Social Media & SEO: Top 10 Tips to Optimize Your Facebook Page

•January 26, 2011 • 1 Comment

In my previous post I was discussing whether Facebook Pages will replace official websites and it is largely matter of an opinion. But let’s face it: right now Facebook Pages are “in”. So, why not make most of it?

Facebook’s newsfeed, invitations, and messages are an useful channel to reach your existing fans and their friends, yet it is possible to even SEO optimise your Facebook Page to reach Facebook’s entire database and search engines. Probably because of the questionable ranking of Facebook Pages in search engines, the platform itself has recently concentrated on offering new opportunities for Page owners to improve their Pages SEO – while creating benefit for Facebook as well of course.

How to SEO optimise your Facebook Page?

To start with, select carefully the keywords you want to implement since all your strategy will be based on those. Read how to select the right keywords here.

1. Use business’s real name as your Facebook Page name – and do not change it

Using too many generic keywords as your Facebook Page name can actually harm your Page’s virality rate inside Facebook. If the title seems too long and suspiciously “spammy”, fans are likely to hide your updates from the newsfeed and not share it with their friends – and if they do, friends are not very likely to “like” you. Picking completely generic page name like “Car” or “Australia” is not a good idea either, because Facebook has lately been disabling updates for generically named Pages.

That is why it is recommended to chose company’s/brand’s real name as the name of the Facebook Page. It should however not be changed, because Facebook uses the Page name in the title, and since search engines ding pages when titles change, changing it can give you a lower ranking.

2. Select optimised, long term URL for your Facebook Page

Facebook offers a possibility to pick a specific URL for your Facebook Page, meaning your Page’s URL becomes Once you pick a Facebook URL for your Page, it cannot be changed – so think a proper, long term name. URLs can be selected at

It is an opportunity to use more generic keywords than the Page name itself or combine the Page name with additional generic keywords, yet there is a black list of generic usernames that Facebook Pages (and users) are prevented from registering. The platform has taken privileges from Pages with generic titles in the past, so it is possible that it might punish too generic sites by for example removing their status publishing rights.

Please note: Your Page has to have at least 100 fans before it can select a username.

3. Use keywords in the “About” text box below your profile picture

The “About” text box is the highest place in the CSS structure of the page to add custom text, because of the limitations of the default Wall tab. To add keywords in your Page’s “About” box, click the “Write something about [YourPage]” in the box below your Page’s profile picture (max. 250 characters).

4. Implement keywords and important links into “Info” tab

Facebook “Info” tab is a possibility to add descriptive metadata about the Page. Completing these fields increases the content score in many types of searches.

For example:

  • Local searches: Address, City, State, and Post code.
  • Product searches: Company Overview, Mission, and Products.

Also, direct links to your own websites or other social media sites increase their traffic and search engine ranking.

5. Create additional “Static FBML” boxes and tabs to include more keyword-dense content on your Page

Adding static text on the default tab of the Facebook Page is quite limited, but there is an app to create additional boxes or tabs that can have any kind of static content such as text, images, and links to increase your ranking. FBML is a subset of HTML and means “Facebook Markup Language”.

How to create a “Static FBML”?

  1. Go to the “Static FBML” application on Facebook.
  2. Click “Add to my Page”, and pick the page you want to add additional box or tab to.
  3. Once done, close the dialog box, go to your Page, and click “Edit page” under your Page’s profile picture.
  4. Click the pencil icon on the right in the application called “FBML 1″, and choose “Edit.”
  5. Enter the title you want to call the box or tab in the “Box Title” field (max. 10 characters) and enter the HTML you’d like to use in the “FBML” field. Then click the Save Changes button.
  6. Once saved, click the “Edit” link at the top of your Page to return to your Page’s application settings. Click the pencil icon next to the name of the FBML application, and choose “Application Settings.”
  7. To add the FBML as a box, select “Add” next to the Box option and the FBML box will automatically appear on the Boxes tab. If you want to move it to the left side of your Wall tab, go to the Boxes tab, click the pencil icon on your FBML box, and choose “Move to Wall tab.”
  8. To add the FBML as a tab, choose “Add” next to the Tab option. The custom content will by default appear on its own tab on your Page.

