Study Finds Disparity Between YouTube and Google Video Rankings

Video content is an often overlooked but potentially very powerful tool in the world of SEO.  But a new report published by RankRanger has found that having a highly ranked video within YouTube  may not increase it’s chances of appearing in Google’s search results video carousel.

Google’s Move From Thumbnails to Carousel

Back in July, Google altered the landscape of desktop SERPs by removing video thumbnails from results, and creating a new video carousel to display video results instead. This alteration also shifted the balance of keywords in search engine optimization, by increasing the number of keywords that could produce video results. As it stands, a notable majority video thumbnails have been removed completely from organic results, instead displaying as part of the carousel.

On top of this, RankRanger found that the frequency with which Google displays the carousel is far greater than how often it previously showed thumbnails, making video a more decisive element of search. This has had the domino effect of reducing YouTube’s organic visibility by around 60%. The carousel counteracts this by placing the top three video results front and centre, and making them much more visible than other organic results.

The huge displacement of URLs from organic results into the carousel has also reduced the total number of results to an average of eight per page. This makes ranki in the first three cards on the carousel the only way to serve video content in Google without a user taking any further action.

RankRanger’s study was aimed at defining whether or not one could reasonably optimize for both platforms at once, by only optimizing for YouTube:

Simply, can you kill two birds with one stone… …optimize for YouTube and hope to appear towards the beginning of the desktop video carousel?

RankRanger’s Findings

155 carousel keywords were examined, and the top six cards of each search were compared with the respective URL’s ranks in YouTube’s search results. The study found that, on average, the first video that Google placed in the carousel was placed around 14th on YouTube’s own platform.

The second through sixth video results in the carousel also defy expectations – the second card is placed 27th in YouTube’s search results on average, and the sixth card appears way down at an average of 54th in YouTube search results.

The data from the study supports a long running theory that YouTube and Google are intentionally divisive in their search results, and that well-ranked videos inside YouTube’s platform are not necessarily favoured in Google’s algorithms.

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Sam Mannell

Sam Mannell has been a writer for the Pure SEO content team since August '18, and is now Lead Editor. He quickly found his place in the company as resident Dungeon Master and coffee expert. Sam holds a BA from University of Auckland, where he double-majored in Linguistics and English.

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