The past few months have been an interesting time for video in the search results, with Google making changes to it’s algorithm that have had a massive effect on the way these video results are handled.
All these changes impact the handling of rich snippets, and change the way that video is used as part of an SEO strategy.
For those of you who don’t know what rich snippets are, they are simply an expanded search result listing designed to provide more information about the target page, whether it’s reviews, recipe details, or video thumbnails. You’ve probably seen results like these before
To create these listings, search engines require you to add markup to your website, to provide them with the specific details, such as the thumbnail, or review scores.
This quick video sums it up nicely if you’re still confused:
Now this isn’t a post to take you through how to add rich snippets to your videos. For those of you looking for help There’s plenty of resources available to help you do this (here’s a good place to start).
What we’re going to be looking at is some of the recent changes to video results, and how this affects you with regards to rich snippets and placing markup on your videos.
So whats been going on?
Up until recently, rich snippets we’re great for video marketers looking to increase exposure in the search results.
By embedding a video on a page and adding the markup, you could turn your regular listing into a rich snippet, making it stand out on the page and increasing the chances for it to be clicked on.
But Google changed the rules
In July this year, there was a change in the search results that showed a massive drop in the amount of video snippets that were returned in the search results.
According to this Wistia post, the algorithm seems to have changed to favour big brands that have a focus on video. To quote:
“A common thread here seems to be major “media” outlets, devoted mostly or exclusively to video content.”
A look at their report on the most frequent snippet domains, shows the top 20 dominate over 97.5% of the rankings, with YouTube accounting for 91.957% of them!
Wiped off the map
So with this change, Google has effectively wiped out the rich snippets of the vast majority of other sites out there, choosing to “whitelist” bigger, more trustworthy sites.
Not to mention the fact that this change means plenty more traffic sent through to YouTube.
So How Does This Affect Video Marketers?
It all still boils down to understanding the purpose behind your video, and further solidifies the reasons for choosing to go in either direction.
Branding and Visibility
If you’re main focus is on video views, social reach and visibility in the search results – YouTube is the way to go. If you want to get a rich snippet in the search results, then by far the best way is to use YouTube to host your video.
SEO and Conversions
If, on the other hand the main aim for your video is to drive conversions on the site and improve your overall SEO, then you’re much better off privately hosting your video on your website.
Sure you’ll be missing out on all the views a YouTube listing in the search results will be driving, but only a very small percentage of YouTube traffic would actually result in clicks through to your website.
Best of Both Worlds
Of course, there’s always the option to do both of these things, hosting the video privately on your site while also uploading it to YouTube for increased exposure in the search results. But this doesn’t come without risks.
Due to Google’s favouritism when it comes to YouTube results, putting your video on both of these sites can cause cannibalisation of your traffic. If your YouTube result outranks your main result this actually end up having a negative effect on your organic traffic. This is because YouTube rarely drives more than 1% of views through to the original site.
So this tactic should be approached with caution, on a small scale before making any large scale changes. This great post from Phil Nottingham (http://moz.com/blog/video-seo-post-rich-snippets) at Moz goes into detail about how to decide on the best approach to take.
The Domination of Youtube
As we can see from the recent changes, YouTube is now by far the most important channel when it comes to gaining exposure in the search results and increasing video views.
If you weren’t using it before, it’s about time you get started.