Remember however that search engines classify each tab as a separate URL.

6. Post direct links to your website in your Wall

Google favours the pages that link to relevant sites and does not like pages linking to unrelated sites or adding too many links suddenly. Placing links to your status updates gets them closer to the top of your Page’s CSS structure giving you better results.

There are two ways to post links into your Page’s stream:

  1. Including the direct URL in the status update – anchor text cannot be controlled, but SEO results are better.
  2. Using the “attach link” feature in the Facebook wall – anchor text can be changed by clicking the page’s title before clicking “Share” in the Facebook publisher, increasing keyword density.

7. Add events with keyword-dense descriptions, photos with captions…and a discussion forum if possible

Use all available descriptive fields on all the shared content. When posting photos, implement keywords into descriptions. When posting events, use keywords in the event description field. Adding a discussion forum to your Page and posting interesting content your fans can comment, can increase your ranking considerably.

8. Increase amount of inbound links to your Facebook Page by posting links to your Page on your website

Inbound links from authoritative websites to your Facebook Page can improve its search engine ranking. It can be done with text links, a “Find Us On Facebook” badge or a Fan Box widget for Facebook Pages .

9. Increase intra-Facebook inbound links by getting more fans

The default version of users profile pages include links to the Pages they are fan of. These pages are visible for search engines, which means that more fans you have, more inbound links you get.

10. Encourage fans to comment and like your content

Every time fans comment or like content in your Facebook Page, their name is linked back to their Facebook profile page. When your Page is indexed, search engines see more two-sided links between your Page and your fans, which is then interpreted as stronger bond increasing your link weight.

These little Facebook SEO tricks can help you to reach beyond the people your fans are connected to and show your Facebook Page to Facebook’s entire database. They also can increase your exposure through the search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and Msn. However, it is good to remember that these tips were created by Facebook to also promote their own platform and increase their platform ranking in search engines. Do not forget to SEO optimise your own site and include various links in Facebook Page directing users to your own official site. Otherwise Facebook can indeed absorb your official website traffic.


Social Media: Are Facebook Pages Replacing Websites?

•January 20, 2011 • 3 Comments

Is it time to pull the plug and say farewell to your company website? The magazine AdAge has published some very worrying numbers concerning consumer behaviour and traffic between brands’ Facebook pages and brands’ official websites. It seems like websites are losing out to Facebook pages.


Looking at the chart below, we can see that very big brands gather millions of “likes”. For example Starbucks and Coca Cola have more than 10 millions of fans.




On the other hand, the traffic of the Coke U.S. website has decreased 40% in one year. Same story with the Oreo brand, which is the number 3 brand page on Facebook, with 8.7 million “likes” growing at a rate of 71 000 new fans each a day. The U.S. traffic of their website has decreased from 1.2 million in July 2009 to 321 000 in July 2010. Starbucks and its 12.7 facebook fans bring stable traffic to their website, yet taking in account their big international growth, should not the traffic be increasing instead?


What comes to the consumer behaviour, numbers do not get better. According to a new research by digital consultancy Beyond, 23% of consumers prefer receiving information from brands via Facebook, instead of a brand’s website (21%) or company blog (3%). This movement is encouraged by marketers who do not doubt anymore promoting their Facebook page instead of the official site. For example in France, certain brands such as Orangina and Sony sign their TV commercial with a “”. Other brands such and Ben&Jerry have announced they will simply stop emailing, using in the future Facebook newsfeed instead.


While Facebook is becoming the biggest relationship marketing tool for brands, it seems like that instead of increasing traffic to the company website, Facebook is actually absorbing it. Marketers across the globe are wondering whether their brand websites will disappear  and if there will still be a need for an official website in five years. Will the users still visit the company websites or will they only use Facebook and apps to check the news and offers?


