UPDATE – So, looks like Google is still playing with letting other sites show thumbnails in the SERPS. They have recently removed these thumbnails from appearing in an organic search. More to come on this as it appears they are being filtered for in google with the duplicate content filter for some reason.

We've posted lots in the past about Google's universal search initiative and the promise that it has for website video SEO. We've also posted in the past about the fact that although Youtube video thumbnails are dominant throughout the universal search results pages, other video sites are successfully showing thumbnails in the SERPs as well including Metacafe, Videojug, Ted.com, 5min.com, and others. We have even tested our own video thumbnails in Google previously to see that they do appear in Google's SERP pages, but we had not seen them appear yet in the Universal one-box results.

I am pleased to tell you that it is possible, if done properly – and We did it with our little site ;-)

Reel Success With Video Thumbails In Google Universal Search reelseo universal search 500x415 The great thing is that when a user clicks on the result, it goes to our site, to the URL with that video = http://www.reelseo.com/on2-interview-basics-codecs/.

This is an example of the power of website video SEO for hosted video content. Of course, the keyword search could be a more attractive one, like malpractice attorneys, but none-the-less.

You might be wondering if this had anything to do with the recent bug that was reported whereby sites were getting video thumbnails in Google SERPS for certain blogs. Nope, the result you see above has been steady now for several weeks and Google's Matt Cutts fixed the bug that we posted about. Besides, those were not universal one-box results and you can still see that the universal result shown above is still active when searching "online video codecs" (broad match).

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As for how to accomplish this, I recommend reading slides 23-26 of the presentation that I gave on Website Video SEO at this year's PubCon conference.

As to the number of backlinks necessary, if it requires a rating, how long it takes, etc…. Who knows?

I am still working on seeing if there is any guidance that I can provide aside from general best practices for onpage and offpage SEO.

I'm happy to answer any other questions you may have in the comments below.Of course, we can always offer you our Video SEO consulting services as well ;-) Shameless plug.

  • Sebastiaan

    Mark, When I do a search for "online video codecs" I still see your video listed on the universal SERP. However it links not to the page that has the video embedded, but directly to the video itself. Is this a change in Google or did you change your video site map?

  • RJ

    Great article. I hope the significance of video sitemaps will continue to hold for the SERPS...I think. My 1 question and 1 comment might better explain my weariness.

    Question: Is is possible to submit a video sitemap for an embedded YouTube video as oppose to a hosted video? The Google Sitemap Criteria sites that

    [A Video Sitemap should contain only URLs that refer to video content. Video content includes web pages which embed video, URLs to players for video, or the URLs of raw video content hosted on your site. If Google cannot discover video content at the URLs you provide, those records will be ignored by Googlebot.]

    The "...includes web pages, which embed video" part allows me to believe that I can create a video sitemap for an embedded video, but all articles I have come across never mention embedded video, only hosted. Please offer insight or experience.

    My comment regards the significance of video results with thumbnails and the potential harm they can cause. Scenario: My video (with no thumbnail) has a higher organic ranking then a video with a thumbnail that's found just below mine. My situation is that people looking for a video result will be more inclined to click the other video with the thumbnail, as oppose to my higher ranking video sans thumbnail--very frustrating. I hope a video sitemap can and will solve my thumbnail issues. Please, help a video out!

    Thanks in advance.