New Chrome Autoplay Policy Can Affect SEO
An upcoming change in the Chrome browser may affect your site’s user experience if you have autoplaying video. Starting in January 2018, the Chrome browser will no longer allow videos to autoplay on desktop websites. This is a policy change that is intended to bring desktop website behavior in line with mobile behavior, and to minimize annoyance for desktop users.
This could affect elements on your website such as embedded YouTube videos and backgrounds that have moving elements (especially those with sound).
Chrome users comprise the majority of desktop traffic, at around 60%, according to Net Market Share.
How This Affects SEO for Your Site
User Experience (UX) can indirectly affect SEO, and is an important consideration in any SEO strategy. A bad UX can negatively impact engagement or derail your conversion path. Visitors encountering a poor UX may be less likely to link to your site, and fewer links is a disadvantage for SEO. Searchers encountering a poor UX are more likely to bounce out of your site and back to search results, and some SEOs believe that Google may interpret this as a negative signal.
If you previously had autoplaying videos that were annoying to users, this change may improve the UX on your site. On the other hand, if you have autoplaying videos that are critical to your site experience, you’ll want to make sure that this change doesn’t cause impediments to navigating your site or the appearance of broken or missing information.
What You Can Do
You can test this now, even though it’s not rolled out yet. You can get an approximation of Chrome’s upcoming behavior by pasting the following into your Chrome browser:
And selecting the setting: Autoplay policy > Document user activation is required.
Then, relaunch your browser.
This activates a beta version of this policy, so what happens when the policy actually rolls out in January may be slightly different.
If you see unexpected behaviors on your site, you’ll need to troubleshoot the user experience or connect with your developer to help, and plan ahead to ensure a positive UX for web content that you’ll launch in 2018.
In our tests, we’ve seen some unexpected behaviors when autoplay is disabled, including multiple clicks being required to play a video, and backgrounds with moving elements but no sound that we expected to play, but didn’t.
Chrome provides more information and developer support here: https://sites.google.com/a/chromium.org/dev/audio-video/autoplay