Google’s search engine result pages have been undergoing frequent and significant changes of late. Authorship photos have virtually disappeared, changes to local packs and in-depth articles have been noted and results, information and visuals from Google+ are continuing to infiltrate our personal SERPs. Last month, another result-related bombshell was dropped. The volume of video snippets present in SERPs – previously a prevalent feature – dropped by a substantial amount. The graph below from Moz outlines the recent drop in video snippets. The overwhelming majority of sites lost 100% of video results. Recent research by Wistia shows us that there are a few big names still showing them, the most notable of which include:
These winners are sites that specialise solely in video content. In contrast, those which have lost out to this update contain a mixture of rich content throughout their domain. Even the very large publishers, such as Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Moz etc., saw their snippets vanish. Despite claiming that its sole focus is the experience of its users, Google has again come out of this update in a gleefully strong position and, as we could have expected, the site that still shows by far the largest number of video snippets is YouTube – a huuuuge traffic winner! The graph below, from Wistia, shows us from which domains the most video snippets are shown.
What are the reasons behind this change?
As always, Google has been far from transparent but there are a few theories floating around the elite search-marketing circles: 1) Making YouTube by far the largest source of video snippets will increase traffic to YouTube, Google’s secondary search engine. This will in turn tempt more publishers to post more content there and subsequently allow Google to rake in revenue through advertisements. 2) Removing videos from the main results will encourage people to use the tabbed video search more frequently (see below). This provides Google with more accurate information regarding ‘search intention’ and helps them better understand which queries are suited to which media. 3) It could be argued that video snippets, sporadically scattered throughout web-search results, harmed user experience. They often rendered poorly on mobile devices, taking up too much search real estate. Considering the rise in number of mobile users this should be considered a significant factor. In many cases, rich-snippet optimisation was also quite easy to manipulate and there were many poor or irrelevant videos being returned for unlikely queries. This was just another form of black-hat SEO/spamming that had to be stamped out.
How will this affect our video marketing strategy?
The most significant thing to keep in mind with this change is that YouTube has become an even more invaluable SEO tool. Video snippets still draw the eye and have a higher click-through rate than text results; therefore, creating strong YouTube content that ranks in search is an extremely valuable technique for owning Google SERP real estate and squeezing out competitors.
- Acquiring Google Real Estate
A strong YouTube strategy will allow you to take up multiple spots in search results for relevant queries. Having YouTube results alongside those of your site will instill confidence that you are the most relevant and authoritative brand for that search term. This is even more effective if you rack up a few Google+-post appearances for the same queries. The example below (search query: ‘Whiteboard Friday’) shows Moz returning strong results through YouTube, Moz.com and Google+. Despite the term being heavily associated with that brand, this is a clear example to demonstrate how powerful dominating SERPs can be.
- Utilising YouTube’s Audience
Phil Nottingham, the senior video marketing consultant at Distilled, claims that YouTube is essential for any big-brand marketing strategy in 2014. With over 1 billion unique visitors each month, it is a hub of exposure that should not be ignored. However, since videos uploaded here send minimal traffic to your domain (the majority of viewers will stay on YouTube rather than visiting your site), this channel should be used for brand exposure and marketing. With this in mind, videos designed for this purpose must have independent value and make sense without your on-site content for context.
Should I still host videos on my domain?
While undoubtedly gaining far less exposure than those placed on YouTube, videos hosted on your site carry value in different ways.
- Videos are great for encouraging conversions. A potential customer who watches a product review video is twice as likely to convert and spends, on average, 9.1% more money than those who don’t.
- Original videos that secure engagement and buzz are likely to generate traffic and links to your domain.
- Having a variety of rich media on your site is rewarded by Google and provides a better user experience. Metrics such as time on site and bounce rate are becoming increasingly important in Google’s ranking system.
With our current hunger for rich media and addiction to videos, a strong video marketing strategy is as important as ever. Google’s update changes little with regards to video creation and syndication. As always, your strategy should be decided by your goals. For more information about an effective video-marketing strategy in 2014, do get in touch to discuss the approach most suitable for your brand.