Google is Testing mini “Thumbnails” in the Search Results

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 What are Thumbnail images?

They are small preview images, either in GIF or PNG format, which show the content of the home page or of another page of a website as very small images: images that, we will see, have great potential in increasing conversions to the website of origin.

The dimensions of these images vary depending on the platform: for example, to create a thumbnail for the desktop version of Google Image Search, a size of 175 pixels is recommended. 

Amazon uses different thumbnail sizes depending on the field of application: 200 pixels for the homepage, while the image preview on the category pages is of 150 pixels.

The size of desktop thumbnails on YouTube is 210×118 pixels on the homepage, while for the suggestions that appear on the playing video,168 x 94 pixels thumbnails are used.

What are the Advantages of Using Thumbnails?

The main advantages related to the use of this image format are summarized below:

File dimensions and loading times are reduced: thanks to the small size, the preview allows to present users an overview of the website content without increasing the page loading time, fundamental for good user experience on mobile.

·    Comprehension: the images are by nature more immediate and comprehensible compared to text contents. Thanks to the use of thumbnails users can understand better and navigate faster around a website. 

·  Interactivity: thumbnails invite users to interact with the website, typically by clicking on the preview, therefore increasing the conversion rate of the website.

Where are Thumbnails Displayed?

Usually, thumbnails are generated automatically by search engines and by the image managing and elaboration software.

Google uses miniatures in image research (Google Images) to present users a higher amount of images at the same time. By clicking on one of the preview images, it is possible to get more information and get redirected to the website of origin.

However, since a few weeks ago, Google is testing the use of thumbnails in other search contexts, so not only in the image search but also in the results of organic searches (SERP) and the drop-down menu in Google Suggest.

The miniature images used by Google are square cropped versions of the main image of articles. Not all websites show a preview in the SERP, as it can be noticed in the following image.

It is very difficult to explain the reason why Google does not show some previews in the organic search results. An explanation confirmed by some tests indicates how discriminant for the preview is that the image is included in the structural data of the website or in the meta tag Open Graph Protocol.

According to the Search Engine Journal, the Thumbnail format seems to be working well on Google News. It is possible that this type of search result will soon become mainstream if the tests conducted by Google will confirm the level of appreciation by users.

The Impact of Thumbnail Images on Your Business

Enabling this format allows to improve user experience as before clicking one can preview the contents. Also, as can be seen in the example below, if a webpage without thumbnail is put next to competitors with thumbnail, the user may click on the page with one. 

Thus, it would be beneficial to check if your website has correctly implemented the Graph Protocol and/ or the JSON-LD Structured Data, to be prepared and make the most of the potential of this format.

Are you looking for a way to optimize your contents to help boost the success of your business in Google organic search? Contact us now, or check out our SEO Consulting service page. 

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