Friday, 04 May 2018

Google seems to be experimenting with video thumbnails in the SERPs for sites with self-hosted videos.
Below is an example from ZARA. When users search for the non-brand keyword ‘knitwear’, ZARA’s category page appears in the SERPs with a video thumbnail.
In the mobile search results, Google doesn’t display the meta description, making the video even more prominent.
The eight second video is self-hosted on ZARA’s knitwear page and appears above the fold. It’s set to autoplay, but the page is heavy, resulting in a very slow loading speed – particularly on mobile.
Google’s mobile speed testing tool rates ZARA’s page load time as poor, but interestingly, this doesn’t seem to stop Google ranking the video snippet high across both desktop and mobile search results.
Video thumbnails used to be very common in search results, but they started losing their prominence a few years ago, as illustrated by the following Mozcast graph from July 2014.
But it seems Google is revisiting this. According to Mozcast, the presence of video thumbnails in the SERPs started to increase significantly in mid-April 2018.
We’ve also noticed the following Google test where a video thumbnail appears above IKEA’s sitelinks when searching for the brand. As shown below, Google displays a thumbnail for IKEA’s six second video that’s self-hosted on their homepage and, like ZARA, has been set up to autoplay.
This appears to be a test as it’s currently inconsistent – the video doesn’t always appear in the SERPs when searching from different browsers or IP addresses.
What’s interesting from an SEO perspective is that Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool does not report any video schema mark-up on IKEA’s homepage, while on ZARA’s Knitwear page it displays the
following error message.
Google’s Rich Results Test (that uses the rendered source code of a page) doesn’t report any rich results for the ZARA or IKEA pages.
It’ll be interesting to see if this trend continues to grow over the coming months. If video thumbnails for self-hosted videos become more prominent in Google’s search results, we may see brands producing and hosting more video content on their websites, as this would be a great opportunity to increase brand exposure.

Kudos to our analysts Steve Harris and Charlie Thornton for spotting the aforementioned Google SERPs and sharing within our network.