Connecting Google’s Video Dots
There’s been a couple of interesting search articles surfacing today regarding Google, online video and how this may all fit together. The first article to grab my attention was yesterday’s New York Times article entitled Millions of Videos, and Now a Way to Search Inside Them. This one featured a few puzzling statements, the most glaring being this one:
"Today, owing to the proliferation of large video files, video accounts for more than 60 percent of the traffic on the Internet, according to CacheLogic, a company in Cambridge, England, that sells "media delivery systems" to Internet service providers. "I imagine that within two years it will be 98 percent."
I read that paragraph over a few times, sat on it for a bit, and then finally sent it Susan to make sure I wasn’t completely losing my mind. Video accounts for more than 60 percent of traffic on the Web? Would that be the crazy Web in your head? I have to assume they’re talking about bandwidth issues. That because video files are so much larger than a normal Web file, they take up more "room" in a user’s search, thereby upping the amount of traffic, in comparison, that is spent on video search. Or something.
They can’t be saying what it sounds like they’re saying – that 60 percent of users’ searches are looking for video. YouTube, Google Video and the array of other upload sites may be something of a phenomenon lately, but there is no way users are conducting more video searches than they are Web, Image, News, and Blog combined. That’s ridiculous. I think CacheLogic, who happens to sell "media delivery systems", picked some funny wording there.
But pretend this is bizarro world and they’re right. Say video search is currently sitting at 60 percent, could it ever jump to 98 percent of traffic? No. Most video search is geared towards finding what’s hot, ridiculous, and naked on the Web. Thankfully, teenage boys are not responsible for 98 percent of Web searches because I wouldn’t want to optimize that content.
After I got finished reading that NYT articles I came across a Mashable post entitled YouTube and Google Video Player In Google SERPS: This Is Evil. Though I think that sums up Pete Cashmore’s post pretty nicely, basically what happened was that Razvan Antonescu performed a search for "nightwish videos" and discovered a Google push box that included an embedded Google Video player right there in his SERP when opened. Pete thinks Google pushing their own services via a "show more" approach is "evil" as it gives Google an unfair advantage over competitors.
My opinion is split.
I don’t think its evil. As much as we hate to admit it, Google’s search results are Google’s search results. They can do whatever they want them. If they want to push Blogger, they can. If they want to push You Tube, they paid $1.65 billion to be able to do that. I don’t have to like the fact that Wikipedia ranks for every single word query under the sun; I’m not in charge of Google’s SERPs. Ranking in Google is like driving a car. It’s a privilege, not a right. And it can be taken away as soon as dad says so, along with those brief moments you spend unchained to the radiator. As a search marketer, you need to adapt to that. If may mean you have to better optimize your client’s blogs, or optimize their online video. Don’t hate Google.
Personally, I like the idea of bringing all results inside one query. You may remember my blatant jumping up and down when I heard about Ask X. In a perfect search world, I think I should be able to enter my query into one search box and be presented with all of its relevant results, regardless of format, type, preference, creed, or sex. Here’s the topic I’m interested in, you give me the results that are the most relevant. I don’t care if you pulled them from the Web, Image, News, Video or Blog results. Give me everything you’ve got and I’ll sort it out.
This approach to search makes life simpler for me and it alerts normal, non-search-obsessed users to services they may not have even known existed. Maybe one I’ll day I’ll be able to say I’m a blogger and not have to explain to people what a blog is. (“So, like, remember when you were 10 and you kept a diary about what happened in your little world that day? Yeah, it’s kind of like that except I don’t talk about cute boys, I talk about search. Actually, I guess I do talk about cute boys sometimes, but that’s not supposed to be the theme… Even though it kind of is. Forget it; I’m unemployed. Got any cash?”)
Obviously, the part of this that does get my tinfoil hat buzzing is that, even though Susan would call me a whining baby, it’s troublesome, problematic and eerie when a query for "shoes" brings up a YouTube video at number two and the appropriate Wikipedia page at number five. I know I just said Google has the right to control their results and that I wanted different kinds of results on one screen, but I also want to know I can trust those results. And trusting my results mean I don’t perform a Google search for "pez dispenser" and get its Wikipedia page at number one, Google video results at number two, Google blog results at number three, a Google image at number four, etc. That’s telling me everything Google knows about Pez dispensers. That’s not what I asked for.
Is online video becoming more important to the search engines? Yes. Am I staying up at night worrying that it’s going to ruin my search results? No.
I’m not worried about Google’s push box displaying video results on my SERP because there’s a reason online video hasn’t caught on just yet. It’s because the majority of online video is asinine. I don’t do many searches for "fence plowing" (a favorite pastime on Long Island, didn’t you know), so the likelihood of a crazy YouTube video appearing first in my search results is pretty low. And if Google happens to find a relevant YouTube for me, heck, throw it in. As long as I have the option of opening or not opening that push box, Google can give me all the Google-owned video it wants.