“So is it time to turn off the web site?” asks Beyond’s MD EMEA Nick Rappolt.


No. The dependence between Facebook and websites will increase, but especially from a global point of view – there really is life beyond Facebook. Only promoting a product in one social platform decreases the possibilities to reach all the potential audience out there. Most of the world is still not on Facebook and having seen the rise and fall of various hot, “world changing” platforms it would not be the most brilliant idea to kill the only secure place brand has in the Internet – the official webpage.

From SEO perspective, using only Facebook Page would drop  search engine results considerably, pushing brand lower in ranking and decreasing amount of quality leads. 

It also should not be forgotten that a marketer is still the master of his own website, controlling its structure, organization, design, content, SEO, marketing operations, customer data etc., while Facebook Page is defined…well by Facebook. Do brands really want to become fully dependent on Facebook and its rules, allowing it to control, restrict and have their say on the content, design and campaigns? I do not think so.


To stop the trend, start using Facebook to drive traffic to the official website. Create a Facebook competition which requires finding clues around your website, announce you will publish the competition winners in your official website, tell your fans about a special offer they can download from the website etc. It is also possible to integrate e-mail marketing with social media, increasing brand’s own customer database.


Facebook is just another way to promote an official website. More importance you give the platform, less power you have over your own campaigns. Do not let tail wag the dog. 

Social Media & E-Mailing: Top 7 Tips to Integrate E-mail Marketing with Social Media

•January 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

According to a study by GetResponse, e-mails containing social media sharing options such as Facebook or Twitter generated a 30% higher CTR than e-mails without them. What is even more promising is that the e-mails including at least three different sharing options had a 55% higher CTR. A very significant result, yet the study states that only 11.2% of e-mails currently offer three or more sharing options.

But why to limit to simple buttons in the end of the e-mails, when there are so many other possibilities to integrate e-mail marketing with social media? If just inserting few buttons can be so successful, imagine what other tricks can do!

Top seven tips to integrate e-mailing and social media:

1. Publish Facebook competition winners in the company newsletter

You acquire a double advantage, because besides of additional incentives of social media competitions, the Facebook community becomes part of your e-mail subscribers.

2.  Promote exclusive offers in Facebook and Twitter – that are only available for e-mail subscribers.

Subscribers want exclusive advantages for their loyalty. Reserving certain privileges for only this group, the perceived value of your e-mail subscribers program increases and gives motivation for other users to join. Since social media is highly viral, the information will spread quickly.

3. Include links to the best web versions of your Newsletters to Facebook and Twitter.

This tactic increases amount of people reading and clicking your Newsletter, even more than just adding “like” buttons.

4. Include “like” buttons in newsletters and promotions, but offer users a reason to use them.

A study by Nielsen Norman Group showed that students used much more the “share” option, when they got benefits from it. For example, “share this in Facebook and find out what your friends think about this product”, “Share this in Twitter so your friends know where to find you”

5. Encourage your subscribers to ask through Facebook or Twitter.

Unfortunately, the subscribers cannot answer commercial messages, so show them the dedication of your customer service by encouraging them to ask questions through social networks.

6. Include questions that were published in Facebook and Twitter in your e-mail and answer them.

If a company is active in social networks, it develops constantly a big base of frequently asked questions and answers that should be included in communications.

7. Create a mail group that includes Twitter followers and send them additional information through email.

Twitter followers appreciate the personal perspective the 140 characters offer, so offer them information that awakens their curiosity.

There has been talk about death of E-mail marketing after the emerge of social media, yet both ways of communication can complement each other and create considerably better campaign results. Another additional benefit of these strategies is creating a strong up-to-date database by encouraging social media users to implement their personal information into the company database.

Capturing social media users (Twitter followers, Facebook fans, bloggers…) personal data is complicated, because of the contact permission issues, yet if they give it voluntarily this can create a considerable amount of leads. Not to mention the possibilities the data capture brings for customer loyalization programs.

