Q: We have tons of great videos on our website. How can we get those little video thumbnails that sometimes show up in Google search results?
A: When Google understands that there is a video presented on a web page, it will often display a thumbnail as part of the search result for that page, as shown here:
For the best chance at getting video thumbnails for your pages, you should embed videos on your site in a way that Google can easily recognize and it also helps to send Google additional signals that you have a video on the page. Here are some tips that can help:
- Include each video on a separate URL
- Video Embedding – There are numerous ways to embed a video on a page, below are a few examples of the best ways to achieve a video thumbnail:
- YouTube Embed – Recently Google has started to generate video thumbnails for YouTube embeds on third-party sites. This can be achieved by using the <iframe> embed option from YouTube.
- Simple Flash Embed – We recommend using SWFObject to embed the flash file, or one of the more common video players available on the web: JW Player or Flowplayer are two examples. Ideally, all files are accessible by HTTP.
- HTML 5 video – Google has an easy time identifying videos that are embedded using the new <video> tag from still developing HTML 5 standard.
- Additional Signals – Below are some options to help Google identify a video on the page:
- Create a Google Video Sitemap and submit it to Google Webmaster Tools: click here for Google’s video sitemap instructions.
- Use Schema.org markup for videos. This is a new and still developing standard and can be used in conjunction with HTMl5 and Flash player embeds. See more about using these tags from Google’s markup instructions.
- Use Facebook Share tags. These are intended for social media, but Google sees them too, and we’ve seen clear evidence that Google will recognize video information in OG tags. See more about how to use Facebook OG tags.
Video SEO is changing fast! About two years ago, video thumbnails were dominated by YouTube and Metacafe. These days, YouTube still has a dominant role, but other domains are presented among the featured thumbnails more and more. Watch this blog for updates in this quick-moving space.