Google Instant Previews Visualize Search Snippets

By: E&P Staff

Brier Dudley | The Seattle Times

Get ready for another significant change in the way Google looks and works.

The search giant today is rolling out “Instant Previews” on its Web search page, giving users the ability to quickly get a peek at the Web pages listed in search results. The feature goes live today and will be available in more than 40 languages over the next few days.

Search results will display a small magnifying glass icon on the right side of links. When you click the icon, it launches “Instant Preview” mode. In that mode, a large preview pane pops up on the right when you hover the cursor over any of the search results.

It’s not just a thumbnail image of a Web page. Google highlights where your search terms appear on the page. If it’s a long page, the preview image is cut, pasted and displayed in such a way that you see the upper portion and the lower portion where the search terms appear. Google calls this a “tear” and displays a jagged line, as shown below.

It’s a cousin to Google’s “cached” feature, which shows snippets of Web pages, highlighting where search terms appear in the pages. But instead of just showing a snippet, previews show an image of the page with the relevant portion highlighted.

Ben Gomes, a Google distinguished engineer at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters who worked on the project, characterized the new feature as an evolutionary step in the company’s ongoing effort to make searching faster and more precise.

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