Google SERPs Video Thumbnails – Not Just Youtube

Google SERPs Video Thumbnails – Not Just Youtube

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Well, I am surprised that I have not seen anyone really talk about this much, however, there are quite a few sites other than Youtube which are successfully obtaining video thumbnails in the Google universal search results pages. Furthermore, it seems that there is really no rhyme or reason as to how these sites are getting the thumbnails to appear, but there must be a way.

So far, I have found the following video platforms have thumbnail results in Google organic SERPs:

  1. Youtube – of course, we all know this, and we all know that Google owns this one….
  2. Google Video – ok, again, we know why this one works.
  3. Metacafe – I noticed that Metacafe was successfully getting thumbnails in the SERPs for some time now.
  4. Videojug – I noticed this one pop up about 2 months ago, which initially led me to believe that this may have something to do with the Google video sitemaps release… more about that shortly. You can find this easily by searching for
  5. – I also noticed this one about 2 months ago.
  6. – Take a look at this site as they have a very nifty, unique player.
  7. There may likely be others but these were the ones that I was able to find in Google. Let us know if you see others.

As for those of you that want to know about Yahoo, I have only seen the following 3 sites appear with thumbnails, Youtube, Metacafe, and, of course, Yahoo Video.

I have spent hours trying to figure this out with little luck. Earlier, I mentioned that perhaps this had to do with the release of the Google video sitemaps. The reason that I thought perhaps this was the key is that I started noticing these other sites pop up right around the same time that support for video sitemaps was released. However, if you read Google’s own description, you will see that they state quite clearly that using the new sitemaps protocol….

“enables you to publish and syndicate online video content and its relevant metadata to Google in order to make it searchable in the Google Video index”

They do not mention anything about Google search in general. In fact, I did a little test of my own only to find that adding the sitemap did, in fact, get my video within the Google video results but did nothing for the universal search results. In fact, for the particular video test that I did, I made sure to build hundreds of backlinks (slowly of course) to the video just to see if I could get the thumbnail to appear. No luck.

I also took a look at the pages, the players, embed code, and other factors to see if these sites all had something in common that others are missing. So far, no luck with that.

One thing that makes this even more difficult is that I have also spoken with a few of these platforms and they indicated to me that they were unaware of anything in particular that they did to get the thumbnails to appear.

So, here is the question…. Does anyone know or have an idea as to how this is happening? Most people that I have talked to thus far think that this is a result of Google hand-picking those sites which appear or may have to do with partnerships they have formed with these platforms. However, knowing Google, this does not seem impossible, but does seem less than ideal as Google clearly does all it can to automate these sorts of things. Someone must have an idea how this is happening. I wondered if it has anything to do with a threshold of backlinks or page rank whereby a video will only show with a thumbnail if the page has X number of backlinks. Again, I cant seem to find a consistent answer for this.

Does anyone know how this is accomplished? I would think that if there was a magical formula that worked, that some of the other big players like Truveo would be showing thumbnails as well. In fact, it would not surprise me if some of these platforms are puzzled as well as to how this is accomplished and are working feverishly to figure it out.

Please share with us your findings so we can help to educate others as well.


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