Mobile SEO: Best practice – Mobile Optimize with a Separate Mobile SEO Strategy

•January 7, 2011 • 2 Comments

According to the Google Mobile presentation I participated in December, in Q1 2010 mobile search queries from high end phones on Google grew 62% over the previous quarter. Concerning the e-commerce, Google mobile searches on shopping-related keywords have grown 2500% in the past three years. It is clear that instead of only focusing on desktop SEO, there are real possibilities in mobile SEO that should be taken advantage of. Companies are still strugling with the “normal” SEO and do not have time/resources/expertise to mobile optimize. It means that including mobile optimization into the strategy can improve considerably the campaign results with a lower cost, since there are less competitors bidding for the mobile search keywords. For now.

Mobile optimization in a nutshell:

  1. Separate Campaigns
  2. Optimize Your Keyword List
  3. Create Compelling Ad Text
  4. Bid and Budget for Mobile
  5. Track Your Performance
  6. Optimize Mobile Website
  7. Test, test & test

Very interesting point that came up during the presentation was the difference between website SEO and mobile SEO. Even if the mobile SEO is still taking its baby steps, after trial and re-trial Google’s conclusion was that different strategy and separate campaigns are the best way to guarantee stronger results.

Why to use a different strategy:

  • Location based targeting: Desktop is primarily used in one location, while mobile is used in multiple locations.
  • More refined targeting and creation of personal experience: Desktop SEO is for the masses, but in mobile SEO there are different networks and devices that can be separated.
  • More correct ad format to provide the best user experience: Desktop is usually used in times of leisure, while mobiles are mostly used in times of need (except games, social networks etc.)
  • Best method to interact with users: With desktop only website based internet can be used, while with mobiles there are both website based internet and apps available.

Why to target mobile separately:

Separate campaigns mean you can isolate performance on mobile and then optimize keywords, ad text, bids & budgets without affecting your desktop campaign.

  • More control: Set bids and budgets just for mobile, run separate reports to track results and optimize more easily.
  • Relevant messaging: Include messaging with a strong mobile call-to-action and use relevant ad formats.
  • Better targeting: With Google AdWords you can target different carriers and devices.


  • Location extensions – ads are relevant to the user’s location
  • Click to call – users click the number to connect to your business
  • Mobile site links – mention you have a mobile site.
  • Click to download – users click to download pdf, free app, information…

If you are also using Yahoo!, one feature the company has is its new mobile oneSearchTM service. For example, searching for ‘Cinema’ shows a list of cinemas close to user’s location providing him their address and phone numbers. When user clicks the ‘Call’ link next to a number, a call dialogue box opens on the phone.

Bid & Budget:

Ads appear on high end mobile devices as the default, but the competition in mobile search is stronger for fewer ad slots (5 on mobile vs. 11 on desktop). However, for now the price is still lower than with desktop, because of the smaller volume of bidders.

Competitive bidding:

  • Ads appear above the search listings
  • A maximum of two slots
  • High visibility and higher CTR.

Non competitive:

  • Ads appear below search listings.
  • A maximum of three ad slots.
  • Users have to scroll to see ads, lower visibility and CTR.

Get spidered and indexed by mobile search engines:

Mobile optimization does not work, unless you are spidered and recognized. Main issues that may cause your site not  appearing in the search results are:

Spiders may not be able to find your site

The spider must crawl your site before it can be included in the search index. If you just created the site, search engines may not yet be aware of it. If that’s the case, submit your site to major mobile search engines for quick spidering.

Spiders may not be able to access your site

Some mobile sites refuse access to anything but mobile phones, making it impossible for spiders to access the site, and therefore making the site unsearchable. For example with Google, the crawler for mobile sites is “Googlebot-Mobile”. If you would like your site crawled, allow any User-agent including “Googlebot-Mobile” to access your site. Please note: Google may change its User-agent information at any time without notice. That is why it is good idea to verify first that it really handles Googlebot in here.

