Last week saw the release of Google Instant Previews for ads. Much like the same previews that Google rolled out for search results last November, the new Instant Previews for Google ads (already available to users in the U.S. and coming soon to international users) will add a “preview option” to all Google ad placements, so that searchers can view what actually appears on any advertised webpage without having to leave Google search.
For those watching their advertising dollars, this may be great news – as those who use Google ads pay Google on a per-click basis. These preview options will allow searchers to view the site without clicking through first. Those disinclined to click through have certainly saved site owners a few adverting dollars.
This is also good news because it suggests that those who opt to click through to the site may be potentially open to your sales pitch or your call to action – based on what they have already seen the preview.
But all this good news comes with a few caveats. Let’s take it from the top.
According to the Google press release, “the Instant Previews icon will appear next to ads on Google.com allowing users to preview the ad’s landing page. With Instant Previews, your customers are able to quickly preview a page to see if its content matches what they’re searching for.”
I’d like to repeat that last bit: …customers are able to quickly preview a page to see if its content matches what they’re searching for.”
This is the most-significant take-away for the new search-enhancement release. In some respects, it’s a game changer because searchers – and prospective customers – will now be able to preview the page to which your ad links. In other words, it’s a peephole to see if the content of your page matches their keyword search and interests. Think of it as “advance knowledge” that may very easily sway their decision to click through to your page and consume your content. And, yes, from a cost-overhead perspective, any searcher that decides not to click through to your website has just saved you a couple of bucks (or maybe even more) by acting against the preview.
What does this mean for those websites that are actively trying to court prospects through Google’s ad program? The answer is pretty familiar to most: Relevancy.
Three things to keep in mind:
1. Quality website and user experience design has never been more important. You must put your best foot forward, so to speak, as a quick glance at your target page will immediately generate a positive or negative user response.
Note: Any web designer worth their can of RedBull spends a good number of hours trying to understand web users, developing product strategy, and planning out details that are developed specifically to engage the user and lead them toward conversion. The final product – especially in a world where searchers can (and will) peek at your site before entering – should absolutely meet your customer needs and your business objectives.
People feast with their eyes first. Give them something good to look at. Clicks may become customers.
2. Your choices in selecting your keywords must become highly relevant to the content of your site. Keywords, obviously, are those select words that describe the topics discussed specifically on your web pages. Common language keywords are often recommended, as well as some general terms.
Remember: keywords alone determine where your ads are eligible to show. Wrong keywords = wrong placement = wrong target audience = no clicks. That’s wasted effort.
3. Since the instant preview is effectively “speeding up” the searching and selecting process, it would stand to reason that any website content (copy, imagery, your call to action) should also be written or developed to engage your site visitors and quickly guide them to take action or make a buying decision without wasting time. If the nature of your site and your product necessitates a volume of page content, make certain that you’ve edited that content down to the minimums.
Here, we can all take a piece of advice from author Ernest Hemingway, who was famous for his economical use of words. Hemingway said, “Boil it down, rather than spread it out.”
A last note: At this time, Google does not offer search users an option to disable the instant previews. There are some third-party add-on extensions for Firefox and Chrome (Greasemonkey is one) that will allow you to disable the instant previews. But as far as Google is concerned – Instant Previews are here to stay.