Ask the Experts: How Can I Get Video Thumbnails in Google? [updated]

by Gradiva Couzin on May 21, 2012

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?


Unfortunately, as of July 2014, it is likely no longer possible to attain the video thumbnails that show up in Google results for your personal website.

The video search space has been constantly changing over the past couple of years; and, in that time, we’ve experienced the rise and fall of on-site video optimization to attain video thumbnails. Now, it looks like the only sites receiving video thumbnails are video platforms (or video-centric sites): YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, etc… And, as expected, the top platform receiving thumbnails is YouTube.

Before this change: we had shifted to recommending YouTube embeds over hosting your own video and trying to get a thumbnail: You’d normally have a greater chance of your YouTube video ranking (and you could potentially get a thumbnail for your site’s result with the YouTube embed). Now, with this change, we believe hosting your video on YouTube is even more important; and YouTube video optimization becomes key.


We’ve been helping customers improve their search engine ranks and conversion rates for over a decade. We consult on SEO and social media for major brands, one-person shops, and everything in between. Get in touch to find out how we can help you!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Monkeyweb December 8, 2011 at 8:41 am

Good introduction to the subject – I will definately check out the RDFa and OG tags

GC December 23, 2011 at 7:21 am

This is exactly what i needed to know. Thanks for this, gonna get video thumbnails thanks to you 🙂

Sarah February 18, 2012 at 7:38 am

Hello, I just would like to ask you, is there any plugin for wordpress video?
And also, currently google also showing thumbnail image in search result, could you explain about it? If yes, could you email me please, thank you

Paul Friar March 25, 2012 at 1:12 am

The best plugin for wordpress video is “FV WordPress Flowplayer”, which I use on my own blog, if you care to check it out.
I just though I would post it here as it’s likely that it’s not just the last commenter that might be wondering about video on wordpress blogs.
Its really useful for redirecting people to other websites after viewing the video (if you want to do that, but I currently do not) and is so easy to customize, and because its made by the same guys that make the normal Flowplayer for websites you know its a quality plugin for wordpress video!

Ciekawostki January 6, 2013 at 3:08 am

I’m wondering how to match “third party youtube embed” and “giving signals”. If I embed video using youtube embed code, I can’t set markup. The youyube code is in iframe, so it counts as another page embeded. Have no idea how to set it on a sitemap, can this work? I got some videos, but no special markup in sitemap.

Ciekawostki January 6, 2013 at 3:44 am

Just found greate article: . Youtube embeded videos are really visible but only in video search. In general google results there are only thumbnails to videos which belongs to the site (are not embeded).

john January 26, 2013 at 12:12 am

Thanks for the amazing information. Didn’t know about the OG tags and Google video sitemap. Will try this.

Swayam March 15, 2013 at 7:54 am

Nice article! 🙂 I was thinking of using Schema Coding for video optimization for my site but I am a bit confused for the correct dimensions of the thumbnail. Can you help me with this please…

toni roy April 14, 2013 at 7:05 am

Nicely written and well explained, Kudos ! And Swayam, you can use any dimension of video, Google will get to know about it by itself.

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