It Should Be Harder To Rank In Google’s Universal Results Than This

Filed in Google, SEO by Matt McGee on December 14, 2011 4 Comments

google-logoIt’s no secret that well-optimized videos can be a great way to increase visibility, especially in Google’s universal/blended results. Forrester Research did a well-known blog post a couple years ago, which estimated that videos are 50 times more likely to rank on page one in Google than regular, text-based content. The article was called “The Easiest Way to a First-Page Ranking on Google,” and there’s one file-sharing site that seems to have really taken that to heart.

Have a look at this screenshot of a recent search for [u2 i believe in father christmas]:


First of all, Google, what’s up with giving a file-sharing site such high visibility? (Google’s been under a fair amount of pressure to fight online piracy and has already removed some such terms from its autocomplete and Google Instant tools.)

Second of all, Google, that site in the second position is pulling the wool over your eyes. As you can pretty much tell from the screengrab, there’s not really a video on the landing page. I don’t want to link to it, but here’s the URL if you want to cut-and-paste:

If you check it out, you’ll find that the “video” is really just one of those screensaver-type things that shows color patterns on a black background. Like this:


Now, I understand that, as far as Googlebot is concerned — that’s a video. Googlebot has no way to actually watch the video. It just knows that there’s a video file embedded there. And I also know that this song is something of an outlier; it was only sold for a limited time to raise funds for (RED) in late 2008. So there’s not a ton of results to go along with this song.

But still, Google … is it really that easy to rank at the top of page one? Just find a fairly non-competitive query, post a non-video on the page, and …. BAM! Instant SEO win for a site offering a song for free. Illegally.

It should be harder to rank in Google’s universal results than that.

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  1. SearchCap: The Day In Search, December 14, 2011 | December 14, 2011
  1. Arsen says:

    Good catch!! And still no action taken from G. Just checked that search and it’s still there.

  2. Dan says:

    Stuff like this slips through Googlebot all the time. The more they integrate new content into the SERPs, the more room for abuse there is, and the longer it’ll take to see Google fix such an error. This reminds me of early Google Places gaming when non-physical locations were able to rank in Google Place’s lineup for locally targeted SEO phrases.

  3. Matt G says:

    The same company that joined with some of the most popular sites on the web to protest SOPA and PIPA legislation display piracy websites in their top spots. Yikes. Looks like they’ve taken notice though, as of March, 2012, the piracy site has been removed.

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