Algo Change Alert: Video Snippets Decline Steeply, But Video Can Still Play a Significant Role in Content Mix

In the summer of 2014, the SEO industry noticed video snippets in the search engine results pages (SERPs) were greatly reduced, only leaving those of select big brands and videos from YouTube, Google’s video-sharing platform. In this post, we’ll talk a little bit about what happened and how to target the right searcher at the right time as well as drive brand visibility.

Universal Search: A Brief Intro

Google’s Universal Search, aka “blended search” launched in 2007, pulls in data from multiple information and asset databases to display on the SERP.

In Google, Universal Search results can include

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Maps and local information
  • News stories

The following screenshot breaks down some of the areas you can expect to see in the Universal Search results:

Universal Search Now that marketers have the ability to create rich media with imagery and video, having an SEO plan strictly for text content is not enough. We recommend your SEO strategy take into account all types of content including images, video and text. And, we believe YouTube can help you drive more brand awareness, eventually leading to conversions and brand loyalty.

Video and Universal Search Results

Back in September 2014, BrightEdge CEO Jim Yu discussed findings of a recent study we conducted on the performance of Universal Search results against the standard text results (10 blue links + descriptions).

We wanted to figure out if rich media outperformed the classic results. So we turned to our massive data repository, the BrightEdge Data Cube, to pull a sample of data for six months for all available queries.

In some instances, we found the click-through rate (CTR) of video to outperform that of text, especially when a video listing was in Position 2 (CTR = approximately 20 percent) versus the classic text results in Position 2 (CTR = approximately 12 percent).

From the study:

Video Snippets in SERPs

Changes to Universal Search Video Results in July 2014

Starting in July 2014, we saw a dramatic decline in the number and diversity of videos displayed in Universal Search results dropping 5-fold from 20% to 4%. We found that Google no longer showed video snippets in SERPs from most except a few big brands and YouTube.

The BrightEdge Data Cube Universal Search report illustrates the decline in video thumbnails, shown in green, in the SERP results.

Data Cube Results

Others in the SEO world were talking about this change, too. In this post by AJ Kohn of Blind Five Year Old, he takes a deep dive into the specifics of the rich snippet algorithm, quality signals and more.

This data in July 2014 from Wistia shows the result after the change similar to what BrightEdge found, where 87% of SERPs had no video results:

Wistia Data Video SERPsSo, What Does This Mean for Your Brand?

This change does not mean you should give up on a video strategy nor does it mean you should abandon a plan for optimizing your videos. Keep the following in mind:

  • If your customers convert on your website, you can still use YouTube to build brand awareness and pull people into your website from there. Continue to make content that your audience engages with, and that will eventually lead to conversions for your business on your website.
  • You can optimize your videos to be found on the YouTube platform itself, too. Review these video optimization tips on our blog from Andy Betts.

There are countless brands using YouTube to drive awareness while still selling their product. Check out the GoPro channel on YouTube as a great example. This action camera company shows just how versatile its camera can be while still appealing to its target audience:

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3 Tips for Marketing with YouTube

What are some additional ways to drive marketing and SEO initiatives using YouTube? Here are three tips:

  • Treat YouTube like a social network. Make videos specifically for the YouTube channel, where people are primarily searching for entertainment and education, rather than treating it as a dumping ground for all of your video content.
  • Use different keywords for YouTube versus your website video. In situations where your videos need to be placed on both your website and your YouTube channel, target different keywords for each instance of the video, so you don’t end up with the YouTube video snippet cannibalizing clicks to your site from the SERPs.
  • Try YouTube for the long-tail keywords and video content. There are tons of keywords related to your industry but not necessarily connected directly with your products. Consider making video content around these keywords and see if you can get some traction directly on YouTube channel.

How the BrightEdge Data Cube Can Help with Video SEO

As a customer of BrightEdge, you can use the industry’s largest search data set, the BrightEdge Data Cube, to find keywords that any domain is ranking for.

This is great for analysis of what topics are performing for your site, as well as a competitive analysis, too.

You can perform video keyword discovery by researching related keywords with the BrightEdge Data Cube and 1) Look at the Universal Search results of your own domain to see videos that used to rank with snippets and no longer do, and 2) Look at and filter to keywords that apply to your business. These insights will help you determine where your domain lost rank and you will need to use a strategy including YouTube and find additional topical gap opportunities to work towards on YouTube.

Despite algo changes, video marketing continues to drive results for brands. Innovative marketing teams and SEOs using the BrightEdge platform have to work together to maximize the exposure and engagement video can generate. As part of an integrated marketing campaign, the video medium should always be on the table as a way to reach your target customer at the right time in the sales funnel.


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