Back in 1996, Bill Gates coined the expression “Content Is King” in an essay which predicted the vast opportunities that the internet would bring to companies and individuals by allowing them to create content for a worldwide audience. Three decades later, Gates’s expression still reverberates in the minds of digital marketers everywhere. The only thing that’s changed is that “content” today is more often something you watch than something you read.
Google’s recent announcement of its new Search Console Video Index Report is the latest indication that the demand for content is trending more and more toward video. As video creation and consumption continue to gain momentum, it may be time for SEOs to start considering video optimization as a key part of their strategy.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the growing importance of video as a content type and how Google is adapting to these trends. Then we’ll take a look at Google’s Video Index Report and show you how to utilize it to maximize visibility for your videos on the web.
Video Content Continues to Gain Momentum
We saw this kind of thing happen once before, in the mid-20th century when television replaced radio as the dominant broadcast medium. During that time, television ownership went from just 9% of American households in 1950 to 92.6% in 1965. According to datareportal.com, an eerily similar 92.6% of internet users worldwide watch a digital video at least once a week in 2022.
The statistics for video from a marketing standpoint are just as impressive. A survey conducted by Wyzowl in 2022 found that:
- 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool;
- 96% of end users have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service;
- 88% of end users say they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video.
Factor that in with the astronomical video consumption rates on platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Tik Tok, and it’s clear that video is arguably the most important form of content on the internet today.
Video Results Becoming Increasingly Prominent on Google SERPs
Google has clearly been well aware of the trending popularity of video content, as we’ve seen the search engine work toward providing more video results over the past several years.
Google has shown an interest in including video content in search results since as far back as 2005, when the company filed a patent for an information retrieval system designed to process queries for videos. Google relies heavily on text in order to present the best results for a user’s query, so analyzing video content for rankings has been a tough nut for the search engine to crack. However, Google has been steadily rolling out new features that show that it is determined to include and even highlight videos in its search results.
Initially, Google created the “Videos” tab to present video content for a searcher’s query:
But more recently, we’re seeing Google present videos on the main search results page in the form of video rich snippets:
Google Recognizes Increasing Competition for Videos in Organic Search
We should consider these recent developments as a sign that Google plans to place a larger emphasis on video content over the coming years. However, while the penetration rate of video content may seem like a content marketer’s dream, competition for video visibility on the web has also been steadily increasing. On YouTube alone, 500 hours of new video content is uploaded every minute.
With the overarching goal of providing users with the best content available on the web, the increasing volume of video content means that Google has been tasked with identifying which videos are the outright best match for a user’s query. The new Video Index report in Google Search Console indicates that Google has been observing a percentage of digital video content being published cannot be indexed by the search engine, and therefore is not eligible for positioning in the SERPs. Since getting indexed is the most basic prerequisite that a video has to satisfy in order to rank, Google has developed the Video Index report, which site owners can use to help their videos clear that bar.
The Google Search Console Video Index Report
The new Video Index Report in Google Search Console was added in July 2022 to help web owners identify which videos on their website have been indexed successfully and what issues are preventing others from being indexed. According to Google, the search engine plans to roll out these features gradually over the next few months, but a working version of the report is already available in Google Search Console.
How to Use the Video Index Report
First, note that you’ll need to verify your site in Google Search Console before you access the Video Index report. Once your site has been verified, log into Google Search Console and open the property associated with your website. Next, click on “Video pages” under the “Index” section of the left-hand navigation menu.
Now you’ve opened the Video index report. Here you’ll see an isolated report of all pages on your site where Google has detected a video file. This includes videos that are embedded through third-party platforms like YouTube and Vimeo.
The top portion of the Video index report shows the ratio of indexed video pages to non-indexed video pages over the past 3 months. This chart helps you quickly determine whether or not your video content meets the criteria that is required for Google to index those pages. Viewing the ratio over time allows you to track indexation rates for your video pages as you continue making updates to your site.
The other section of the report lets you zero in on video pages that could not be indexed. This table is especially useful because it shows you the reason why a given URL has not been indexed. To see which URLs are being affected, simply click anywhere on the row in the report.
Once you’ve clicked on a row, you’ll find a list of the pages that haven’t been indexed for a specific reason. Clicking on the “LEARN MORE” button will take you to Search Console Help, where you can find more details about the error and learn how you can fix it.
Once you’ve updated the video according to the instructions, you can click on the “VALIDATE FIX” button to prompt Google to re-evaluate the URL with the video that is receiving an error. It can take two weeks or more for Google to complete the validation, so it’s best to address all of the applicable URLs (assuming you want them all to be indexed) before initiating the process.
After you’ve clicked the “VALIDATE FIX” button, keep an eye on the report for the next few weeks to see if your video has been successfully indexed.
Best Practices for Publishing Videos
If your videos don’t satisfy Google’s indexation requirements, they will not appear in Google search. The Video Index Report is extremely helpful for troubleshooting videos on your site that are facing obstacles to indexation, but understanding Google’s best practices for publishing videos will eliminate the need for troubleshooting as you add new video content in the future. So, ensure that you’re following these best practices when it comes time to publish your next video.
Publish videos using supported video encodings
Make sure your video file is encoded with one of the following supported file types: 3GP, 3G2, ASF, AVI, DivX, M2V, M3U, M3U8, M4V, MKV, MOV, MP4, MPEG, OGV, QVT, RAM, RM, VOB, WebM, WMV, or XAP.
Create a dedicated page for each video
Google needs to be able to detect the prominent video on the page in order for it to appear as a video result in search. The best way to do this is to create a dedicated page for each video. Many videos are meant to support the content in an article or product page. It’s OK to use the video on those pages, but you should also create a dedicated page specifically for the video. Some rich results like Key Moments require that the video live on its own dedicated page.
Use an appropriate HTML tag for the video
Using the <video>, <embed>, <iframe>, or <object> tags will help Google identify the video on your page.
Submit a video sitemap
Video sitemaps are a great way to direct Google to your videos. Follow Google’s guidelines on creating a video sitemap, and then test and submit the sitemap in the Search Console Sitemaps tool.
Provide a thumbnail for your video
Google requires a high-quality thumbnail in order for a video to be eligible for rich results and other video features. You can do this by specifying the poster attribute inside of the <video> HTML tag, specifying the <video:thumbnail_loc> tag in your video sitemap, or by using the thumbnailUrl property to specify the thumbnail in your structured data.
Thumbnails must be at least 60×30 pixels in size, and must use supported thumbnail formats. Google supports BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP, and SVG formats for video thumbnails. The thumbnail file needs to be accessible by Googlebot, and at least 80% of the thumbnail’s pixels must have an alpha value greater than 250.
Use structured data to describe the video
Structured data gives you the ability to concisely identify important information about the video through a short snippet of customized code. Marking up your video with VideoObject from the schema.org library will give your video the best chance of appearing in rich results and other video results in Google.
Google’s Key Moments feature allows users to jump to the precise point in the video that provides an answer to their question. When this feature first launched in 2019, publishers had to manually label each segment in order to enable key moments, but in 2021, Google announced that with some simple structured data markup, their algorithm could use AI to identify key moments in the video on its own.
To get started, read through Google’s documentation on how to add schema markup to your videos.
Utilize Google’s Video Features to Get More Views
Because we all understand by now the importance of video to a well-rounded content strategy, you’re going to have more and more videos to manage, so it’s a good thing for all of us that Google has introduced this new tool that allows us a broad and frequently updated overview of our videos’ basic SEO health. Whatever your strategic or tactical goals for video content are, at least the fundamental boxes for indexation have now been named and described and are therefore easier to tick.