According to the study done for 2.1 million people who searched on google and 766 video watches, YouTube accounted for almost 94% of the video carousel results that showed up on Google and there was very little room for other website competition.
Even if the user is not much acquainted with video ads and video online, he would be aware of YouTube which was acquired by Google in the year 2006. If you are a user who has done a search of Google then you would have experienced that you had encountered more videos from YouTube alone as compared to videos from other websites or sources, but does the survey data back up this fact?
According to the research of the Wall Street Journal in the year June 2020, there is a strong advantage associated with the presence of YouTube videos in the search results on Google. This article was more focused on 98 videos that were hand-selected to compare the advantage of YouTube over other platforms.
We captured more than 2 million searches via desktop on Google.com (US) in early October 2020. After doing so we were in a position to extract greater than 2,50,000 results that had video carousels on one of their pages. Most of the video results obtained by organic SEO in the year 2021 appear in the form of a carousel.
If you see the carousel, then it will show up three videos at a time and on the right end, you will notice that there is an arrow. This arrow which comes in the video listing of Google search results can scroll to show up to ten videos at a time. We have done our research for multiple keywords to track all these ten positions. But mostly the first three visible positions gain the most clicks.
How much is the domination of YouTube?
To understand the domination of YouTube, we looked at the top three results of a video search. We found that YouTube pops up in most of the Google results. The presence of domination of Youtube videos on the first three slots of video search results is quite consistent at 94.1% for the 1st position, and 94.2% for 2nd as well as third position. Facebook and Khan Academy took the 3rd and 2nd ranking for each of the slots of the carousel and Facebook had a major share in the later slots.
This is a huge drop from the first to the second competitor in the video ranking. YouTube’s presence in the results varied from just 94.1% to 95.1% across the ten video slots. Based on our data set, here are the top ten contenders across all videos that showed up in the carousel:
1. YouTube (94.2%)
2. Khan Academy (1.5%)
3. Facebook (1.4%)
4. Microsoft (0.4%)
5. Vimeo (0.1%)
6. Twitter (0.1%)
7. Dailymotion (<0.1%)
8. CNBC (<0.1%)
9. CNN (<0.1%)
10. ESPN (<0.1%)
It is important to note here that because of some technical limitations regarding the working of search spiders, many Twitter and Facebook videos need a login and so they are unavailable to Google. Because of that the #2 to #10 rankings of the top players in the video carousel – including some of the top brands with deep pockets for their video content – make only a share of 3.7% of the search result’s visible videos.
What about how-to?
How-to…? Questions are a hot spot for getting video results on Google search and this naturally leads to niche websites such as HGTV. If you are searching for any how-to term like “how to organize a pantry”, then you will get many results from HGTV.
It seems promising on the upper surface but does this niche have a lot of diversity in the reality of websites at scale? Our data included more than 45,000 searches with the term “how to …” and we checked the results with video carousels. We have listed out the top three websites that are shown for each slot.
According to our research, the dominance of Youtube in the how-to niche is even more reaching up to 97-98% of the total visible slots. The second position is held by Khan Academy and the Microsoft support website came in the third position, but its visibility was less than 1% in all the three slots.
Was this just a fluke?
Most of the analysis that we did was based upon a snapshot of the data we found in early October. But Google makes changes to its algorithms frequently and thousands of tests are run by it every year. So the chance could be that we chose a day which was showing unusual results. To solve this dilemma, we checked the prevalence of YouTube video results across the video carousels on every month’s first day for the year 2022.
For the year 2021, the dominance of YouTube was quite steady, ranging from 92.0-95.3% in the data set and the trend was increasing since January. So we have concluded that the dominance of YouTube is not a temporary condition especially recently.
Another major challenge that we faced while studying the search results of Google, even when using a large set of data was the possibility of sampling bias. In reality, there is no way to do random sampling of the search results, but we had even tried with the second data set that had a long history. While this set of data was just 10,000 keywords, it was designed specifically to represent the categories of industries in the Google Ads evenly. On the 9th of October, we captured 2,390 video carousels using this data set. And the results were as follows.
