SEO can be a mysterious thing. Behind closed doors, Google’s master algorithm-smiths fashion the search ranking rules that are life and death to so many businesses. Yet, despite the army of experts selling search engine optimisation advice, no one except Google knows exactly how the algorithm works.
The good news for marketers is that the details are less important than the essential principle of SEO: the algorithm is always trying to find better ways of connecting people to what they’re really looking for.
Not only does video power the world’s second largest search engine, YouTube – which has 2.1 billion users and a reach of 74% of the US population – it’s also increasingly a powerful factor in Google searches.
Just over a quarter of Google searches will now generate a result with a video thumbnail (also called a ‘rich snippet’), and pages with video are 53 times more likely to appear on that all-important first page of search results if they contain a video.
There are various reasons why people prefer video – it’s multisensory, more dynamic and more emotive than text or static images – but what marketers need to know is that people do generally prefer it, and well-produced video will strengthen your SEO as a result.
Video marketing & your SEO strategy
Video’s strength in search is not in itself a reason to make videos. Any marketing spend needs to be justified as part of a well-thought-out strategy. Why do you want to improve SEO? Is it to increase site visits, are you more interested in brand awareness or is conversion the only thing that matters?
The answer will dictate how you should approach video for search purposes. The key choice is between hosting the video yourself or hosting on YouTube (or one of its rivals).
The latter offers the greatest chance of people discovering your video directly via YouTube. The former is probably better if you want site visits, because if YouTube video is embedded on your site, Google is more likely to send the searcher to the version on YouTube, not your website.
Which route you take will itself influence how you should approach your video strategy and video production itself, but for the sake of this blog let’s focus on optimising video SEO for search results on Google.
4 ways to improve video SEO on Google with video content
1. Make videos about the right things
Videos are only likely to be discovered on Google if: a) people are searching for content on a topic; and b) they particularly want to watch a video about it.
If you come up with a genius idea for a video about making Halloween cabbages instead of pumpkins, it will get no views on Google, because no one’s searching for that (probably…). Similarly ‘Samsung review’ is more likely to be video material in searchers’ minds than ‘Samsung corporate accounts’.
Think about how viewers will discover your video before you decide what it’s going to be about. You can use sites like Semrush to backwards engineer keywords from search terms, but a good rule for SEO is to put yourself in your viewers’ shoes. Is this something they would search for? What words would they type in to find it? How would your video meet their needs?
2. Put the video on the right search engine results pages
Unless you’ve created a page specifically for that video, it’s likely you’ll want to put it on an existing, high-performing landing page, to give it the best shot of ranking highly on Google.
However, video will only lift a page’s SEO if it’s relevant to that page. There’s no point shoehorning a video onto an unrelated page that you want to boost. SEO efforts need to be spent bringing traffic to your site.
To help Google index the video – and to make life easier for your viewers – keep the video high up the page, ideally above the fold. Also, try not to have too many videos on the same page or to replicate the same video on different pages, as this can confuse the scraping bot.
3. Don’t forget the technical stuff when it comes to content marketing
Talking of scraping, there are some best practices for improving the chances of a video ranking highly in a search. Metadata, tagging and titles matter, both for the video and the host page itself. Again, think about being both discoverable (via keywords) and compelling; almost like you would with social media.
Your choice of thumbnail is important too – it should be relevant and eye-catching, to stand out against all the other videos competing for limited attention.
It’s also a good idea to get your closed captions right, and possibly provide a transcript of the video, as that makes it easier to index.
4. Make it good
It may sound stupendously obvious, but if your video doesn’t engage and energise people and give them what they want, it won’t get you very far.
Though clickbait may win you views, Google’s aforementioned algorithm-smiths are constantly trying to figure out how to stop people gaming the system. And your viewers are unlikely to become customers or to sign up to anything if they feel duped into watching a shallow, badly-produced video.
Video isn’t a miracle cure for SEO or anything else. Don’t expect it to turn a dud page or a dud strategy into superstars. But because it’s the way people want to consume content, video is an effective way of supercharging your SEO and marketing strategy, if you get it right.
As ever, this comes down to approaching video production strategically and focusing on doing it well.
Wooshii is an innovative video production company with the capacity to create video anywhere in the world, in any format, using a talent network of over 16,000 plus experts. Wooshii works with world-leading organisations across multiple industry sectors to enable consistent and reliable video production at scale, supporting a wide variety of internal and external marketing and communication functions.
Need help devising your video strategy or perhaps want to discuss your productions needs, give Wooshii a call today.