Search engines cannot recognize your mobile URLs

Once spider crawls your URLs, it checks whether the URL is viewable on a mobile device. Pages that are not viewable are not included to the mobile site index.  Make sure that your URLs’ DTD declaration is in an appropriate mobile format such as XHTML Mobile or Compact HTML.  Mobile search engines  have more trouble digesting invalid code, so to be safe use 100% valid XHTML 1.0 code. It will assure that mobile search engines will not have any trouble with your site. For more information, see the Mobile Webmaster Guidelines.

It is also a good idea to ensure that each of your pages has at least one incoming link.

Mobile Marketing: How to Create User-friendly Mobile Website

•December 14, 2010 • 1 Comment

The increase of mobile Internet use and Smartphone popularity have augmented the importance of designing a specific mobile website. Blackberry, iPhones, iPads, Android, Nokia and other devices can already bring a big part of the traffic to the website, however if the website is not mobile friendly the users might leave as fast as they arrived. The mobile optimized sites are booming and users have become more exigent and expect higher standards while navigating with their devices.

What is very important to realize is that a standard computer screen is not the same as iPhone or Nokia screen and the PC website looks very different in mobile devices. It is essential to take in account the design and lay-out, the legibility and navigation, and the need of fast and efficient download time.

Some examples:

  • Size of screen: Screens are smaller and the web content is organized in different way than in the normal webpage. Basically, it is necessary to organize the information in a vertical manner, but still avoid the need for user to slow down.
  • Images: All the images in the pages should be correct size and smaller and lighter than in the normal page to allow faster download.
  • Connection speed: Your mobile website should be optimized for a fast download and should take in account the lost of connection and other issues related with the connection speed. This especially important for a mobile website that sells products and does not want the user to get worried if the connection fails during the transaction.
  • Widgets and plugins: All the additional components, like widgets, plugins and add-ons can slower down your mobile web and the site might not work in all mobiles. For example, the Apple devices are not compatible with flash, so if you are creating a mobile website, avoid Flash and if possible choose the format HTML5.

As always, it is very important not to focus only on technical aspects, but also consider the end-user. More user-friendly the mobile website is, more likely the user is going to come back.

Remember, mobile users want their information fast:

Mobile and PC users have different reasons to visit your page. PC users are more likely to navigate for leisure, while mobiles are usually used in the time of need and users are more likely to want information urgently to help them at that exact time and location. For example, to find timetables, directions or events near-by. Also they might want quick, fast entertainment to fill up the dead moments in the metro or the bus.

Forget always visible top navigation bar and concentrate on content:

Another difference with PC and Mobile sites is that well designed websites respecting usability repeat the navigation bar on every page to facilitate the user journey. However, since mobile screen is smaller, the top navigation pushes the actual content down and users are forced to scroll down on every page. To increase the usability on your mobile website, show the navigation bar only on the homepage and on other pages include just links to the homepage, back to the last important point users have taken (searching dates & cost for example) and next call to action (for example “buy”). These links should be shown at the top and bottom of the page to keep them close.

Highlight the selected items clearly:

It is usually quite difficult to navigate with the mobile phone, because when you move down the page with the joystick or direction buttons it does not only scroll down, but highlights links, buttons and form fields. This makes it hard for users to see, which item is in focus. Changing the appearance of the item by for example showing different font or background colour of the links or buttons makes it stand out from the rest of the items.

Allow users to select instead of having to write:

Having to type on mobile phone can take time, causes errors and is not viewed positively if the user needs information fast. Allowing users to search or input information by selecting certain fields with an easy-to-use dropdowns instead makes the user journey more pleasant. For example, country, region, sity, type of concert, available movies etc.

Only show essential and relevant information:

Mobile phone users have small screens and not much time to go through the website. Therefore, the best way to save their time would be to create a specific url for the mobile website (which users can bookmark) and re-direct the traffic coming through mobiles straight to the mobile optimized site with the most essential features and content. If the mobile website shows the same, long, nicely written content as in the normal site, information is difficult to find and user might have to scroll down to reach the important content. And pay for it. Most of the mobile phone users do not have yet a fixed cost deal for the internet, so downloading useless content might cost them quite a lot.

