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On December 7th, 2023, Google announced a notable change in its approach to video content indexing on websites. This evolution has far-reaching implications, influencing how pages with embedded videos are assessed and categorized within the intricate web of search algorithms. 

The examination of  Google Search Console’s video indexing report reveals one primary issue affecting numerous pages--Google has determined that “video is not the main content of the page”.  This issue is widespread, affecting multiple websites in different industries as evidenced by the screenshots below, each representing a distinct client.  

 

Client A 

google indexing example

 

Client B 

google indexing example

 

Client C  

google indexing example

 

Why a video may not be indexed

Google’s rationale asserts that videos eligible for indexing must be the primary focus or main content of the page.  The following are three  examples of page types where the video is supplementary to the textual content, and not the primary focus of the page:  

  • A blog post where the video is complementary to the text rather than the primary content of the page 
  • A product details page with a complementary video 
  • A video category page that lists multiple videos of equal prominence” 

 

Fortunately, there is a solution to this situation, and it is one that Google is has recommended-- implementing video structured data. This leverages the VideoObject to mark up your video with explicit information such as the description, thumbnail URL, upload date, and duration. With this information, Google will be able to publish a standard video rich result as shown here: 

video rich results page

 

How to implement video structured data 

The following 5 steps are Google’s overview of how to build, test, and release structured data. 

  1. Add the required properties. Based on the format you're using, learn where to insert structured data on the page. Using a CMS? It may be easier to use a plugin that's integrated into your CMS.  
  2. Using JavaScript? Learn how to generate structured data with JavaScript.  
  3. Follow the guidelines
  4. Validate your code using the Rich Results Test and fix any critical errors. Consider also fixing any non-critical issues that may be flagged in the tool, as they can help improve the quality of your structured data (however, this isn't necessary to be eligible for rich results).  
  5. Deploy a few pages that include your structured data and use the URL Inspection tool to test how Google sees the page. Be sure that your page is accessible to Google and not blocked by a robots.txt file, the noindex tag, or login requirements. If the page looks okay, you can ask Google to recrawl your URLs. Note: Allow time for re-crawling and re-indexing. Remember that it may take several days after publishing a page for Google to find and crawl it.  
  6. To keep Google informed of future changes, we recommend that you submit a sitemap. You can automate this with the Search Console Sitemap API

If you are using Bightcove as your video CDN, note that they have released a plug-in for their player.  See this link for more information: https://player.support.brightcove.com/plugins/video-seo-schema-generator-plugin.html  

 

Why did Google make this change to video indexing? 

Overall it was to improve their indexing of page content when there were video elements which may not be related to the content.  An example is sidebar videos which typically may be changed frequently.  The ownness now is on marketers to use the VideoObject schema.org structure to help Google’s accuracy in indexing their website content.