On June 15th, 2018, Google made a large change to desktop Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for those search queries that used to trigger video thumbnails. Where previously mainly seen only when searching from a smart phone, Google has now replaced those results with ones that display the video carousel.

In the example “LeBron James,” the first 3 cards of the new desktop video carousel have no YouTube pages. The example “baby tv songs and rhymes” shows the new desktop video carousel with first 3 cards all YouTube pages but also a non-YouTube ranking page with the original video thumbnail on the same search results page.

Here are some findings from an analysis done by Rank Ranger on the video carousel replacing the thumbnails:

  1. YouTube saw a 62% visibility loss as a result of the migration.
    1. Where the average rank of a YouTube URL did not change significantly, what has changed how often a YouTube URL ranks on p. 1.
  2. Video thumbnails that used to show up on ~10% now are on just 0.8% of all p. 1 SERPs but the rest of the ranking pages have mostly now been placed in the new video carousel.
  3. Keywords that did not previously trigger video thumbnails now trigger the new desktop video carousel to the tune of 40% more SERPs.

These are the key takeaways from that data:

  1. Google is no longer (completely) biased towards YouTube videos so there is even more incentive to get an edge on competitors.
    1. Investing in the labor for video SEO including hosting a video player on site will only add authority to your domain
    2. There is opportunity for greater exposure and organic traffic with the video carousel vs the previous smaller thumbnails:
      1. The carousels are normally at the top of the search results and each placement contains a large image that naturally draws attention and bound to get a much higher Click Through Rate (CTR).
      2. Attaining placement in the carousel is independent of the exact ranking in the “regular” results below, similar to Featured Snippets. i.e., don’t have to be #1 to be in the carousel.
      3. Rank Ranger data shows about 8.5 cards per carousel on average.
  2. 78% of over 10K sampled search queries that trigger a video carousel resulted in only 8 organic listings in the “regular” results.
    1. It no longer can be presumed that breaking into the top 10 gets a website onto p.1 of Google’s SERPs but now sites have to work harder to rank #8 to break into p.1 for those queries that trigger the new desktop video carousel
  3. Because the video carousel does not preclude the thumbnails from appearing on the same search results, implementing SEO tactics to attain video thumbnails should not be de-prioritized including adding Rich Snippets Semantic Markup (Schema).
  4. Just like with the “regular” results, for the greatest gains, aiming to rank in the first 3 video carousel cards gives the website the highest traffic with an expected much higher Click Through Rate (CTR).

In summary, this is another big Google change on desktop SERPs for those keyword phrases that formerly surfaced video thumbnails with essentially replacing most of them with the new video carousel. It both offers greater opportunity and places greater importance on ensuring that one’s website is fully optimized for video SEO to take advantage of it.

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