No mo’ author images: making up for lost clicks with video snippets

*Please note that the information in this post is now completely obsolete. But fear not. I have another method for improving CTR which Google has not (yet) squashed, which I address here:

Cited from: Improving CTR, rankings, conversions with reviews | Lawyernomics

On June 25th Google engineer John Mueller announced via Google+ that Google would be removing author images from search results.


In my experience, attorneys who were investing in SEO during the time that Google’s authorship program was initially launched were some of the earliest adopters.

Studies have examined how authorship images in search results impact click through rates (CTR).

Overwhelmingly, the consensus was that it was beneficial to have an author image displayed next to search results, and that lower ranking pages could actually “steal” clicks from higher ranking pages, because the user was drawn to the link with the image next to it.

As of June 25, 2014 this hack for improving CTR no longer exists, but I submit that video snippets might be a viable way to make up for any loss in CTR your site may experience in the aftermath of the removal of author images.

What are video snippets?

When Google is able to detect that a webpage contains a video, it will display a video thumbnail next to that page in search results, like this:

Video Snippet Example

How can I get this for my pages which contain videos?

Glad you asked. There are two methods for telling Google about you webpages that contain videos, thus resulting in display of video snippets:

  1. Using a video sitemap. This is the most direct way to tell Google about your videos.For instructions on creating a video sitemap with the most popular video hosting providers, please reference this post by video SEO expert Phil Nottingham.
  2. Using language on embedded videos. If possible, I suggest that you or your webmaster take the time to create a video sitemap.However, if you only have a couple of videos on a couple of pages you may find it easier to simply mark-up the video embed using language. This article from Google Webmaster Tools will walk you through the process.

*Note: If you use Wistia to host your video content, they actually have an embed feature which automatically adds language to the embed code.

Items to consider before you get started with video snippets

Not all search queries make sense for video snippets

I am of the opinion that there are certain search queries for which it can actually be detrimental to include a video snippet next to your site in search results.

A colleague and I actually performed research on that very topic.

The question driving our research was: Will someone who searches a transactional query like [Car Accident Lawyer Houston] want to click a result with a video snippet, or is video simply not the type of content that is best for addressing this query? Our research indicated that the latter was true.

However, for queries that are more informational in nature such as [what to do if my car insurance claim is denied], a short video with the answer to that question may have an extremely positive impact on CTR.

Which leads nicely to my next point, which is:

Don’t use just any video; address your audience’s questions

If your page is optimized for the query [statue of limitations for car accidents in texas] and you embed a video which address a far more broad topic such as “what is a personal injury lawsuit” the visitor will be likely to leave your site dissatisfied with the information they were given.

Make sure that your video snippet strategy considers the actual content of the video for which the snippet is being displayed. Otherwise, this will become little more than a SPAM tactic for increasing clicks, without actually helping you get clients.

Video snippets alone don’t justify an investment in video

The fact that Google will display video snippets in search results next to your site is great, but it does not constitute enough benefit to justify an investment in video content.

If you are trying to decide whether to invest in video you should start with the question: Why?

If the answer’s include things like “Video is the optimal way to convey important information to our audience” or, “Video is necessary to reach a new audience” or, “Video will help us improve conversion rates on our site” then go for it! The point is that the video snippets alone likely won’t justify the investment.

The gist

Video snippets in search results may help you maintain a healthy CTR in the aftermath of Google removing author images from their results. However, the snippets alone are not enough of a reason, alone, to invest in video.