I was checking out Google Instant Previews – Google is now testing displaying images of web pages listed in SERPs to give users a preview so they don’t have to waste a click “pogosticking”, as Danny Sullivan calls it in his overview of the service. Of course, my first reaction was “what are the SEO implications?”
The service doesn’t appear to be fully baked yet, so take this with a grain of salt, but it appears that there may be a simple way to influence what gets displayed.
IMO the most significant feature of Instant Previews are the “Call Outs” – text that GOOG extracts from the page and shows enlarged on the thumbnail preview. See the screenshot below for the call out that appears for my blog when shows up for “local seo”:
It appears that the Call Out is using the first instance of “local seo” that appears on the page after the section of the code. So understanding what your top keywords are and optimizing that first set of text to display the right message for the Call Out could be an area ripe with opportunity.
But you can’t optimize this text for every possible query so let’s see what happens with the case of a keyword that is not “primary” for you. Check out what happens when I show up for “google local seo”:
In this case the Call Out found the first instance of the first two words in the query – “Google” & “Local” – that were in proximity to the third word “SEO”.
Understanding how to craft content that clusters these terms together in a way that explains the benefits of your service could make a difference.
These kinds of concepts are nothing new to SEO copywriters, but with Instant Previews, we now have yet another chance to use Google’s algorithm either to gain attention or to lose it.
BTW I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point GOOG releases a tag or microformat that allows sites to suggest what they want to show as their default call-out.
Here’s a link to a test version of the service if you want to check it out.