The demise of Video SEO

Recently, Google removed, without any warning, the video snippets in the search results for a large group of sites. This followed pretty quickly on Google’s removal of author highlight pictures from the search results. First discussed by Seer on July 16th and slowly becoming more and more visible, we’ve been testing and trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t. Of course this heavily impacts the benefits of our Video SEO plugin so we wanted to make sure we knew what was happening before making any rash decisions.

It’s now pretty clear what Google has done. For those interested in the deeper workings, AJ Kohn’s post on rich snippets explains it better than I could. The gist of it is simple: video snippets now only show for sites purely dedicated to video or very large sites with clear sections dedicated to video. Which, incidentally, is why some of our clients still have them.

A clear example of the new landscape is this query: [iphone 5 review video], which has 3 videos from YouTube at the top and a video snippet for the Guardian below. As Danny Goodwin shows in his post on SearchEngineWatch, it used to be rather different.

What does this mean for the Video SEO plugin?

This doesn’t mean our Video SEO plugin becomes entirely useless, luckily. It still allows sites to:

  • show up in the video search results;
  • heavily enhances the experience of sharing posts with video in them on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest;
  • allows you to make videos responsive through enabling fitvids.js.

It does, however, mean that the direct traffic impact from Google will be less for our users and that we should focus more on the social sharing aspect.

We’re very close to releasing a major update of Video SEO that we’d been working on for months, actually from before we saw this happen, but it actually lies a better foundation for all the social stuff. We’ll probably end up renaming the plugin to “Video SEO & Social Sharing”, but that shouldn’t affect anyone.

If you bought the plugin in between June 16th (a month before it happened) and now (August 22th), and no longer want to use the plugin, we’ll give you a full refund. Just let us know through our plugin support and we’ll take care of it.

Feel free to ask your questions in the comments!

Check out our WordPress SEO Premium plugin

23 Responses

  1. MarkBy Mark on 22 August, 2014

    I wonder if has to do with the rise in popularity of self-hosting videos like Wistia and its competition with YouTube. Certainly a blow to those who upload videos and leverage the SEO benefits.

  2. NickBy Nick on 22 August, 2014

    Very generous of you to offer a refund and stand behind your products functionality, especially as its not been “officially” announced by google.

  3. Ralph D. KlonzBy Ralph D. Klonz on 22 August, 2014

    It worked well while it lasted. That’s Google for you. it gives and it takes

  4. GregBy Greg on 22 August, 2014

    Also the Yoast Video Plugin does the schema work in the backend for your video which is great!

  5. Scott TrueBy Scott True on 22 August, 2014

    Thanks for sharing Joost. I have a question ranking pages with video. First of all, my primary way of “ranking” is just simply putting out good content and great UX. Aside from that, we obviously should make sure our technical SEO is in order. Part of technical SEO is making things visible and “understandable” by Google. When I first heard about losing snippets, my Video SEO strategy remained the same. Schema markup is great for giving more information about what’s on the page. Same thing with the video sitemap and everything else we do in Video SEO. The point is to get the bots to “understand” what’s on the page so it can use it in it’s algorithm to rank the pages appropriately. So, I know we lost snippets. But have we also lost rankings? In other words, are pages that used to show up at the top with a snippet losing snippets AND rankings, or is it just snippets? Thanks for the insight!

    • ChristineBy Christine on 22 August, 2014

      AJ Kohn (thanks for the link, Joost) says if quality of the site is an issue, rankings will also go down when Google pulls Rich Snippets from your results: “What that means is Panda Jail produces a double whammy of rank reduction and rich snippet suppression.”
      But quality of site is not always the issue, as he goes on to say…

    • manoloBy manolo on 22 August, 2014

      Haven’t check ALL the links, but the serp on first page are still there, without video thumbnail and without stars.. but they are there :-)

    • Scott TrueBy Scott True on 22 August, 2014

      Thanks Christine and manolo for chiming in on this. I skimmed through AJ’s post, but I think I’m going to go back and read it more thoroughly.

  6. Jatin ChhabraBy Jatin Chhabra on 22 August, 2014

    Disturbing Post. My mind is totally diluted…

  7. supreeth bharadwajBy supreeth bharadwaj on 22 August, 2014

    awesome work guys, also wecan now easily work on our video blogs
    thanks once again for such great plugins

  8. Elliot NotewareBy Elliot Noteware on 22 August, 2014

    I have a feeling they will bring it back at somepoint, there was probably just too much spammyness going on. It did add value to search results.

    • Scott TrueBy Scott True on 22 August, 2014

      Yeah, I’m thinking so too.

  9. bluenavyBy bluenavy on 23 August, 2014

    I purchased Video SEO before the unlimited version went away and it was replaced with an agency model and after upgrading my wordpress sites it says my license is extinct.

    I recall Joost stating that customer that purchased the plugin before this change will still retain their usage quota.

    Anyway to refresh my license so I have the appropriate levels of licence quota

  10. QuentinBy Quentin on 23 August, 2014

    Instead of a refund, can we get an increase in the number of sites included in our license? :-)

  11. NganBy Ngan on 23 August, 2014

    Honestly, I think Google made the right move. Their SERP is kind of messy, clustered with profile images and thumbnails. kind of spammy.

  12. Danny VermeerenBy Danny Vermeeren on 25 August, 2014

    Actually, the Video SEO plugin didn’t do anything, so far I can see. I wanted to contact you about this.

    Did we so something wrong in the settings or so? I can’t find anything how to solve the problem? Or was the removal already active since the beginning of his year?

  13. TomkBy Tomk on 26 August, 2014

    Thanks for the post, I will purchase the video plugin soon for my video review site.

  14. LionaBy Liona on 26 August, 2014

    Well, that’s better for me. Too many thumbnail in search result make me confusing to which should I clicking, but now it’s clean and better

  15. PhilBy Phil on 26 August, 2014

    Argh!!! … We’ve just bought this today as it was a requirement of a project and Google have just screwed that up.
    Cheers Google, stuck with a $69 plugin we won’t be using now … Grrrr

    • Coen JacobsBy Coen Jacobs on 30 August, 2014

      If you would have read the post, you’d know that you could get a full refund since you’ve only purchased it recently.

      • PhilBy Phil on 2 September, 2014

        If you bought the plugin in between June 16th (a month before it happened) and now, and no longer want to use the plugin, we’ll give you a full refund. Just let us know through our plugin support and we’ll take care of it.

        I assume NOW is the date of this post. I commented on the post, therefor I fall outside of the refund period

  16. GregBy Greg on 31 August, 2014

    If Google want to improve search rankings (without the negative feedback) they could just update PageRank :)

  17. Thomas ZickellBy Thomas Zickell on 2 September, 2014

    snippets are not the point video’s can only rank when Google bot sees them.
    The only way for that to happen is with a video XML site map.
    I am not going to tell you that having a photograph in the SERPS does not help but if that is all you are counting on.
    Your doomed from the start