Do no forget the “Back” button:

Most of the mobile browsers do not show basic control buttons such as “back” to save screen space or they have opted-in to display webpages always in the full screen mode. That is why the site should have buttons or links such as “Back”, “Next page”, “Back to search results” or “New search” at the bottom of each page. Also, all the buttons should be big and easy to press/click. Another trick to use is a clickable phone number “Click to call”, which has shown to increase the CTR.

Create mobile-friendly design and lay-out:

As mentioned before, usually layouts created for large landscape PC screens do not work well in small mobile screens and user needs to scroll and scroll…and scroll. In case you only want to tweak your website a bit more mobile-friendly, present the content on the left hand side (such as journey search etc. ) with the most important navigation buttons on the top. However, it is better to have a separate page for mobile users if the site receives a lot of mobile traffic.

Mobile Marketing Trends: Spain – Internet Usage, Social Networks & Advertising 2010

•December 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 Zed Digital released recently a fourth wave of the study  “Mobiles and Advertising: perception, use and tendencies” (Móviles y Publicidad: percepción, usos y tendencias), which interviewed 16.000 consumers between 14 and 44 years – the largest sample in Spain so far in this type of studies.

In Spain we are facing a mature mobile market with more advanced capacities and services with 58% of the respondents having had their mobile for less than a year.  Consumers have learned how to access more advanced and innovative services and there is a clear turning point from a professional internet mobile into a personal internet mobile.

However, the market is still expanding. Most popular operators are Movistar (35,85%), Vodafone (29,70%) and Orange (20,65%), however they are all losing market share for the smaller operators. Main reasons for the change are costs, customer service and different model that is offered if you change your operator.

Internet usage:

 54% of the respondents confirms accessing internet via mobile. The principal activities are checking emails, using search, entering social networks and instant messaging.

Almost 50% has a wi-fi with an increase of a 95% compared with the third wave, which shows the rapidity that the terminals adopt new services in the mobiles and smartphones. Yet even if the internet access via mobile has increased, in the next years we will see how it will still see a growth because consumers are yet behind all the technical possibilities their phones offer. This shows in the fact that even if 84% of the users have internet access, only 54% uses it. Same thing happens with packages and use of email, instant messaging and GPS. It shows the clear potential Internet Mobile has in the near future, since users own already devices that are technologically advanced and they only need to learn how to use all the features.

Social Networks:

Use of social networks via mobile has increased between 16-44 years old individuals by 275% in 2010.

The study also analyzes the profile of the users that access social networks via mobile: Young urban who enters social networks to take advantage of the time in the metro or bus to principally send messages (80%) and gossip in 48% of the cases. The most popular network in the device is Facebook with 89% of the users.

62% of the users have less than 30 years and 44% lives in cities with more than 200.000 habitants.

 19.8% of the users spend more than an hour and 29% between an hour and half an hour  in Social Networks. Main perceived advantages users saw were taking advantage of time in bus or metro, being connected to the Social Networks even if they were not at work or at home and being more active user than others because they can connect more time than their friends do. 

Communication & Apps:

 64% of the respondents counts with instant messenger, mostly Windows Live Messenger with 79% penetration among the users, compared with 31,24% with Skype.

 What comes to the use of email and instant messenger, there are two different profiles. Email is mostly used by a man between 30-40 years and Hotmail stays the most used service with 68% of the users, followed by Gmail with 55%. In the contrary, the instant messager is equally popular between two sexes, but is used by younger users (18-24-year-olds).

 Concerning the apps, already 24% of the users download them habitually. The principle downloads are games and entertainment followed by social networks and instant messenger. These apps are the ones they keep in their phone and use mostly daily.


According to the study, respondents perceive mobile marketing as a meeting point between consumer and the brand and think it offers the brand modernity, innovation, differentiation and leadership.

They also noticed the advertising in mobiles: 72% remembers having seen advertisements in their phone and 49% has clicked an advert some time. Besides, surprisingly 46% of the consumers would give permission to receive advertising into their phone and this percentage would increase if there was some advantage for the consumer (discounts, operator loyalization points) or if it was advertising they have requested.

