Big news in the SEO world—Google Search Console’s new video indexing report is now live for all sites.
In July 2022, Google announced a new report to show which videos on your site are indexed—and therefore discoverable in search. Previously, site owners had no surefire way of knowing a video had been indexed, making it difficult to attribute organic growth from videos or improve a video’s organic search performance.
While the rollout was gradual, as of August 22, GSC’s video indexing report is available for all sites.
Why Video Indexing Matters
It’s to be expected that anything new Google does will draw attention. After all, the global search services market is expected to top $80 billion in the coming years. But data is only helpful if you know what to do with it. Search Console’s video indexing report is an exciting new piece of information, but now that you have the report, how do you use it?
Videos have wonderful on-site value and can often become the focal point of a landing page or provide important information to the user. Especially on mobile, where US residents spend an average of 323 minutes per week watching video content, a strong introduction, how-to, or product video can capture and hold a user’s attention.
But the primary SEO reason to take interest in Search Console’s indexing report is video rich snippets. Google frequently answers certain types of search queries with videos embedded into the search engine results page (SERP). This is different from a YouTube playlist appearing in the Knowledge Panel (although optimizing a YouTube video or strategically using TikTok are certainly other video-based marketing strategies). A video rich snippet links directly to your website.
The SERP on the left embeds a YouTube video in the Knowledge Panel. The SERP on the right has a video snippet linking to a site outside of Google’s domain.
This example above just shows the distinction on the “all” tab of Google’s SERP. The “videos” tab to the right gives all video results, and—depending on the search query—videos often appear in the “images” tab as well. Learning how to use video indexing—and how to track your efforts in Search Console—is all about discoverability.
The prevalence of video in Google results pages and the advent of features like key moments show Google’s commitment to future innovation that better understands, utilizes, and highlights video content. Adding a video to your homepage is one of the trendiest pieces of advice for digital marketing.
Basically, if you have videos as part of your web content strategy, you want Google to know. Search Console’s video indexing report is the first clue of whether or not Google’s bots have successfully found and understood your videos.
How To Use Search Console’s Video Indexing Report
You’re going to see one of two statuses for each video on your site. If the video has been successfully indexed, great! No further action is required.
The purpose of Search Console’s video indexing report, though, is to show you the ones that aren’t indexed.
Here are some reasons why, according to Google, a video is not indexed on your site and—most importantly—what you need to do to fix it.
One Video Selected Out Of Two Detected On The Page
Google only indexes one video per page.
It’s that simple. There’s no way around it.
So if you find a “detected videos” status on your indexing report, Search Console is telling you that it found your videos, but only one has been indexed.
How to Fix It
Give each video a separate page. Unless you’re a video-on-demand streaming service, you’re not doing your SEO strategy any favors by crowding a page with multiple videos. If you have video walkthroughs or demonstrations for products, put each video on a separate product page.
In some cases, having multiple videos on a page serves the user experience. For example, a learning course page may have multiple videos. Make sure that the anchor video you want discovered in search is at the top and prominent (more on that below).
You can also consider combining your video content. Two video clips showing different parts of a tutorial could become one longer video. It may take a little editing work and require some tweaks to your site design, but having only one video will ensure it indexes and give you more opportunity to feature key moments for all topics covered in the tutorial.
Google Could Not Determine the Prominent Video on the Page
This is essentially a “no cheating” rule. Search Console’s indexing report may tell you it can’t find the “prominent” video if it’s possible you’re using a technique to manipulate the algorithm. Even if you only have one video on the page, you still may receive this error message. Here are some reasons Google may not recognize a “prominent” video.
- Your video is hidden
- The page hosting the video is hidden
- The video is technically displayed on the site but is blocked by another page element
- Your video is too small
- It’s too complicated for a user to get to the video
- You only have a link to a video hosting site (the video is not embedded)
All of these could be indicators that you’re trying to fool Google’s bots to improve your site’s ranking. Even if it’s unintentional, one of the ways you can use Search Console’s video indexing report is to identify recurring issues in your theme or site design that are flagging videos as “not prominent.”
