Ever been annoyed by seeing not-so-great websites gain more traffic than your brilliant website, because they rank higher in organic search results? Well, thanks to the mid-November introduction of Google Instant Previews, a feature that allows Google search engine users to preview websites before visiting them, superb SEO might not be enough for a website to gain high traffic from its rank at the top of Google’s search engine results page (SERP).

As a result, two changes in the world of search are apparent: (1) content on websites will become more important for gaining traffic and the impact of SEO will be limited, and (2) online advertisers may see a decline in the effectiveness of their AdWords ads that are displayed in SERPs.

With the ability to now preview a website before visiting it, users can bypass websites that they are not looking for. For the most part, the decision to not click on a website would likely be attributable to the website’s design. A site that is ranked seventh or eight on a SERP and has an attractive design would more likely be clicked on than one that is ranked first and has an unattractive design.
Google AdWords ads have also been affected, because they are located on the right side of the SERP and are hidden by the preview, which opens in the same location. With the Adwords ads hidden by the preview, advertisers may see a decrease in the click-through rates (CTR) of their pay per click (PPC) ads. As you can see in the image below, the preview of Atomic Design and Consulting’s email marketing page (ranked both #1 and #2 for the search terms “Dallas email marketing”) hides the AdWords ads on the right side of the SERP.

It has long been said that once a user lands on a website, great content ultimately keeps the new visitor on the website and converts him/her into a repeat visitor. Now having great content can also attract more traffic to a website regardless of where it ranks in SERPs. Nevertheless, ranking on the first SERP is still better than ranking on the second, as is ranking on the second instead of the third, and so on. Therefore, SEO is still very important.

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