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Google testing previews of pages in search results

A new test being run by Google allows searchers to generate large previews of pages listed in search results by hovering over the link with the mouse.

Google's new preview test generates very large pages with the query text highlighted.
Google's new preview test generates very large pages with the query text highlighted. Patrick Altoft/Blogstorm

Google is testing a search results page that shows a preview of the pages generated by its algorithms.

Patrick Altoft, a search-engine optimization consultant in the U.K., spotted the test today. Some searchers on Google are seeing a search results page where some results are highlighted with a blue background, and when the searcher hovers over that result with their mouse, Google generates a preview of the page on the right side (over the ads, interestingly) that highlights the text in the original search query.

Google searchers can already refine their searches to generate results with page previews through the "search options" panel on the left-hand side of the search results page, but those previews are much smaller and aren't automatically generated by a hover, like the ones spotted by Altoft. Search Engine Land notes that and Microsoft's Bing have offered similar preview options in the past.

Just because Google tests something easily spotted by the search community doesn't mean it will arrive soon for everyone, but those tests aren't red herrings, either. Google Instant was spotted in the wild a few weeks before it went live, as was also the case with the massive search-results page redesign that Google rolled out earlier this year.