Google frequently updates Search by optimizing rankings and adding new features. The latest involves image thumbnails alongside a Google Search result on mobile to help users determine whether they want to click on a page.
Noted by CNBC this morning, Google Search recently added a new format to help users better determine whether a search result is correct. Notably, this is separate from the image usually included on Knowledge Panel cards and other carousels.
This new format applies to the standard 10 blue links of results. For example, a query for bears would likely surface a Wikipedia article. That result now includes the primary image on the page and displays it in the top-right corner of that card underneath the page title.
Besides animals or other encyclopedia-like entries, many other searches on Google now feature an image. This includes news articles, bands, media, and products. With the latter, stores will include a thumbnail of the product being solid. Not all results will feature included images, but a majority do in our brief testing.
Overall, it’s a very useful change, with Google research finding that the feature was considered useful 91% of the time by users. The CNBC piece more broadly delved into the company’s decision-making process behind every Google Search tweak. In this case, the positive user feedback trumped the increase in latency and loading speed due to the added images.
The publication was able to sit in during an internal meeting where the company’s executives, including Google Search vice president Ben Gnomes, discussed approving features and the data it collects from a sample before any feature is approved.
In 2017, Google ran 31,584 side-by-side experiments with its raters and subsequently launched 2,453 search changes.
Google has 10,000 search raters around the world than can provide opinions in addition to the standard A/B test where a small subset of users see the feature live ahead of time. One recent test involved the Material Theme redesign of Google Search on the web.