Over the next few days Google is rolling out a new search feature called "Instant Preview".

What is Instant Preview?

Using Instant Preview, anyone searching Google has the option to see a popup preview of what each website looks like as they move their mouse over the search result, without leaving the page. This means that a potential visitor will be able to get an idea of how your website looks before they even click through to your site!

For the first time, the way your website looks is going to have a big impact on the number of visitors you can expect from Google.

The Good

If you've got a great looking website and you happen to have a highly-ranking competitor who has a website which doesn't look so good... well it might not matter so much if your website doesn't rank as highly as theirs does.

The Bad

On the flipside, though, if your website doesn't look as good as it could then you might lose out on clicks as your visitors are turned off by the preview of your site and head for a competitor with a better looking website.

The Ugly

The preview of your website only shows text and images - not animations. If you have a full Flash website - or a lot of the graphic elements of your website use Flash - the preview of your site will be nothing but a big grey box!

Flash websites can look stunning - but they've never performed well in Search Engines, and are unusable on iPads and iPhones. With Google Instant Preview on the way, it's never been more important to keep Flash to what it's good for - animations and videos - and stick with text and images for the important elements of your website.

If your website is looking a bit dated, or was built using Adobe Flash, it's probably a good time to think about getting a new look.

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