The goal of SEO is to boost the visibility of particular websites and increase the number of visitors who find the site. Rich snippets help websites attract more attention when they appear on SERPs, catching the eye of users, so that they become more likely to click on the search result.
Google first started allowing websites to display rich snippets in 2009. According to Google, “Snippets give users convenient summary information about their search results at a glance.” These snippets are perfect for attracting the attention of users in organic SERPs.
When Google first started allowing rich snippets, many website developers saw immediate impacts on conversion rates. Since the snippets provide users with a preview of the type of content available on the website, they help to boost the click-through rates of qualified traffic. Customers click on the website with a stronger interest in what the site has to offer. This helps conversion rates and company success.
The confusing role of the video rich snippet
Google has several rich snippet options, but one that has attracted a considerable amount of attention over the past year has been the rich video snippet. When a website is marked up to let the search engine giant know that they want to promote a video, then the search result appears with a small thumbnail of a video.
Users will be drawn to the video thumbnails in the SERPs and BrightEdge custom research shows that in some positions that the CTR will be 50% higher with a video thumbnail. Users who like video are likely to click through to the site to watch the video. Videos are excellent marketing tools.
- Videos have been shown to increase a customer’s understanding of a product or service by 75 percent
- Website visitors are 64 percent more likely to make a purchase on an online retail site after watching a video
Many organizations were learning how to maximize their video offerings and taking advantage of the video rich snippet when the summer of 2014 saw a major change to the SERPs. Countless brands suddenly had their video rich snippets disappear. The entire snippet itself did not disappear as they still appeared with certain sites, such as YouTube, but they were not showing up with a marked-up page for a standard company.
After careful research and polling of different sites, it was realized that Google most likely adjusted when and where the snippet appears to ensure that it was helpful for customers.
Snippets draw attention to the websites they appear on, and Google does not want to draw attention to low-quality sites who just happened to figure out how to successfully markup their page. According to Phil Nottingham, video rich snippet changes may have been caused by a few different factors.
- The snippets were very easy to spam, since all a site needed was the correct markup, leading to a poorer user experience
- The video rich snippets were not working well on mobile devices, which have become increasingly important
- Google may want to encourage people to use their sub-menu navigation for images and videos
It is important to note that companies can still have their video rich snippets appear when a user performs a video search on Google.
For its standard search, Google seems to be focused on only providing video snippets for sites that fit the following criteria:
- The snippet is relevant to the search performed
- It must be a high-quality website
- It must be a site that is known for its videos
Unfortunately for many business websites, their lack of expertise in video production has led to the departure of video snippets for their SERPs. Companies who want to capitalize on video SEO, however, still have ways to use the rich snippets to attract visitors.
How professionals can still leverage video rich snippets
YouTube is now critically important for companies who want to use video rich snippets. As the owner of the vast majority of video rich snippets available on Google, companies who want to entice customers to come visit their site with a video must work on building their platform on YouTube. The site has more than 1 billion users and 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute. As the leader of the online video industry, YouTube has also established a video platform that makes it possible for companies to use the site to drive visitors towards conversion.
YouTube does not have a fantastic referral rate back to the company website, but it does make it significantly easier for businesses to get their content in front of prospective clients and increase visibility and brand recognition.
Videos produced for YouTube should have the following characteristics in common:
- The video can stand-along so that customers can learn from it without visiting the company site
- The video is valuable for those who are not familiar with your brand
YouTube offers companies the chance to build a professional video site where they can attract followers who are interested in what they have to say, demonstrating their expertise in the industry.
Building a successful YouTube video requires the use of keywords in the meta tags. They should be included in the description, title, and video transcript for the video. Ideally, the most important keywords should be at the beginning of the title. You should also develop custom thumbnails of the videos rather than relying on the auto-generated versions. Giving your channel an authority boost by linking between your company website and YouTube channel can also help establish credibility and boost the video rank. You should test on-screen annotations and links in the YouTube videos to increase site visits by video watchers.
Competitive SEO technology, such as that produced by BrightEdge, can help companies identify video-related target keywords where they can boost their ranking. Optimizing keyword usage can help videos rank higher both within YouTube and in organic search results.
If you want to host videos on your own website and provide the right mark-up so that the video rich snippet will at least appear in video results, it is highly recommended that you use a schema.org markup. This markup has been designed to provide a common system for Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo!
Video rich snippets have undeniable value for companies looking to attract attention to their websites, but they can be extremely difficult to obtain. Although the algorithm might adjust in the future to reduce the rich snippet domination of YouTube, for now the video powerhouse offers the best solution for companies interested in taking advantage of video snippets.