How to Fix It
To resolve this issue, it’s not entirely clear what technical fixes Google wants to see. Google says, somewhat unhelpfully:
“We recommend fixing other issues before fixing this one. In some cases, this issue might be caused by rendering issues in Googlebot, so you might not be able to fix it, but you should ensure that the video is reasonably prominent on your page.”
So what’s “reasonably prominent?”
The best advice here is to think about the user experience (UX). In light of Google’s recent Helpful Content Update, we can safely assume the search giant is prioritizing human-first content. Ask yourself, would a human know what the prominent video is? Could anyone not only find the video but also find it valuable?
If you are flagged for prominence in your video indexing reports, make sure you’re optimizing other areas of the page that stand out to Google. Add titles and text blocks that expand on the video, and make sure internal links from elsewhere on your site lead to the video page.
Take a moment to double-check that you haven’t hidden the video on mobile devices, even if it’s visible on desktop. Make sure you’ve embedded the video—don’t just link to an external sharing site. Most web design platforms make it easy to embed a video hosted on YouTube. Lastly, review the video on different-sized screens to make sure it’s displaying well.
The video above is “prominent” from a UX perspective, and the surrounding content on the page supports the video’s theme and purpose.
Video Too Large Or Too Small or Unsupported Video Format
These seem self-explanatory, but you may still be left scratching your head if you see this on your Search Console video indexing report. Google supports most video encodings, and it has pretty generous size guidelines, allowing 140-1080 pixels in height. Most likely, your issue is related to something else.
If you see any error message about position or size, it could be because the video didn’t load fast enough on the page.
How to Fix It
Use a responsive, lightweight theme. Also, make sure your videos are embedded at their actual size and don’t require any unusual barriers to start playing. Avoid “click this link to go to our video” or requiring users to click on an image of a video player before the actual video appears on the screen. If the video doesn’t show up at its actual size and position as soon as the page loads, you could receive one of the above errors in your Search Console video indexing report. Another way to use this information is make sure the video’s URL ends with the correct file extension.
Or AVI, MOV, MPEG, or any of the other supported encodings. Using a plugin or a drag-and-drop theme builder can help you avoid bugs in your code.
Thumbnail Not Provided, Invalid, Blocked, or Transparent
There are quite a few issues involving the thumbnail that you could see on your video indexing report. The thumbnail is the image that functions as a preview for your video. As it turns out, it’s pretty important for Google to successfully index your content.
Here are a few potential problems with your video thumbnail:
- You don’t have one—or you didn’t specify one for the video.
- Your thumbnail is not saved in an image format. You can’t have a video thumbnail for your video, for example.
- Your thumbnail is too small. It must be at least 60×30 pixels.
- Your thumbnail is transparent. Again, think UX. Users should be able to see the video preview.
- Google can’t reach your thumbnail. This may happen if you specify an image URL as the thumbnail, but that image is password-protected or has since been removed.
How to Fix It
Luckily, fixing a thumbnail issue flagged in your Search Console video indexing report is pretty straightforward. Make sure you’re using schema markup and structured data to tell Google’s bots what everything is on the page—lots of WordPress plugins can help with this.
One possible issue is your metadata—it has to be consistent. For example, if your image URL is different in your structured data and HTML tags, Google’s bots will be confused and not index your video. Along that line, make sure you have a video sitemap.
Depending on your technical expertise, this is where having an SEO technician look at the backend of your site could be tremendously helpful. They can find and correct metadata problems so your video can index properly.
For other issues, like the thumbnail being too small, transparent, or blocked, you likely just need a new image. In layman’s terms, choose a normal picture. Make sure it’s a common file extension like PNG or JPEG, has a clear resolution, and reasonably represents the content of your video.
Video Not Processed
If you see this message, it means Google identified a video on your site but decided not to index it. What’s difficult is that you may not immediately know why. Check the other fixes described above, and continually monitor Search Console. Several days after you make a change, you may see that your video indexing report reflects that your video now appears in search results.
Get Help with Video Indexing
If checking the report and optimizing all the video pages on your site seems daunting, get some help. Coalition Technologies has SEO experts who can extensively analyze your site and identify vital fixes to improve your organic rankings. Contact us today to learn more about how fixing technical issues can dramatically improve your site’s visibility in organic search results.