Last week, Nate Elliot at Forrester published an interesting blog post titled, "The Easiest Way to a First-Page Ranking on Google.” In his post, Nate discloses the results of a study/experiment that they conducted whereby a series of popular keyword searches were run on the major search engines and the number of video results that were displayed were compared to that of regular HTML documents and organic results (text results). The results of the study indicated that on Google, an indexed video stands about a 50 times greater chance of ranking on the first page of results than any given textual page in the index.
Not only are video results increasingly common in Google's search results, but your videos stand a much better chance than your text pages of being shown on the first results page.”
In the experiment, they created a list of the top 40 most popular search queries and executed queries across Google.us, Google.uk, MSN.uk, and Yahoo.uk. At MSN and Yahoo, most of the searches that they performed only returned standard web textual organic results. However, with Google, a large majority of keyword searches that were completed resulted in a universal search one-box whereby non-standard organic search results are displayed (images, videos, news, blogs, etc…). In the US, more than 50% of the searches that were ran returned blended results and in the UK, more than 66% returned blended results. As we've reported before, videos tend to make up a large portion of the non-standard results of universal search and Forrester confirms this finding in their study.
When looking specifically at result sets on Google, they found the following:
On the keywords for which video results were offered, an average of 16,000 videos were competing to appear on results pages which contained an average of 1.5 video results/page. This means that each video had roughly a 11,000-to-1 chance of ranking on the first page of results. In comparison, for non-standard html results, there were an average of 4.7 million results competing for a spot on results pages with an average of 9.4 text results per page, or a 500,000-to-1 chance of appearing on the first page of results. If you compare the likelihood of a video result appearing on the homepage with that of a standard HTML result, indexed videos have roughly 50 times greater chance of ranking on the first page.
Now, there are a few qualifications I should mention
We don't know the methodology that was used when counting the number of video results that are displayed. With that in mind, there are several caveats to mention:
- First, the probability of showing up for any individual term is not uniform across all the "possible" elements in the selected results set. Furthermore, with content filtering, although Google may display "Results 1 – 10 of about 48,400,000 for video seo," you will notice that they will only display a small subset of these searches to users (in the example "video seo" – there are 904 results). Again, because we don't know the methodology, it is possible that the overall numbers are skewed. It is also possible that Forrester measured these results in a way that enabled them to truly measure the complete results' set. Perhaps they turned off the content filter in each case…. We are awaiting clarification.
- Secondly, it is not clear whether or not the video results that were measured included both video results appearing in Google's "one-box" as well as results that were returned in Google's universal "blended" search results. For those of you that are unsure of what this means, the universal search one-box results are the results whereby you will see a heading of "Video Results" and 2 video results horizontally displayed.
- Lastly, we don't know if Forrester measured the amount of video results which are served without thumbnails at all. Nate mentioned that most all of the videos that they found were videos hosted on Youtube. That, combined with the fact that it must be incredibly difficult to ascertain if a result served without a thumbnail is a video, it is my assumption that the measurements were for videos that appeared with thumbnails, both within and outside of the one-box results. That being the case, we know that there are tons of indexed video URLs out there that do not currently have thumbnails and so this could also skew the results.
What does all this mean?
While we certainly think that this is an interesting study, there are several factors with regard to the methodology used that remain in question. As a result, I don't think that it is accurate to state that there is a greater than 50X chance of ranking on the first page for Google. However, the overall conclusion that online video is an effective method to get first page Google rankings IS in-line with the experience that we have enjoyed.
If you simply compare the number of HTML documents available across the internet with that of available video content, it is clear that there is far more html content available. However, as we stated previously, the probability of showing up for any individual search term is not uniform across all the "possible" elements that Google selects from. And, because search engines are not as good at understanding video content, videos on their own do not posses a tremendous advantage in terms of indexability in the first place.
Because we dont know the methodology for counting video results, and because the vast majority of results counted were from Youtube, we cant draw any conclusions when it comes to "hosted" video content at this point. Videos hosted on Youtube, and other video sharing websites, do enjoy an advantage in that these sites have a pre-established page rank and authority to begin with. Videos hosted at these sites can often be optimized for first page rankings by merely optimizing a given video's title. And, because universal search results at this point in time are heavily biased towards Youtube videos, videos hosted through Youtube enjoy an additional advantage when it comes to first page rankings.
All-in-all, while we question the methodology (purely because we arent aware of it =), video search optimization is without a doubt, an important and an effective tool for gaining maximum visibility for your online assets. Additionally, it is clear that optimized video content does enjoy an advantage over textual results when it comes to ranking at the top of search results on Google.
What does this mean for Internet marketers?
"Best of all, so few interactive marketers focus on video optimization that most of the videos in Google's index aren't very well optimized — so if you optimize your videos well, your chances of success will increase even further.”
We know that many video content owners and internet marketers are not taking full advantage of video search engine optimization techniques. According to Nate, less than 20 percent of internet marketers insert keywords into the filenames for their videos and even fewer are utilizing advanced video SEO tactics.
In conclusion, "Blended”, or "Universal" search has become prevalent across the major search engines and it offers marketers additional avenues for obtaining rankings in the major search engines. As marketers and site owners clamor to produce and release more and more video content, it will become even more crucial to learn how to optimize video content (both "hosted" and "posted”) for search engine discovery.
As most of our readers know, we have been evangelists when it comes to video search engine optimization and video marketing. We have seen how effective it can be and are doing our best to educate both interactive marketers as well as video content producers. With that in mind, I thought that it may be useful to post a few of our more popular SEO for video tips and tutorials. You can find these at http://www.reelseo.com/seo-for-video/