Google is at it again. Their “Google Caffeine” infrastructure update was vastly increased their computing power. That update has paved the way for features many of the new features that we’ve seen recently, such as Google Instant.
Today you may notice little magnifying glass icons next the your search results. Clicking on any of these icons will activate “Google Instant Previews.” On clicking you are presented with a thumbnail image of the website in the result, and from then on, rolling over the other results will also display the thumbnail of the associated website.
One positive result of Google Instant Previews, for those of us in the web design business, is that sites that are horribly ugly (a.k.a. not professionally designed) will most likely see a drop-off in traffic. Of course this will depend on the vertical involved, but I think most consumers will use this preview to filter out sites that look cheap, low-quality and unprofessional. Made For Adwords (mfa) sites will hopefully see a significant drop in traffic as will a lot of other spam, which is often easy to identify visually.
Across the board I think people will see less traffic overall, but their bounce rate should also decrease, as searchers no longer need to click in to get a preview of their website.
Another consequence I would expect, would be a lower CTR (click-through rate) for Adwords. Why? 1)Because Adwords ads do not have the Instant Preview feature, they are functionally separated from the natural results more than they have been in the past. In fact many searchers don’t know the difference between sponsored results and natural results, and to them, clicking on one was no different than clicking on the other. Now if the searcher likes the Instant Preview feature, they will be less likely to waste the extra click on the sponsored results that don’t have it. 2) At popular screen resolutions the Instant Previews actually block the Adwords ads.
I must admit I can’t imagine that Google would do anything to decrease the click-through for Adwords. It’s their bread and butter, and almost all of the recent changes they’ve made recently have had the effect of pushing searchers to Adwords, be it by rearranging the real estate, or pushing searchers to more popular key phrases.
What do you think?