A client pointed out interesting behavior in their Google Analytics Real-Time report – when a user mouses over previews of your site’s URL in the SERP, it is reported in the Top Active Pages report. This may not be a fully-rolled out feature as I cannot replicate it on other accounts I have access to. Here’s how it gets triggered:

1. Open up the Real-Time report in GA

2. Search Google for your site using a site: query (e.g. site:domain.com/directory) – it seems to work only if you search for a specific directory v. the entire domain

3. Hover your mouse over the preview arrows for one of the results until the preview of the cached page appears

4. Check out the Real-Time Top Active Pages report and the URL you previewed should pop up there shortly

This feature makes sense as previewing a page is an active interaction with your site, but it’s not quite the same as a person actually going to your site.

If this is a true feature, my initial take is that interactions with Google Previews will eventually factor somehow into the ranking algorithm as another measure of Engagement. For example, if a user previews your URL and doesn’t click, that could count against you, perhaps even more than if they just didn’t click your URL from the results. It’s kind of like sampling the food and spitting it out, right?

And those URLs that convert Previews into clicks likely will do better in the rankings.

In the last redesign you did for your site, how many of you took how the pages will show up in Google Previews into account? Don’t all jump in at once…

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3 Response Comments

  • Christopher Regan  May 17, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Thanks, Andrew.

    O.K. — I’ll jump in, re: previews. You bet your behind I’ve spent time obsessing over previews (Google, and briefly Bing) for CTR — even the block highlighted text sections as seen in Google. Some sites, in their previews, have nearly 1/3rd of those precious preview pixels sitting fallow — something to consider too?

  • Andrew Shotland  May 17, 2012 at 8:31 am

    So has your obsession unearthed any insights into Google Previews best practices?

    I think less is more on Previews. An image big enough to be recognized in the SERP and bold headlines for each feature on the page should do the trick.

  • alen jessy  June 1, 2012 at 5:24 am

    really a amazing stuff, keep posting for new updates..