This past week I was in Toronto for Christmas and decided to do some Google keyword searches for my site. What I found was a bit odd in that there was a new thumbnail appearing for my site's result (see below). I thought that perhaps this was a test going on at google.ca (google canada) but then I also received an email from a reader that was concerned because she publishes a site about Rob Pattinson and there was a thumbnail of an attractive female next to her site's search result on Google. I then found that the same thing was happening to my site in the USA.
So, I decided to do some searching to see if I could determine what was happening. Additionally, the oddest part was that I was starting to see this for several other bloggers including newteevee and seoroundtable, all of whom seemed to feature video in some form or another on their site, but not necessarily on the home page URL. So, I thought that this might be a bug and sure-enough, today there was an article on searchengineland confirming this. The author mentions that Steve Rubel seeing the same thing, calling it an excess of "Blog Thumbnails" in the Google search results. The article then goes on to talk about from Google's Matt Cutts claiming this was some sort of bug and that he hoped to "get it straightened out in short order.”
Well, looks like Matt was able to get the thumbnails suppressed as I know longer see them for the searches. Of course, it seems like a temporary fix as all of our "site links" have disappeared even though they still show up in webmaster tools - which sucks. Hope they fix that soon. - Check "reelseo" or "newteevee"
However, I thought I should mention some other interesting things I discovered when doing these searches.
- First, the thumbnails seemed to have little to do with the site... IE, seemed to be unintentional, I can promise you mine was - why would I want a thumbnail of a guy playing a saxophone?
- The saxophone image, comes from an embedded video that I posted from metacafe - http://www.reelseo.com/metacafes-creativity-toolkit-for-video-personalization/ at about 7-10 seconds in. Some facts about that post:
- Not my own video
- Not in any video sitemap that I have
- Not a thumbnail image that I have anywhere
- Has a PR of zero and only 16 links from 5 domains to this page - not heavily weighted and certainly other pages with videos carry more weight.
- The thumbnail for SEORoundTable comes directly from the youtube embedded video at - http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/019079.html
- The only videos on our reader's site mentioned above are also from Youtube embedded videos.
- So, Google seems to be generating these video thumbnails
- I say video thumbnails because the source code for the google SERP page had the following code in it next to my search result for reelseo: <img src="http://video.google.com/ThumbnailServer2?app=smh&contentid=702c3b8ca03460a4&offsetms=1&itag=w160&sigh=X_JrPa1Akf5O_spcRc70b2Van4I" width=80 height=60 border=1 alt=""> The video image is no longer available but you can see that the source was video.google.com/ThumbnailServer
Why would Google be creating thumbnails on their own of videos that aren't even hosted on the site and associating them with posts that have very low page authority??? That is the question.
Sorry, don't have the answer, especially when my Google video sitemap has plenty of other examples that they could have used.
Any Ideas out there? Matt?