Universal Search optimization generally promises high traffic potential. However, much of the essential data covering the frequency and distribution of OneBoxes is scarce or nonexistent. With that in mind, I would like to look at the figures for Germany, Austria and the USA as well as offer a few optimization tips for hosting videos with YouTube.
This is all based on Frank’s piece at SEOKomm. Even though the conference finished a few days ago, work like this won’t go out of date any time soon. So, take a look for yourself:
Universal Search Integrations – AT, DE and USA
We regularly look at German SERPs in relation to Universal Search integration, so we took the opportunity to do the same for Austria at SEOkomm. The results were not all that surprising. As in Germany, video integrations outweigh images with around 57% and 37%, respectively. In the USA, videos are even stronger.
News and Maps trail behind and there are no Shopping integrations in Austria since Google AT has yet to launch their Shopping vertical. In comparison to the apparent “top dogs” of Universal Search, it is obvious that they have a vastly different distribution in terms of their search results.
In AT (Austria), DE (Germany) and the US, image OneBoxes are found almost exclusively on the first two pages:
Some other important results from the comparative analysis of AT and DE figures include:
- In Germany, videos are the the most important (= most frequent) Universal Search integration.
- Nearly 16% of AT video integrations appear on the first page of search results, which is also the case in DE.
- Around 18% appear on the second results page compared to 16% for DE.
- In total, nearly 50% of all video integrations appear on the first three results pages.
- On average, less videos are displayed per box – 2.2 videos compared to 2.5 in Germany. On average, Austria only begins to have more videos embedded than Germany on the fourth page:
Technical requirements for video optimization
Now, this is a massive topic and there are already enough quality sources that address it in detail. Not least of all, we have the Webmaster Tools Help, that sets forth relatively idiot-proof sitemap specifications http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=de&answer=80472. Nevertheless, in my daily work I continuously come across sitemaps that contain errors or are simply incomplete.
The big question, however, is normally connected with tags and goes along the lines of, “Where is the best place to host videos?” Should you host on your own server because Google might have a problem with the external hosting service? What’s the answer? In short, location URLs can be different. So, if you have a more suitable video-hosting service, then this really shouldn’t cause any problem. Really? Really. Unfortunately, there are always Video-hosters that have never heard of Google and deliver data so meekly that the search engine has no chance of finding it. So, be careful in making your selection and always keep a close eye on your hosting provider.
Above all, your site needs to be strong. If Google questions the ownership of the video or if the true source is unclear (for example if the same video can be found on YouTube), then it can be assumed that videos with the stronger host will rank higher than your own. This is particularly annoying in the case of brazen video piracy. Then, even if the host of the stolen video doesn’t rank above you, but ‘only’ just under you, you will still lose valuable traffic. Therefore, you should always try to make yourself recognizable as the owner-host via sitemaps, content, thumbnails and player location, as much as possible from your own domain.
YouTube is a very special case. As the authority in online video, Google’s own site doesn’t just receive a preference from Google but it also receives a ton of traffic. This alone is a reason to establish your own YouTube channels and regularly fill them with videos. What do you need to watch out for when doing this?
- Always publish on your own domain first before including videos in YouTube indexing.
- Optimize like you would for Onpage-optimization. This means usingYouTube Suggest & the YouTube Keyword Tool.
- User signals and video metrics tend to dominate account metrics. This means that a weaker account (subscribers etc.) will potentially rank better with a popular video than a strong account with a less popular video (corresponding to user signals).
- A top YouTube search result doesn’t necessarily mean that the video will automatically be at the top of Universal Search results or that the video will even have a Universal Search integration.
- Important: account location info relating to a video’s upload location. For example, when in doubt, DE accounts will be favored in DE, even when the content is an English song and the ranking of the ‘Foreign Language Version’ makes more sense in other countries. So, for maximum Geo-optimization in Europe, it is best to use country accounts appropriate to your optimization target.
- User signals are incredibly important! These can include:
- Video queries over time
- User Feedback -> Comments
- CTR, bouncerate -> good thumbnails improve CTR
- Appearance in user playlists
- Positive ratings
- Embedded in blogs
I hope that these figures and tips help you get off to a good start in the 2012 SEO year! And as always, let me know in the comments if you have noticed any other differences or quirks for Germany and Austria in Universal Search.