One of the first extensions I install on any browser is a Google Search page preview plugin that includes a screenshot of the page in question alongside search results. It’s a wonderfully quick way to detect whether or not a search result is worth clicking through to.
Today, we’ve discovered that Google is publicly testing a feature that allows you to quickly check a search result without having to click through. If you have the feature enabled, simply hover over the magnifying glass alongside a search result and you’re given a quick preview. Ingeniously, Google is also able to highlight sections of the page that include the text you’ve searched for.
Yes, we also thought it might be an extension but we’ve checked and double checked and the results are definitely appearing for users without extensions installed. There are also tweets across twitter from users who have been given an early taste of the feature.
I can tell you first hand, to the user, this is valuable. How site owners will feel when they notice big drops in click through rates is a different story. It should be noted that there are no previews on ads and as one commenter points out, the fact that these previews completely hide the sidebar ads means Google should expect complaints.