|Google Web Search Favoring Results for Youtube|
I've been in the video space for over 10 years, long before Youtube existed. But in the last few years, I've seen some unprecedented search results. Specifically in web search where Youtube will dominate every listing on Google. Check this out...
Normally this would be called spam. I am not searching for a video, but yet Youtube is every single listing. This is not fair to other video websites and its not fair to any website (im not even searching for a video). When I search for videos, its even worse.
This is clearly getting out of hand. Thoughts?
Mods note: We normally do not allow keywords to be disclosed in posts, but in this case we will make an exception for this very generic search
[edited by: aakk9999 at 7:49 pm (utc) on Sep 21, 2013]
It is an interesting SERP. I am seeing 9 YouTube videos, one strip of images and one normal listing at the end that links to a photo gallery page.
I have also noted that the very first suggested entry in Google Search box as you type "dogs cats fu" is "dogs cats funny videos" so Google must be guessing this is what the searches are searching for even without the "video" in the search.
I would like us to be objective in this particular case and there are three questions I would like we discuss here:
1) What do you expect to see (or better, what do you think Google thinks an average visitor expects to see) in SERPs if a phrase "dogs cats funny" is searched for? Stories? Images? Videos? News stories? Informational type of site? Something else?
2) What kind of SERPs (do not name sites please, instead just types of site) would give an average user who typed this query better result?
3) If you think that this query indirectly implies videos - is the multiple YouTube results the right choice for a searcher? That is, would the average visitor be disappointed with this SERP as is?
Without the + used, the serps include 3 youtubes at the top, an image block underneath them, two consecutive listings for a msn property, an apparent "independent" website and a facebook page.
What would I expect to see? A little diversity. There are a number of other quite popular video sites, if that's what Google believes what people are searching for. Without the +, bing does show two youtube videos at the top but many other independents below.
In other Google search queries I've seen Bing shopping listings and other weird stuff. On those queries it almost appears as if Google is intentionally displaying results from other search engines, albeit in less prominent positions, as a sign they are not limiting competition within their results. Ironically, the sites that are missing are the non-big brand independents.
Getting back to the original query, and the one without the + used, there is only one independent site out of 20 results. The rest are big brands.
|This is clearly getting out of hand. Thoughts? |
It's been out of hand for a long time, and it's getting worse each month. Although you will find a lot of sympathy on forums, the best thing you can do is complain directly to Google or those agencies within your country that regulate commerce.
|What would I expect to see? A little diversity. |
Yup, I sure would, but I got 6 Google Images at the top of the page, 9 YouTube results and one NOW.MSN result.
|...bing does show two youtube videos at the top but many other independents below. |
Bing's been way better for most searches for quite a while in-my-opinion -- I used G for years then took a really good look at Bing comparrd to G and after I adjusted to Bing the chances are I'm not switching back to G any time soon. G's results were by far the best for a long time, but what they show is not what I want to see any more.
[edited by: JD_Toims at 1:19 am (utc) on Sep 22, 2013]
Youtube is clearly out of control in the serps and it points to how big brands can dominate for no other reason other that their are big brands and not because they are an expert in the topic being searched. No site should have multiple listings like that. Youtube should probably be near the top but they should have one main listing that is slightly larger with an image and the link to the video followed by 4 or 5 other related video links, like how Google displays links to multiple forum posts from the same site. The searcher can then click on the link they want and search further on youtube if need be. The problem with videos in general is it is hard for search engines to determine what they are about.
A funny example is try searching for Google's domain name on Google. The third listing is a Youtube video with Google in the title but it is nothing about Google itself, it is just some music video.
|1) What do you expect to see (or better, what do you think Google thinks an average visitor expects to see) in SERPs if a phrase "dogs cats funny" is searched for? Stories? Images? Videos? News stories? Informational type of site? Something else? |
It should be a story or information on a funny cat and/or dog. If I was searching for a video, I would use the video search google provides.
|2) What kind of SERPs (do not name sites please, instead just types of site) would give an average user who typed this query better result? |
A few news sites with stories on funny cat and dog moments. Maybe one video site, and a few more informational sites. An assortment would make most sense.
|3) If you think that this query indirectly implies videos - is the multiple YouTube results the right choice for a searcher? That is, would the average visitor be disappointed with this SERP as is? |
Youtube respresents only 37% of video streams in USA (Comscore June 2013). So yes, this is way over done, they should be getting a fair assortment of options from different videos sites. Also remember, if I were to search a major brand like "google", I only get 3 google site listings, and its justified.
The bottom line is that YT only represents 37% of all video streams online, but yet, Google is will give it 95% of its video search results and in cases like this, 80% of its regular search.
|brotherhood of LAN|
I see the same results as aakk9999.
I would agree it's not "fair" ranking, there are obviously lots of funny cat videos online and YT won't have all the unique ones itself. A prominent link with "more results from" would be fine here, and 4-5 slots for other sites at least.
