Google Video, Now a Search Engine

Google Video has made the switch to being a video search engine with an index of video from sites across the web, using an interface similar to the company’s image search engine. This follows up on an announcement to this effect from January, after Google admitted defeat in the video-sharing space to YouTube and bought it for $1.65 million.

Clicking on an item in the Google Video search results now brings up a frame with your selection and related videos at the top of the window, with the video displayed in its original context below. This is a different approach than Google’s new Universal Search initiative, where video results are actually embedded on the page out of their context on the site where they’re actually hosted.

Google spokesperson Gabriel Stricker writes via email,

“On Google Video, users will now be able to watch videos from various websites via a web crawl…. This is part of the broader goal to innovate ‘video crawl,’ which lets users search for the world’s online video content, irrespective of where it may be hosted.”

When I did a search for “dancing dog” I had first-page results for Google Video, YouTube, GoFish, Vimeo, MySpace, Biku, and Yahoo Video. (Biku is an all-Chinese video-sharing site, so that’s pretty impressive.)

I was surprised to hear from Stricker that this is based on crawling the web, since all the results seem to come from known video-sharing sites. For instance, I can’t find anything in the way of official television content from one of the networks sites or their affiliates, except for things like free NBC Heroes clips on YouTube and MTV Laguna Beach episodes available for purchase on Google Video.

Google Video is not purely search-focused at this point, with featured content from AOL Video, for instance, getting prominent placement and direct links rather than search frame treatment. That does not seem like something that would fly on regular Google search.

The section’s main page now includes “blog buzz” — which lists its 10 most-linked-to recent videos according to its blog search tool, similar to Viral Video Chart — as well as its “movers and shakers” and top 10 based on views. Interestingly, the “upload your videos” option hasn’t left the building yet, and is still prominently featured.

Google seems to be getting its video properties in order; it reportedly plans to launch a French version of YouTube next Tuesday in what appears to be a soon-to-ramp-up international strategy. It is also testing a new bigger video player on YouTube today.

We are waiting for Google PR to answer follow-up questions and will update this post. More coverage from Google Operating System, Google Blogoscoped.