We had the privilege of speaking with Bruce Clay at SMX, and he spoke at length about how video has impacted the search results in dramatic and permanent ways. Bruce is one of the most-trusted voices in the search engine marketing space--he founded his SEO company, Bruce Clay Inc., in 1996... before the official launch of Google and well before most in the industry today were thinking about rankings. So when he has something to say about search, it's usually a good idea to listen.

Here's the video of our chat with Bruce, where he talks about Google's intentions with YouTube, how video has impacted the Google results, and why video is a must-have content variety moving forward:

If you don't have time to watch the entire interview (it's less than 4 minutes), I'll do my best to summarize his thoughts for you:

Video Is High Engagement

Video is something most of us should be pursuing, for a number of reasons. But first and foremost, it's more engaging than other content varieties. And Google's latest moves suggest it values sites that contain engaging content.

Here's Bruce:

"The biggest element of video is, as you pointed out, is that it's high-engagment. And as an engagement element, that's kind of an object or something that Google's going to look for both within the Google search results page and on the web pages that it's indexing."

YouTube As  A Content Network

What if Google never intended to use YouTube as a destination website? What if all along... they had plans to make it more of a conduit... a distribution platform? That's what Bruce seems to think:

"Now, my ultimate view is that, YouTube was bought by Google not so much as a standalone destination. And I think that their ultimate plan is to make it a content network. Put your videos up on YouTube, embed them into your page... it's a content network for videos."

What does that mean for website-owners?

"Whoever has the right kind of content, good for them. If you don't have the right content, bad for you. If your competition has a video and you don't, the competition wins. So I think we're going to see video on almost every site that at least wants to rank."

Yeah, it's just that serious. If you want to rank moving forward, you'll have to get video involved in one way or another. There's just no way around it.

Video Changed The Search Results Forever

Bruce gives us a brief history of video in the search result pages, focusing specifically on when Google stopped playing full videos directly within the search result pages and started making video results links to the YouTube pages:

"When that happened, the curiosity factor changed a little bit. And I think that what's being inserted universally between positions three and four has started to become a wall. And we've seen that position four is getting fewer clicks than they did before. That essentially means--because it's a wall--it essentially means that the top three organic results is the new first page. That changes everything."

The implication is that people are interested in video so much, that sites ranking organically below the 3rd and 4th spots (which are typically video these days) aren't getting the attention or clicks they used to. And it's not just because of video:

"Now, if you add to it the fact that local results appear at position for, and there's seven pins, and sometimes it's Google Places, sometimes it's additional things... that makes it even more complex. Then throw images on or, you know, blogs, or something else--Instant--it becomes quite complex. So the first page... we've actually seen the first page have only four blue links on it. Only four organic on the entire first page, because there's too many other things on the page."

He's right. And we all know it. There is so much universal-type content on a Google results page these days, that traditional HTML websites just don't have as many first-page slots as they used to. Those are taken up with video, recent Tweets, news results, local listings, etc.

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Bruce also shared a specific example of the power and alarming speed of video ranking:

So, if I were to look at how video plays at that level: Look at what happened with Will It Blend. When they blended the iPhone, it jumped to the top of the rankings for 'iPhone,' it was number one for, like, three and a half weeks. That's... that was, like, in zero minutes, right? They published it... everybody saw it, you searched for iPhone and it showed up.

So if you're a traditional HTML website, and you want to rank on the first page... you can either keep doing what you're doing and fight the stiff competition for one of those four slots, or you can get to work on creating universal-style content... of which video is the highest ranking and most engaging (and, at times, the fastest-ranking as well). It's up to you.


If you want to rank on Google, you're going to need to change what you've been doing for the last several years. Video is a must-have content variety for any site that hopes to reach the first page of results. I could try and come up with a very eloquent way to emphasize the importance of video, but I think Bruce does a fine job himself:

"Then I have to consider video as a way to get on the first page, right? So, we cannot help but consider video as an optimized item. It is part of your Internet marketing spread. It may not be considered as much on-page as some people would like it, although I think it should be there. But it is definitely, definitely going to get you on the first page if you do it right. At that level, you just gotta do them."

Our thanks to Bruce Clay for taking the time to share his always-great insights on the state of video and video search engine marketing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=680454171 Jeremy Widdup

    Quite a clever insight: If Google rewards websites with rank position when the site has a video (well optimised) - Then this drives the need for video production, hence the emphasis to use YouTube will become less a destination site, but more as a content delivery network.

    The result on Youtube will be the way video production values also changes with it, away from viral type search video and towards more alignment to using it for producing content objects used for embedding into websites. It will be website owners that become more interested in creating videos that illustrate the point more engagingly about their subject/content needs and the production value of video. Youtube content would become less viral in nature.

    There is the counter argument that says that they are too dependent on its viral search customers and will remain with its existing core. i.e Youtube is the second largest search platform on the planet and what users search for is actually the viral content that exists on Youtube - together with the fact that Google has just announced that it is investing big amounts for TV type entertainment content - Hence Google seem to be actually putting more emphasis in the viral search usage for the platform.

    However it is not impossible that Google may at some time segment out the platform - one service for viral search and another service to use as a CDN...Mnnnn who knows?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002380851392 Darren Peachey

    thanks for that, excellent interview.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000947126930 Mariah Avery R. Demor

    yeah all what he said is absolutely true....

  • David Goodwin

    The more competitive the keywords relating to the video, the more difficult it is to get it onto the SERP. And better ranking text pages WILL out rank a video. Video can give and edge but it is not SEO pixie dust for competitive terms.

    A simple way to see how your video stacks up is to type in your search term then click videos on the left of the Google results page. If your (optimized) video is buried on the 5th page of video results then it won't see the light of day in the general search results without serious work.

    That's when you read the excellent post by Grant Crowell http://www.reelseo.com/social-video-optimization-presentation/ and roll up your sleeves!

  • http://www.VideoLeadsOnline.com/ Ronnie Bincer

    When Bruce says, "It may not be considered as much on-page as some people would like it, although I think it should be there." - what do you think he means? Is this a reference to the Hosted vs. Posted debate?

    If you have a video and it is posted on YouTube, then you may get in the search results but it is pointing to your YouTube posted video, not your site. Me thinks Bruce is looking at the holistic viewpoint of your message - not necessarily your website. But I could be wrong and he is saying you need to host your own vids and then the SERP points directly to your website.

    Any thoughts on what he is saying in regards to on-page / off-page, hosted / posted video?

    • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

      Yeah that's excactly what he's saying. He's saying a few things.  1) video is now a must in terms of being a viable additional tool for showing up prominently in relevant web search results and 2) that he believes websites which have video (regardless of where hosted) will in most cases outperform those without video which can also directly affect search positioning.  

      As for hosted/posted, I thought that he was inferring that for some SEO traditionalists (Not that I want to put words in his mouth), there is a desire to focus moreso with on-page SEO for video.  What I think he's saying is that regardless of the difficulty and or the desire to have more tools for on-page optimization, video is a must at this point whether used on a website to increase performance metrics (thereby influencing search) or whether using YouTube and other distribution outlets and/or both.  

  • Andrew Mooers

    Excellent video. I will definitely search Bruce out to learn more. Increasing your front page landings with a video player that the surfer has to google is big. Many talk about some day, they have to get started on the video end of the marketing. Video is not a slide show, it is 30 or 50 frames per second. Audio is 40 percent of the video experience.