In April 2023, Google changed how video thumbnails are presented in their search results… again. Now, only pages with a video as the main content appear with a thumbnail in Google search.
So how should you change your video SEO strategy to ensure that your page shows up as a video snippet in Google search results?
Short answer: Make the video the main content of your page. The good news is that you can easily accomplish this by adding video galleries to your website.
Read on for the long answer.
A video rich snippet is an organic Google search result that appears with the following video metadata:
- Video title
- Page URL
- Meta description
- Video thumbnail
Including this metadata in your video embed, along with structured data using schema.org markup, is your ticket to getting your page to show up as a video snippet in Google search. Or you can just host your video on Wistia because the platform takes care of all that for you.
Google will only show a search result with a video thumbnail when the video is the main content of that page.
To get your page to appear as a video snippet in search results, make sure that:
- The video is the main content and is placed at the top of your page.
- Your video contains metadata and rich structured data.
- The page contains minimal text, images, and other media content.
Search results that appear as part of a video pack (without longer descriptive text) will also appear as video snippets.
Google won’t show a video thumbnail in search results when the video is not the main content of a page. This means the page might contain a significant amount of text, images, and other media besides the video.
Pages previously appearing in Google search with video thumbnails might now simply appear as a universal search result. Product pages, blog posts, feature pages, and guides could all lose a video snippet.
Despite losing video thumbnails in search results, these pages will still rank. Their ranking positions are unlikely to have been directly affected by Google’s recent changes. These now appear as standard universal results without the video snippet.
Results in Google video search have not been affected by this change. The change is only related to the universal web search results. Any page type can still rank with snippets in video search with the proper metadata and prominence.
According to Google, only pages where the main content is a video will display video thumbnails in search results. Consequently, Google has removed video snippets from pages where the video isn’t the main focus.
They claim that video snippets have little impact on engagement and click-through rates. So it makes sense for Google to make this change to improve the user experience.
It’s likely that Google only wants to show video snippets for pages with optimal video placement and prominence within the content. That way, users who click on a video snippet expecting to watch a video can easily find and watch it.
In the future, Google might introduce new or updated types of video snippets to account for instances where video plays an important but secondary role on a page, like with some feature pages or blog posts.
The best tool to determine the impact of video snippets on your website is Google Search Console. In the “Search results” report, you can filter the data by search appearance. For video snippets, choose “Videos” as your search appearance.
Going as far back as April 11, 2023, you may see a sharp drop off in impressions and clicks for video results, as you can see in this example:
If you open the “Pages” tab in this report and compare the data before and after April 11, 2023, you can see the precise pages that have been impacted by the change.
If you’re curious to know whether Google considers a page to have sufficiently prominent video content that’s eligible for indexation (at least in video search), you can simply hop into the Google Search Console and check out the “Video pages” report.
Any pages that are flagged as “Google could not determine the prominent video on the page” have issues where either the video is too far below the fold, too small, or loads too slowly.
Here’s a quick pulse check on the impact that you might be seeing:
The first thing to do is assess the damage. If your traffic overall hasn’t dropped since April 2023, then you may be in the clear. In that case, the video snippets in universal search likely weren’t making a big difference to the click-through rates, so no action is needed.
If you are negatively impacted and losing traffic, take some time to follow the steps to get video snippets to appear again for your search results.
If you see video snippets in universal search as a possible route to generating further traffic, you may want to consider creating a video gallery, which can contain exclusively video-focused pages that will meet Google’s stricter criteria for receiving snippets.
Luckily, we have a tool that allows you to do this without requiring any further development or coding: Wistia Channels.
Wistia Channels is optimized to Google’s recommendations for video page types. You can embed a Channel on any webpage to instantly turn it into a beautiful video gallery.
Using generated parameters, Wistia Channels then creates indexable URLs for each of your videos. This means your videos have a chance to show up in video boxes when people search the web or browse through video search results.
Wistia Channels provides users with an interactive playlist where they can watch all videos of a single type in succession, should they choose to. So you could create a different page for each type of video you have to increase watchability.
Because Wistia Channels allows viewers to watch videos outside of the context of the page they initially landed on, Google can rank your website in web search video results AND Google video search! That way, you can drive the most traffic to your website with video.