 The most attractive advertising formats are audio MMS and the sponsored videos, advergaming and sponsored apps – formats that offer consumer additional advantage for user.

 On the other hand, the geolocalization services have huge potential, because 73% of the interviewed said they would be interested of receiving advertising messages related to the place where they are.

 Only 3 years ago half of the intelligent mobiles in Spain were used in professional environment, however, with the more attractive smartphone prices and offers from the operators, the balance has tipped in a favour of consumer market and personal use. The use of social networks, music and games are the keys in the new era where mobile marketing in Spain is no more an option, but a necessity – and it is even welcome according to the users! From a web design and usability point of view, it is now important to consider if your website is mobile friendly and is it easy to use in small scale.

Of course, it is not about concentrating only on mobile marketing, but integrating it slowly yet steadily into your other marketing and communication strategies. Taking advantage of the trend now when the interactive mobile advertising is not yet saturated and is perceived positive can give your brand a strong position in the future.

SEO: Google Instant Preview – New Visual Search Changes SEO Rules & Increases Importance of Website Design

•November 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 Google has recently launched a new feature called “Instant Previews” and took search to the next level by making it visual. The new feature allows users to have a small graphic preview of the page that appears in the search results without a need to click the actual link.

The impact of this new functionality on online marketing and SEO strategies is considerable, because it influences users click decisions in a very different way. Giving the user the possibility to preview the page can affect directly the Click-through rate (CTR) and the effectivity of the links – indifferent of the links position in search results itself.

How does it work:

  • User clicks once on the magnifying glass next to the title of any search result and a visual overview of the page will appear on the right.
  • User can hover the cursor over any other search result to see a preview of the page.
  • Users using only keyboard to search can navigate to a result, press the right arrow key to see the preview, and press the down arrow key to keep browsing.

The advantages users have with Google instant preview:

  • Quicker result comparison – A visual comparison of search results allows user to quickly hover over previews to see which page looks right.
  • More relevant content – Text call outs, in orange, will sometimes highlight where users search terms appear on the webpage so they are able to evaluate if it’s what they are looking for.
  • Interaction with the results page – Page previews allow user to see the layout of a webpage before clicking the search result, seeing e.g. how-to-guide, chart, picture, map, list…
  • Finding previous results – Returning users who need to find a certain page again are able to see with the preview if any of the results look familiar.
  • Avoiding false results – Sometimes the highest search results do not have any content, but contain irrelevant links. With preview user can identify the official websites and other sites with proper content from the false ones.

The search process is also faster. Some websites can take 4-5 seconds to load, but with “Instant Previews” the other result previews are loaded in the background in 10th of a second so the user does not need to wait. This might also signify that user will hover over more search results than previously, which means that more visual websites in lower ranking could start having better CTR than the ones on the top.

There has been a lot of talk about “the death of the design” in the emerge of SEO, but to me it looks like the design is striking back. Content of the website and the key words are still relevant, but if the user is able to flip through previews quickly without bothering to read the search title and text, the visual aspect of the website plays a big part whether he stops and clicks.

The total impact of this new visual search is still to be known, however a lot of companies should re-evaluate the design and lay-out of their website. Unattractive and unprofessional preview can have a very negative effect on the search engine marketing. Even if the website ranks high, users may not click.

For the moment, companies should also avoid flash overlays, because the previewing tools do not seem to read flash and only show a picture of a puzzle in preview. Otherwise there is no problem using flash as long as there is also an html alternative for the page.

However, Google has confirmed their engineers are trying to fix this problem as soon as possible:

“This is a temporary issue that we’re working to fix. Currently, some videos or Flash content in previews appear as a “puzzle piece” icon or a black square. We’re working on rendering these rich content types accurately. So we hope webmasters aren’t rushing to get rid of Flash – this is temporary!” says Google spokesperson Courtney Hohne.

You can see the introductory video here.