Google Prefetch Will Autoload Some Results

Google released a new feature today for Firefox and Mozilla users that allows them to “prefetch” the first result from a serp into their browser even before clicking the result link. If you’re interested in trying this out, it’s an easy tweak. You’ll find the instructions here.

The Google FAQ also includes this important piece of info:

With prefetching enabled, you may end up with cookies and web pages in your web browser’s cache from web sites that you did not click on since prefetching happens automatically when you view Google search results pages. You can delete these files by clearing your browser’s cache and cookies.

Webmasters will want to take a look at this info about how prefetch pages will be noted in user logs since a prefetched page doesn’t necessarily mean the page is actually viewed.

The article: Google enhances search for Firefox users, has more including comments from a few people about problems that prefetching pages might cause.

Prefetching content is not a new idea. In fact, a couple of months ago Browster, a plug-in that prefectches pages, received lots of buzz and press attention.

Most things that can save the user time are good ideas in my book. The only issue I have with prefetching only the first result is that many times the first result isn’t the best result. However, due to the
“principal of least effort” users take what they can get quickly (prefetching makes it even faster) without looking at other and possibly better results.

Btw, while we’re talking about Google and a new service for Firefox, Philipp reports that yet another Firefox developer is now on the Google payroll.

Want to discuss? Join our forum thread, Google Prefetching for Mozilla Browsers.

Postscript: See also some further discussion with Google comments in this WebmasterWorld thread: Google Enables FireFox Prefetching.

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