IMO motives aside it's partly lazy engineering, better the devil they know.
|A funny example is try searching for Google's domain name on Google. The third listing is a Youtube video with Google in the title but it is nothing about Google itself, it is just some music video. |
that is a clear indication of how easy it is to spam their trusted domains. Simply have the keyword and sell whatever you want via amazon, youtube and the likes.
GOOGLE - out of eleven results:
- 1st is an image strip
- 2nd to 9th are YouTube listings with thumbnails
- 10th is basically soft 404 for a collection of videos from a global TV brand (the page is there with a message explaining that the video content is GONE).
- 11th is supposed to be a collection of photos but is another 'soft 404' from a global magazine brand (301 redirect to their 404 page)
- 1st is an image strip
- 2nd YouTube
- 3rd major YouTube competitor
- 4th link to Bing videos
- 5th strip of YouTube thumbnails
- 6th the same major YouTube competitor
- 7th YouTube
- 8th suggested related searches
- 9th-14th - picture compilations from smaller websites
No 404s, all live results.
Bing is trusting content from bigger sites. It also thinks that people are likely to want video. The little guys aren't near the top but they're still there on the page.
The ONLY non-Google listings on Google's page 1 are irrelevant pages from global brands.
For this search, basically all of the "major" search engines... (here's a politically-correct sample: Google, Bing, Blekko, DuckDuckGo)... whether they integrate videos or put them on a separate search tab, concluded that users want videos, and that, within those videos, for this query, YouTube overwhelmingly predominates.
You might say that dogs+cats+funny has for years virtually defined YouTube. This particular search is skewed way, way, way more to YouTube than many searches you might come up with. Some of the engines cluster results and allow you to expand a cluster. Others expand to various degrees on their own. There's lots to be discussed about the degree to which Google is currently expanding and, IMO, how it's still testing how well a linear ordering works.
|IMO motives aside it's partly lazy engineering, better the devil they know. |
I don't think it's lazy. They've been testing an incredible number of interface variants, and this is one that will allow them to triangulate all of the other sort orders they've come up with. I think they've simply been crunching numbers for a long time on this one, and it probably was and is the subject of a lot internal debate at Google. Much has been discussed about it here, and I can understand the frustration anybody feels on searches like this one if they're not YouTube or whatever else Google returns that predominates.
|A few news sites with stories on funny cat and dog moments. |
Blekko (which you can count in to give you a psychological explanation of humor when you include "funny" or "jokes" in a query) returned a Huffington Post article among its web results, but that in turn linked to several YouTube videos. ;)
A quick note about Bing Video Search, not exactly on topic, but IMO related to what Google is returning in its Universal results. A friend, not a search professional, but knowing that I'm interesting in both search and video, very recently mentioned the new Bing Video Search as by far the best video search he'd seen, particularly noting that he felt it gave exposure to many video search sites that previously he hadn't known about or that he'd needed to browse.
Here it is, and I tried it for this search...
It displayed roughly 150 video thumbnails for the query... a lot of scrolling... so I only had the patience to get an overall impression... but from what I can see, maybe all but five of these 150 videos were from YouTube. I don't think that this means that Bing has got a deal with Google. I think it accurately suggests the preference, or likely preference, for the YouTube videos in this particular search.
I should also note that I think that video search is seeded by topic and by simplistic word matching, but it is then driven a lot by popularity, time spent viewing, perhaps some personalization picked up by related click-throughs, etc... so popularity is not an unfair way to rank these. It's not like keyword relevance can dig into the subtleties of dog+cat+funny. Bing's video results suggest to me that, in terms of popularity, Google's results probably aren't all that biased.
That doesn't mean we have to like these results, or that there isn't a better way to sort and display them, but I do feel that Google has been working through something that is genuine, but getting the data has been taking a long time.
<offtopic> With regard to that last video, a search for Google.com, it's proof that sex sells, that popularity is a ranking factor, and perhaps that many people have bad taste. In any event, it's got 7,614,912 views; and the video's poster has 665 videos in her channel. Beyond the obvious crass jokes that come to mind, I think there's something to be learned from this particular result about how video can get you on page one for extremely competitive terms. I wouldn't simply dismiss it.</offtopic>
|but it is then driven a lot by popularity, time spent viewing, perhaps some personalization picked up by related click-throughs, etc... |
@Robert Charlton how is popularity determined?
I will also have to add that when a youtube video is embedded on a third party site, time viewed on such site is also counted in favor of the youtube video for ranking purposes and for the keyword for which the user landed on the third party page.
it is not just the time viewed but the act of embedding the video by the third party site is considered in favor of the youtube video.
and on your offtopic note,do you thing that the author of the video with 620+ in her Google+ circles is also a measure of popularity?
Shouldn't "image search" be added to this thread title? Perhaps I'm the only one noticing on particular image searches the favoring/clustering of youtube.com in Google image search. It does indicate to me that people don't care about image search because there really isn't any mention of this. One response in the thread I started about 3 weeks ago. How things have changed!
|brotherhood of LAN|
Thanks for your thoughts Robert, strong arguments as to why YT should dominate those SERPs. I guess I'm in favour of showing the alternatives since most users would be familiar with how to discover more content within YT itself.