Google Instant Previews – Preview Not Available

This helps to explain those “Preview Not Available” messages …

Google’s new addition to it search engine, Instant Previews, is getting lots of press since its introduction. Google claims the new feature adds 5% to the search engine users satisfaction, others do not like the feature at all and want to disable it (see How To Disable Google Instant Previews for that).

If you have used the feature you may have stumbled upon search results with no preview images. The message “preview not available” appeared instead when moving the mouse over the search results entry. A lot of those sites did not have the spyglass icon next to them as well, which acts as a further indicator that no preview image is available.

But why are there sites with no preview image? The main reason for the preview not available error message is the safe search setting. Google sets safe search to moderate for all users by default which filters explicit images. The effect previously was mostly visible in Google’s Image search engine where the majority of explicit images were filtered from the search results.

Google has carried that over to Google Instant Previews, so that the preview not available is displayed for explicit website snapshots.

This can be tested by clicking on search settings at the top right of the Google Search page and switching from “Use moderate filtering (Filter explicit images only – default behavior)” to “Do not filter my search results” under SafeSearch Filtering.

safe search filtering

Many preview not available messages show the screenshot of the web page afterwards. The page may need to be reloaded before the changes become visible in Google Search.

Google may also have not had time to process some of the websites in the search results. This is usually indicated by a missing spyglass next to the result.

instant previews no spyglass

What’s your take on Google Instant Previews so far? Let us know in the comments.


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