The websites that ranked the top three in each of the slots of video carousels were similar to the 2M data set of keywords and the dominance of YouTube was even greater i.e. it went up to 96% from 94%. So now we have concluded that the YouTube results that we have checked in the study are not a fluke at all, because it is not true just for a single data set or a single day.
How level in the field?
Is there an unfair advantage for YouTube? Fairness is a concept that is difficult to quantify. So let us check the perspective of Google.
The first reason that Google would give for showing the YouTube results in the video carousels is that it has the hosting of the majority of the online videos. Unfortunately, it is not possible to get numbers of video hosting across the world that would be reliable, especially in the case of social media platforms. There is no doubt that YouTube is a massive player when it comes to video hosting and it hosts the majority of the public, non-social videos in the US, but 94% looks like a huge share even if it is the lion of video hosting.
Another major problem that is faced, is that this type of dominance is self-perpetuating in itself. In the past few years, there is an increasing number of major companies that are hosting their videos on YouTube. They have made their YouTube channels because it becomes easier to show up in the search results of Google than hosting their videos on their website or smaller platforms.
The main problem is that this dominance is becoming self-perpetuating now. In the last few years, major companies are hosting videos on YouTube and also creating their YouTube channels. It is very easy to get the results in Google Search than hosting the videos on smaller platforms.
Another argument that Google gives which is a lot more technical is that the search algorithm of video results has no inherent preference for videos from YouTube. As an SEO expert, I have checked the truth of this argument in detail. If you see the coding of the Google search algorithm then you will not find any line of code which mentions that if the website is YouTube then the ranking should be equal to 1.
So after checking in detail, I firmly believe that Google is using no tactic to give dominance to YouTube videos. But there is no denying the fact that YouTube and Google are having a common backbone and many of its internal organs are also the same. This eventually provides advantages that are not insurmountable.
Just, for instance, the video algorithm of Google might reward high loading speed. This makes sense for user experience because a slow-loading video will make the user experience bad and make the search results of Google look bad. As Google has direct ownership of YouTube, its access to the data and videos of YouTube is lightning fast. It is not realistic for a competitor even if they have billions of dollars of investment to give an experience that is faster than a website which is a direct pipeline to Google. Also, the data structure of YouTube is by default going to be optimized according to Google algorithm so that it can be easily processed and digested, based on the knowledge that only an insider might have and it might not be available equally to all other players.
Now let us consider a marketing perspective, we have very little choice but we need to cover our bases and must take the YouTube advantage that it offers. There is no available reason for us to expect that the number of YouTube videos in the carousel would decrease, but in the future, the dominance of YouTube would further grow. This trend is here to remain at least if there is no paradigm-shift that would disrupt the industry.
How to post on YouTube:
After understanding the importance of YouTube in video searches, it is important to post wisely on YouTube. This will help to get the advantage of YouTube to build your brand image. Here are some marketing tips that will help to gain the advantage of YouTube.
- Keep it short: shorter videos get more views, so you should remain brief to reach a wider range of audiences.
- Pay attention to lighting: make sure that your videos are having good lighting and images.
- Edit your videos: even the best videos need editing and so before you post on YouTube make sure to trim and edit your videos to make them the best.
- Do branding of your videos: while you are promoting on YouTube make sure that your brand name is visible along with YouTube. You can start and end with your logo or channel name along with a tagline that will promote your brand too.
- Choose the right title: if you are targeting any specific keywords then make sure to use them in the title. But make sure that the title induces curiosity too and makes the viewer click on it.
- Choose the correct thumbnail: the thumbnail would be the initial point that will attract someone to your video. It will make viewers to Stop by and click. Thumbnails nowadays include a combination of a good Text along with a catchy image in the background that can grab user attention. Make sure to include the title in the thumbnail and put text on the left area of the image. Pay attention to the fonts that you are using.
- Make use of background music: adding some background music can make your videos more enjoyable.
- Do the research of keywords: choose your keywords well because this will decide the number of clicks and conversions that you would be getting.
- Add a link to the video description: if you have your website then make sure that your users reach there. You can use your website name in the video and use your website link at the starting of the description too.
- Use keywords in the video Description: make sure to use appropriate keywords in your video description.
These are some of the ways to take advantage of the dominance of YouTube for your website and brand promotion.