Many business are hooked on using video marketing as part of their overall digital marketing efforts. But often the SEO potential for that video is ignored or undervalued.
If optimised correctly, video SEO (VSEO) can be an extremely powerful form of content and supercharge your overall SEO strategy, in more ways than one.
So what exactly is video SEO?
To increase the ranking of your website on Google, it’s critical to optimize the content strategically. The goal is help search engine bots crawl your content, understand it and index the data to match relevant search queries.
The better SEO juice you create, the higher your content will rank, allowing people to discover your website and increase your traffic.
When it comes to video SEO, the same rules apply and should be given the same SEO love as a product page or blog post. Video SEO is simply optimising your video to be indexed and rank on the search engine results pages for relevant keyword searches.
But video SEO differs from regular SEO, because Google cannot “watch” video. Whilst Google are fairly generous about ranking videos in the video tab of Google, it’s fussy when it comes to ranking you within universal search.
So to better help the bots understand your video and rank it in relation to organic search terms, you’ll need to use other strategies.
Whether you upload videos to You Tube or Vimeo and embed links into your website or use one of the many video platforms such as Wistia or Vidyard to ‘self-host’ videos on your website, is down to why you want to rank: brand awareness or actual conversions?
If you’re wanting to raise the profile of your business, You Tube is a free and easy option. As a search engine with millions of users, creating quality content that searchers are looking for, means your brand can reach a new audience, who will – hopefully – delve deeper via your website. Plus, high ranking You Tube videos do help with ranking on Google.
Vimeo offers little of the benefits of You Tube from a search ability perspective. However it does enable a secure hosting platform that is is ad free.
If however you’re looking to use video to specifically generate site traffic through search engines and drive leads and conversions, then self-hosting is a wiser option.
This will give you the ability to use SEO tools for better results and SEO Juice.
If your goal is to encourage a conversion event, like a sign-up, subscription, or a share, then you want to drive viewers to your site to watch your video. That is where video SEO can be a valuable tool. (WISTIA)
Before you upload videos (or even make them) it’s important to do video-related keyword research. This will help you identify what audiences / customers are searching for and what you want to rank for.
It also shows what other videos are out there, and whether you can create content that can improve the audience experience / questions and will enable you to better compete.
Relevant titles and descriptions
Use keywords in titles and meta descriptions to improve your chances of getting noticed by bots.
It’s equally important not to keyword stuff or Google will penalise you.
And always write for people and include user-friendly language. Ask yourself, what terms will humans most likely search for?
Optimise your video page for SEO
It’s likely your video will sit on a webpage with other content.
The easiest way for your video to rank is to ensure the page itself is fully optimised. Keyword-relevant titles, descriptions and relevant page copy throughout, internal and external links, photo names and alt tags.
The page should also be relevant to your video: without this the video will rank poorly.
A thumbnail is a small image that visually summarises what your video is about. It’s the image that will sit on your website “on top” of your video and also what will be shown in Google’s search results
Thumbnails are key to winning over both users and Google.
Google cannot directly “see” your thumbnail but thumbnails are proven to increate play rates which in turn shows Google that your video is worthy of ranking.
Custom human thumbnails get 30% better play rates than videos without. Wistia
Thumbnails should include a descriptive title (different to the name of the video) and an attention-grabbing image. Getting a human face in (if your video includes humans) is even better.
Take specific images during your video shoot and create a fancy template in Canva,
- Be colourful and attention grabbing but keep it clear, bold, and simple. Make sure to be consistent with the rest of your branding.
- Avoid clickbait imagery and headlines that you can’t deliver on.
- Including a face is a good way to connect with viewers as it makes your more relatable, trustworthy and personable,
- A play button to your image works as a clear call to action – eg watch me!
- Use short and direct text and highlight relevant keywords.
On many video platforms you will have the ability to upload a transcript – a written document of the video’s audio.
A transcript is a document that repeats the audio content of a video into text form and gives a platform for bots to crawl and understand what your content is about.
A good way to achieve this is to include a text description of the video, or even a full transcript.
Google typically ranks just one video per page, so if you have multiple videos ensure the most important – and relevant – is first.
From a user perspective put the video above the fold, which in turn will encourage more plays and a more favourable result for Google bots.
Positioning the video towards the top and making it large will indicate to a visitor that the video is the focus of the page and not just an afterthought.
Another way to use video for SEO is to try and get GOOGLE to use your video and description as a rich snippet
This is when Google displays information about a video, letting searchers know that, should they click through to your website, a video is ready for them.
Video-rich snippets help you stand out from the page 1 search results giving you a better chance of a click and traffic to your website.
This is when having a stand out thumbnail that summarises the content of your video is even better to maximise the clicks.
To be in with a chance of a featured snippet, you’ll need to self host your video ensuring you get the Google juice rather than Video or You Tube.
Once you’ve embedded your video you’ll need to let Google know by adding the required Schema.org code to your page and submitting an XML sitemap within Google’s Search Console.
And if you’re already ranking for any high-volume keywords, it is well worth the effort, as the increase in conversions should bring significantly more traffic to your site.
Video XML sitemap
You should also maintain a video-specific XML sitemap that contains data about all the videos hosted on your site.
Again, Google provide a comprehensive guide on how to do this, but the key things to include are:
- Play page URL
- Thumbnail URL
- Raw video file URL and/or the video player URL
Be sure to submit your video sitemap in Search Console, and check that it has been indexed correctly.
Don’t rely on Google alone to help with ranking. Instead use your circle of influence to get more eyeballs (which in turn helps SEO). Whilst social signals are not a direct ranking factor, posting to your socials will help get your video in front of people who may then link to it.
Also consider paid ads on key social networks to drive traffic to your video.