The Video Carousels Algorithm Update replaces video thumbnails in desktop search results with video carousels. The update has nearly doubled the number of videos that show up on SERPs.
Google has been testing video carousels on desktop for a while now. Previously, they were only a mobile feature. As of June, 2018, the update has been fully implemented with the video carousel update.
Video carousels are appearing at the top of search result pages, showing users video before pretty much anything else (usually). Take a look:
The arrows on each side of the carousel allow users to toggle through video results for the search phrase. This format allows Google to show users eight or nine videos as they spin through the carousel as opposed to just three thumbnails.
Clearly, the coveted spots in the carousel are the top three because they show up right away. A user then has to click the right arrow button to get the carousel spinning and view the remaining videos in the lineup. Still, making it to any of the slots in the carousel has its advantages because it puts you at the top of SERPs.
Just as mobile has transformed search, video has transformed search results, and the trend is continuing. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg has said that video will take up the majority of content on the web in the future. Thus, this Google algorithm update is simply the search giant’s attempt to stay ahead of this movement.
The video carousel algorithm update has its benefits for both users and for webmasters. For users, search results are more presumably more relevant. They can find what they’re looking for faster and digest the information through an easy-to-understand video. Win, win.
For website owners, the advantage of getting inside the carousel is increased exposure at the very top (or close to the very top) of SERPs. What more could you ask for, right? Eh, maybe. This algorithm update is working for some sites and is backfiring on others. More about that next.
Some e-commerce sites have experienced issues with this particular Google algorithm update. Since urls are removed from organic search results when they appear in the video carousel, some sites are losing clicks. Why? Because many users are scrolling right on past these video results to get to the organic results when shopping online. That may not have been Google’s intended result with this update, but it’s happening to some e-commerce sites.
Another problem with this algorithm update is that some sites are appearing in the carousel when they don’t even have video content on their pages (or just have it as a complementary component of their normal content—an aside, if you will). The problem here is pretty obvious—these sites aren’t trying to feature their video content (or lack thereof), but Google has now made that decision for them!
These issues have prompted many ecommerce sites to tell Google: “Stop the carousel; I wanna get off!” and understandably so. Fortunately, there are some ways around getting stuck in the carousel. This includes techniques like disallowing crawling of the video file or setting an expiration date in the past for video sitemaps.
Above, Google’s webmaster trends analyst John Mueller explains how to get out of the video carousels results, despite this algorithm update.
One potential problem we’ve identified with the Video Carousels Algorithm Update is that it removes selected video content from organic search results. This can be problematic for some sites since—as we mentioned— some users seem to be scrolling right past the carousels. Maybe they think it’s spam or just not as high-quality as organic search results. Who knows? As users get accustomed to the look of the new SERPs, though, we suspect this issue will work itself out.
Google still prioritizes user intent above all when showing search results. That means, if the search engine determines the user doesn’t want to see video (at least not right away), then the video carousel won’t appear. Here’s an example:
In the above example, Google interpreted the user’s search for “garlic” as a request to purchase garlic online or simply learn about garlic generally, not watch a video demonstration as in the previous example when the user search for “how to mince garlic.” Makes sense, right? It’s all about the search terms.
Note: searches that begin with the phrase “how to” do seem to trigger more video carousel results. Still, other search terms can trigger these results as well. When the update was first implemented, even people’s names were prompting carousel results! Thankfully, Google’s dialed it back a bit since.
With this new update, the carousel isn’t always shown first when it is triggered, either. A featured snippet, knowledge card, or other type of search result may precede the video carousel if Google deems these types of results more relevant. See below:
The search terms “slime recipe” (seen above) will trigger a featured snippet with step-by-step directions and a “People Also Ask” box including related queries structured in the form of questions. Both of these results appear before the video carousel results.
Google’s not done with video—not by a long shot. You can expect more and more of the search giant’s algorithm updates to reflect its growing love for video content. Don’t be scared—be prepared. Updating your website with high-quality, relevant video content for your users to consume is never a bad idea, carousel or no carousel.