Search Metrics has recently released its annual white paper on universal search results in Google U.S search results with some interesting findings.
What is Universal Search?
First, a quick detour to explain universal search for those who don’t know. Universal search is the blending of Google’s different search products.
An example of this is shown below. The areas marked in black are the standard organic results. In red are results which are taken from Google News search, and in blue are results from video search. On the right is the knowledge graph which gives information about entities. Inside this, marked in yellow, are results taken from Google image search.
Back to the Main Topic
With this being a video marketing blog we won’t focus on all the findings of the study but have picked out some of the findings which are the most interesting for the video marketing community.
This is a statistic about how often a particular universal search integration appears. In other words the percentage of search terms which have one or more universal results.
Last year the proportion of results pages which displayed at least one universal search integration increased from 75% to 81%, this happened in a large part due to an increase in the proportions for video and shopping integrations.
The proportion of search results pages which contained at least one video increased from 58% to 65% over the year. This can be seen in the chart below from the white paper.
Number of Individual Videos
Although the number of search results with one or more videos has increased, the total number of individual videos has fallen.
The graph below shows an interesting mirroring effect with shopping integrations. It seems that some screen space which was taken up by videos has had to be reduced to occupy Google’s product listing adverts.
There are a lot fewer individual videos than there are images. This is likely due to both the number of images there are out there and how easy it is to insert a large number of images into a search result where it might not be useful to do this with videos.
YouTube vs The Competition
YouTube has seen a large decrease in its proportional share of video integrations. Although, as can be seen in the graph below, YouTube still shows more videos than the rest of its competitors combined.
This is not necessarily a sign that Google is favouring its own. YouTube is a much larger site than all of its competitors, it is only natural that it would be more likely to have videos which are a better match to the search query.
However, the next graph seems to show that a video on YouTube is more likely to rank higher in the results pages than a video hosted by one of its competitors.
Be careful with jumping to conclusions with the these figures. Correlation does not imply causation. Just because YouTube is higher on results pages does not necessarily mean that the same video hosted on two different platforms will rank higher.
It is difficult to draw conclusions from this graph as there are many reasons why this could be the case. It could be that Google has more data about the videos on YouTube and so is able to make a more accurate judgement on how useful it would be for the user. However, this is not necessarily the case.
So, it seems that in general video is becoming useful for more searches, while at the same time Google is narrowing down the amount of videos per search. This could be in indication that Google is getting better at finding the correct video for a searcher’s needs rather than giving a selection in the hope that one of them will be the correct one.
This also shows that Google is trying harder to incorporate more videos in its searchers through other video providers rather than almost exclusively showing YouTube videos.
All graphs were taken from the search metrics repport