According to Google Operating System, Google is testing larger thumbnails for news results. This may not seem like a big deal, but it kinda is. Because it’s not just the photo that’s changing, it’s where the title lands that is important. Have a look.
This is what you see if you search for a news story using the “Web” tab.
There’s one small photo in line with the top story, followed by additional links. Above the is a general topic link that sends you to the “News” tab.
Now, Google figures you’re interested enough to add this term to your Google News Homepage. That link lands on top. The small thumbnail drops and you get the summary text for each link. Notice that even though I clicked directly from one to the other, the results are different. Also, the photo from The Independent shows up next to the Forbes story and The Independent story drops out of the top three. The Dating notations are also different. The initial results counts in “days ago,” the news specific results lists actual published dates.
This is the first time I’ve looked at this level of detail. . . I’m fascinated.
Now, here’s the test :
Photo from Google Operating System Blog
Not only is the photo much larger but they’ve removed the general news link at the top of the results. Now the first link leads you right to the article. That’s a huge difference. A study by Compete shows that 53% of people click on the first link in the results. Now, maybe most are trained to skip the general link and go to the actual first result but I’m not sold on that. I’d bet that having your article link show up as the top rail above a bigger photo would result in more traffic to your page.
Link layout aside, I like the larger photo. But then that could be because it’s the only way I can see the photos without my glasses!
What do you think? Can a small change like this result in more or less traffic? Or are web surfers savvy enough to ignore the shift?