Google made a big splash in September when it began serving up search results in real time as users tapped out their queries.
Now it’s adding images to the Google Instant feature.
On Tuesday morning Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) rolled out an update that it’s calling “instant previews,” which displays an image of the sections of the website that Google deems relevant next to the link and text snippet served up by the Instant feature.
“With Google Instant you get results as fast as you type, but your search doesn’t stop there,” Google Product Manager Raj Krishnan wrote in a blog postannouncing the new feature.
Google has added a magnifying glass icon to its search results page alongside each link that, when clicked, brings up the visual previews of the website on the right side of the screen. Google boasted that users testing the feature in trials were 5 percent more satisfied with their results than testers who didn’t have the feature turned on.
“The previews provide new ways to evaluate search results, making you more likely to find what you’re looking for on the pages you visit,” Krishnan said.
Speed and relevance were Google’s chief selling points when it rolled out the Instant Results feature. And with images, the search giant is extending its efforts to direct users more quickly to the information they are seeking.
The images that appear on the right side of the screen are composites of the website, different bits of content on different pages knitted together from Google’s existing index of the Web. Google is aiming to present images tailored to a user’s query, and because they are drawn from the current index, the company says they typically load in less than one-tenth of a second.
Once a user clicks the magnifying glass icon, the preview images for each link appear as the mouse hovers over them, a feature Google says is intended to simulate the experience of flipping through a magazine.
Last week, Google extended its Instant feature to mobile devices.
Kenneth Corbin is an associate editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.