People searching on Google will soon be able to see previews of websites before clicking on them.

Called “Instant Previews,” Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) unveiled the new feature Tuesday.

“Instant Previews provides a graphic overview of a search result and highlights the most relevant sections, making finding the right page as quick and easy as flipping through a magazine,” wrote Raj Krishnan, product manager at Google, in a blog.

“To use it, click 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. From there, hover your cursor over any other result to see a preview. For those of you who’ve recently stopped using your mouse to search, now you can navigate to a result, hit the right arrow key to see the preview, and hit the down arrow key to keep browsing.”

(For a demonstration video, watch here.)

Google says the benefits for Instant Previews include:

• Quickly Compare Results: A visual comparison of search results helps you pick which result is right for you.
• Pinpoint Relevant Content: Text call outs highlight where your search term appears on the web page so you can evaluate if it’s what you’re looking for.
• Interact with the Results Page: Page previews let you see the layout of a web page before clicking the search result.

Instant Previews is meant to help people bypass websites that are either irrelevant or simply too visually cluttered for their tastes. It works for Google Web searches, as well as searches for news, video and local businesses.

After clicking on an icon of a magnifying glass, people will see a picture of the website in the white space to the right of the search results within a tenth of a second. Although the preview photo will vary in size, just as Google Inc.’s image results do, Google designed the previews so that they’ll never eclipse the search results and clutter the page.

Google will also show a box above the picture zooming in on the section of the website where the search terms appear. The search terms will be highlighted in that box.

While someone looks at a picture of a website, Google will load visual previews for other search results in the background so that people can quickly compare websites by rolling the cursor over the results on the page.

The feature is a follow-up to Instant Search, a feature Google unveiled in September that updates search results as people continue typing. Last week, Google said that people who own an iPhone or a smart phone running Google’s Android software can use Instant Search too.

Google said it is introducing visual previews because word-based search results can only tell someone so much about what a website holds in store. People who use Google can already read short snippets from a site before they click on it, as well as, say, the date a news story or article was published.

“We realized early on that this kind of experience would only make sense if it was lightning fast, Krishnan wrote at Google. “Not long ago simply downloading an image could take 20 or 30 seconds, and even today many websites take four or five seconds to load.

“With Instant Previews, we match your query with an index of the entire web, identify the relevant parts of each webpage, stitch them together and serve the resulting preview completely customized to your search—usually in under one-tenth of a second. Once you click the magnifying glass, we load previews for the other results in the background so you can flip through them without waiting.”

Google claims that people who use Instant Previews are 5 percent more likely to feel satisfied with the website they chose.

Google will roll out Instant Previews in 40 languages over the coming days.

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