Joel Klettke is a Search Engine Optimization specialist at Vovia. Joel's also an experienced writer and local marketing expert.

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Google Preview: SEO Game-Changer?

pacmangamechangeIn November Google rolled out an update that allows users to preview a website before clicking through. Here’s how it works:

Previews are seen by clicking on the magnifying glass icon next to search results:

Snapshots look like this:

Sometimes Google will also display what is called a “Call Out” (or Content Snippet) – an orange box that highlights text on your page that directly correlates with what the user searched for. Call outs look like this:

Many are wondering, is Google Previews a game-changer for Search Engine Optimization? I don’t think so as this update doesn’t directly affect search engine results. That said, SEO does play a role in the call outs shown in previews and I do think these will have at least a small affect on search behaviour.

Google determines if a call out will appear based on the page’s content and meta-description, evaluating which is more relevant to the search. If the on-page content is more relevant, a call out box will appear. If the meta-description is more relevant then unfortunately no call out will show up.

To optimize for call outs, use your keywords in close proximity to each other in the body of your page’s content. Use your targeted keywords as well as natural variations to maximize the potential for a call out to appear.

In addition, Google Previewincreases the importance of web design. If your pages look dated, cluttered or spammy then it might be time for a spruce-up.Also noteworthy is that if components of your website are built in Flash, Google will not properly preview those parts of your site since it does not support flash, putting your site at a disadvantage to sites which do preview properly.

While it may not be a game-changer, don’t make the mistake of ignoring Preview. Google cites that searchers were 5% more likely to be satisfied with their results when they used Preview beforehand. That might not sound like much, but every little bit helps. Not only that, we’re still in the early days and that number may increase as people become more adept at using this new feature.

Check out your listings and see if you’re making a strong first impression! With the right attitude and a little bit of work, you can turn Google Preview into an online marketing advantage.