Google Universal (or Blended) Search pulls data together from different 'vertical' sources to display together on the same page. This means that the user is usually presented with a choice of web pages, maps, images, shopping results, videos, location based results or news stories, depending on which key phrase they were searching with in the first place. That's wonderful for the user, who gets to pick and choose the best result for them at any given time but it makes the work of the content creator that much tougher. Not only are they up against other websites but all sorts of other shiny shiny things that catch the eye and take up valuable real estate on the front pages. Luckily, for readers of this site, a new report from Searchmetrics confirms that video, especially if hosted on YouTube, remains the most effective way of appearing in the Universal Search results.

Universal Search Results and User Intent

Before we take a look at the results, it's important to understand the way Google treats a user query and the type of content it may return for that search. The bottom line is that Google only wants to give the user the absolute best information they have available to them and it also wants to present that information in the most appropriate and convenient way possible. We've talked before about video in Universal Search and how and when it is most likely to appear near the top of the search rankings - the key being the user intent behind the query. The biggest factor by far was the use of 'informational' keywords by the user. For example, a search using the words 'Chocolate Easter Eggs' will return web pages, images and news results on the front page of Google whereas a search for 'How to make Chocolate Easter Eggs' (the 'How to' being the informational bit) will return web pages, images and news results - and a video on the front page of Google:

Video Snippets Continue to Dominate Google Universal Search Results how to make chocolate easter eggs Google Search 606x416

Try it yourself with different types of search terms - you'll see how Google interprets each query and gives you different verticals to choose from. If you are aiming for a very high ranking for video content then you need to understand what will work for you and what will forever keep you (and your competitors) on page 5 or 6....

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You can find more information regarding how and why video ranks from our How To Get Your Videos Ranking In Universal Search Results: A Video SEO Study post. Other factors to take into consideration include personalised search history and behaviour, whether you are logged into Google and your IP address.

Video Snippets Continue to Dominate Google Universal Search Results informational keyword research

The Searchmetrics report doesn't confirm the methodology behind the type of keywords used to determine their findings so we will assume it's a broader range than purely informational.

Universal Search Results And Video Content

Using data from across 2012, Searchmetrics have confirmed the following trends in Universal Search results. Although video content is down on the year before, it still remains the foremost vertical to appear alongside web pages, ahead of news, shopping, images and maps. Shopping and news results both took a tumble:

Video Snippets Continue to Dominate Google Universal Search Results universal search 606x376
Video Snippets Continue to Dominate Google Universal Search Results Searchmetrics universal search infographic 606x1060

Video Snippets Continue to Dominate Google Universal Search Results Marketing Land Marketing Land 600x505 300x252

Universal Search Results and YouTube

We're talking about Google here, so the fact that Google owned properties do very favourably in Universal Search results isn't totally unexpected. YouTube, owned by Google since 2006, is THE video site to appear on if you want a good ranking, with the site boasting 8 out of 10 video integrations in the blended results. In the US, the average first video placement of a YouTube hosted video is about two positions ahead of the average first position of a competitor's (i.e Vimeo, Dailymotion, eHow etc.) video.

ReelSEO top tip: If you want your video to appear in the search results, get it on YouTube. And optimize it for Video SEO. You can still host it on your own site and elsewhere if you like but you have to play the game with Google if you want a chance of ranking. Oh, and again with the optimisation thing. Can't stress this enough.

Video Snippets Continue to Dominate Google Universal Search Results video universal search 2012 606x310

The Universal Search Results report can be downloaded from the Searchmetrics site here.

  • treepodia

    Hi Carla,

    I'll start with a disclaimer and say that I'm a member of the team at - we're the provider of the automated product video platform used by Dell, Walmart, Rakuten, etc...

    Thanks for this excellent post. It's a very cool follow-up on Searchmetric's study and serves to validate once again video's critical importance in any marketing plan for ecommerce.

    The value of posting video's to Youtube is pretty much solidly confirmed by the study, but Ezra makes a good point regarding the limited SEO value you'd get from that.

    Another greater challenge is simply the question of scale. The average "serious" ecommerce site has an inventory of 500+ items. Even if you had the time to post them all to Youtube one time, what happens when you add new items to your inventory or change specifications and pricing?

    We've tackled this issue by offering clients an add-on solution to our platform that automatically posts generated videos to a multitude of video portal sites at the push of a button (including Youtube). Would be great to learn how others are tackling this issue.


  • Ezra Fishman

    Very informative post Carla. I do have to disagree with this statement though - "You can still host it on your own site and elsewhere if you like but you have to play the game with Google if you want a chance of ranking." By sheer quantity, Youtube dominates the rankings but there is very little evidence that a YouTube video will outrank your own or one hosted on a professional service. Add to that the fact that these rich snippets will all link back to YouTube and not your website, and I would argue that playing their game is actually not the best approach from an SEO perspective.

    • Phil Nottingham

      I agree Ezra - correlation does not equal causation here.

      The main reason why most video snippets come from YouTube results is sheer quantity of YouTube pages - as against an extreme minority of sites that have actually implemented a video sitemap correctly.

      It's not then correct to say "put your content on YouTube if you want it to rank" - since in many instances such an approach is actually counter the goal of ranking in Google search results itself, which should be traffic back to your website.

  • webnavgal

    Have been looking for up-to-date info on how can video help with search ranking. Thanks, Carla.