This is interesting, and could, potentially, have implications for your 2021 content approach.
This week, Google has begun testing a new carousel of short-form video results for selected queries, providing direct links to relevant TikTok and Instagram Reels video clips.
The move aligns with the rising popularity of short-form video content, enabling Google to tap into that trend, while also maintaining the relevance of its search results.
And there's a key element to Google's lean-in to short clips.
As noted by TechCrunch:
"Both Instagram and TikTok videos were available in the Short Videos row. When clicked, you’re taken to the web version of the social platform - not the native mobile app, even if it’s installed on your device. The end result is that Google users are more likely to remain on Google, as all it takes is a tap on the back arrow to return to the search results after watching the video."
So Google's essentially looking to become a broader search engine for these short-form clips, showing you all the relevant results from both TikTok and Reels, while you would also expect it to add in YouTube Shorts videos as well. If that listing is dictated by content engagement - i.e. likes and comments per video - that could make Google a better short-form video search engine than any of the individual platforms themselves could provide, as it would be a comprehensive listing of what's available on all platforms, as opposed to just the one at a time.
Of course, that could change. The platforms could demand that Google provide direct links to their apps instead, or they could work to limit linkage to the web versions of their clips. But the question would then come down to exposure versus control. Is it of more benefit for the platforms to boost exposure for their content via relevant Google search results, or is it more important to get people to download their apps?
It seems like the latter would be the more ideal option - but then again, having your clips appear in search results could also drive traffic. It might not be as clear-cut as it seems.
For content creators, this could become an important consideration, depending on where Google goes with this. Getting onto the front page of Google remains key to maximizing discovery, and if creating relevant short-form videos provides another way to do this, that could make it a valuable SEO consideration, depending on how, and when, Google looks to display these video carousels.
In the above example, the carousel is shown in a search for 'Packers', which is not necessarily a time-sensitive search, but it does relate to trending content, with the NFL season currently in-progress. If Google limits these results to trending topics only, it may not have a heap of value for non-topical brands, while you would also assume that Google would need to have a certain amount of videos indexed for a chosen topic to be able to display the listing.
That could limit its marketing potential, but if the option proves popular, and Google looks to expand it to more search queries, it could be valuable. That could provide more incentive for marketers to create, say, 'how-to' videos on TikTok in order to link into relevant searches, or seek to answer commonly searched queries in their niche via short clips.
Which, in turn, would make TikTok, Reels and Shorts all much bigger considerations in your planning. If you weren't considering TikTok clips before, that could change if indeed Google expands this test.
It's fairly limited for now, and there's not a lot to go on. But it may be worth keeping an eye on searches within the Google app for your target keywords and niche. If you start to see the short video carousel showing up, it might be worth some further investigation, and consideration in your planning.