Google tests sub-images in search result snippets for sitel…

Google is testing a new search result snippet in the mobile search results that shows image thumbnails not just for the main snippet but also for the sitelinks. This change was surfaced by CNBC, which published their experience going to an internal search quality meeting at Google.

Based on the screen shot below, Google is showing images in the sitelinks carousel next to each sitelink button. Google has shown images in snippets for some time, but we’ve never seen them in the sitelinks before.

How did this come about? CNBC sat in the internal Google meeting, which Google has done before, where the search giant showed this example of showing images in the search results. The meeting showed how they used data to make the decision of whether they should launch the feature or not.

“The data ultimately showed that 91 percent of the time, raters found that image results were useful. In the live experiment, real users clicked through the pictures, too,” Google told CNBC. Google normally takes a data approach to these new user interface tests, and if the data says the test is worth trying, they will make the change available to all searchers.

Why should you care? If Google does begin showing images for sitelinks, webmasters and SEOs should begin to see how Google can determine which image goes toward which sitelink. Search marketers will want to make sure the images are accurate, representative of the content and something searchers want to click on.

For what it’s worth: We don’t see this new feature live yet. It may go live, Google may decide to show it to a subset of users, or it may be that Google never really pushes it live for awhile. In addition, if it does go live for all searchers, Google may at a later date decide to remove the feature. So any work you put toward “optimizing” for image sitelinks could be for nothing.

Try it out on a few pages and see what happens.

About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.

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