is pretty interesting to. Danny Sullivan did a nice analysis of how this compares to bit.ly. It does seem like a bit of a me too service, so why would Google do this?

One thing that Google is looking actively for is data from within social media properties. Social data is already in use as a signal, and they are looking for more of it. The great thing that goo.gl can do for them is give them data on the click history to the destination page of a shortened URL. In fact, this works even if the social site is a walled garden.

Yet again, some more awesome data.

Summary

When Google makes these announcements it is always interesting to read a bit between the lines. As readers of my writings know, I believe that Google truly understands the critical nature of protecting their brand through maximizing user satisfaction. More quality signals is a big key to that, so a lot of creative energy at Google will continue to be invested in these types of initiatives.

Comments

  1. Google has always gone about cleverly getting the answers and information needed without compromising their user satisfaction. They are constantly coming up with new innovative ways in search. I’m a big Google fan, they are just proof of something that continues to grow in a positive direction.

  2. Hello,
    Maybe your are right but I find this “Google Preview” very interesting for a couple of reasons but the main one would be: by clicking the “magnifying glass” instead of the link, Google is preventing “spam site”, “junk site”, … to annoy user experience.

    serge aube
    twitter.com/saube

  3. I think this change can correct the
    Affect of google instant over
    Sites that rank low on the first SERP.
    Google preview can change the clickthrough rates
    between 1st & 10th place.
    Plus, it will increase the time visitors
    Stay in SERP, which means more
    Attention to adwords ads too.

  4. I disagree with one key point. You only have to click the magnifying glass ONE time on any listing, then the preview pops up on ALL results on that page. I find this very useful as a way to try to find real content vs. crummy adwords / scraper sites. And the previews are MUCH faster than clicking each link to view all pages. Granted you can’t always tell how good the site is from the preview, but often you can.

    Another interesting point is that Flash content shows up as a blank box, so designing sites to preview well becomes an interesting consideration if average searchers are indeed using this feature.

  5. If you login to your google account and have google webmster tools service, Goo.gl is listing your short URL(s) for your registered site(s). And click the details on this page, you can see the link’s clicks for some periods. Its really good service.

  6. I think Google preview was the best of Google’s innovations last year.
    A lot of their implementations made me feel that they were for Google’s benefit (mainly to do with alterations to the paid listings fomat); but as said, the preview can help a lot in not clicking through to an obvious spam site.

  7. Google always creats something new and keeps going ahead. It is rather difficult for Bing and Yahoo to catch up with, this is why the later two have to work together to fight their common rival.

  8. I still prefer bit.ly over goo.gl because bit.ly has superb tracking system that we need to do split test and so on.

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