The latest New Media Breakfast covered the topic of Video for Business. As is becoming customary, I was invited to do a short slot on the search engine optimisation (SEO) aspects of the topic. Here’s what I talked about in relation to SEO & video, both in Glasgow last month and this morning in Edinburgh.
Why Video is Great for SEO
Reason 1: There’s less competition for ranks
- Fact 1: Videos are now featured in a huge proportion of search engine results pages, especially on Google (that’s because Google knows people want to watch them!)
- Fact 2: Compared to the number of “normal” text and image based pages, the number of videos online is tiny.
The moral of the story: the lack of competition means that getting video to rank in Google is often a lot easier than getting normal pages to rank.
As an example, Kim McAllistar of Impact Online came to the breakfast in Glasgow and was inspired to do a short piece to video immediately afterwards. A recent Google search ranked her video on the first page, yet her blog post on the same topic was nowhere to be seen.
Reason 2: Two listings instead of one
Since the arrival of Google’s universal search (result pages that blend different types of results e.g. “normal” pages, images, maps or video), Kim could have had both her blog post and the video ranking on the first page (she just needed a decent optimisation company!). In other words, it’s a second bite of the cherry. Having your cake and eating it.
Reason 3: Video Search Engines
More searches are carried out on YouTube than any other search engine barring Google. Sure, it’s a bit different. It may be less business focused, but that doesn’t mean that people are only on YouTube to muck about. Many are researching and looking to be educated. The use video for professional development is only going to increase.
Reason 4: General ranking boost
Some claim that simply having a video in a web page can increase the ranking of that page. Certainly though good, engaging, well-marketed videos will indirectly lead to increases in your search engine ranks.
Reason 5: AdWords
How to gain Video Search Rankings
Google can’t watch TV
You and I can watch a video and we can easily take in the audio and visual experience and decide what the video is about.
Search engines on the other hand generally can’t tell the difference between a plane and a dog in a video. In fact, until recently we believe Google didn’t even make an attempt to “watch” videos.
So instead search engines rely on “signals” associated with a video. Those things that they are good at understanding such as the text on the page that the video is on.
The art of video SEO is to work out what signals are available to search engines, and then work on reproducing them.
- Just in case there is any doubt: Make great videos that people want to watch and market them well. If you can do that and follow these tips you can expect to wallow in the joy that is extra search engine derived visitors.
- Use the YouTube keyword tool to find out what people are searching for on YouTube and use the phrases for inspiration of what videos to make. “How to…” is always a good place to start.
- Do a Google search for your best keywords. Do video results appear? If so what would it take for you to outrank the existing videos? If there aren’t any, could you make a video that is highly relevant to that phrase?
- Post on your own site: Someone linking to your video on your site will bring more SEO benefit to your site’s overall search engine ranks than the same link pointing to your video on YouTube. Yet for many posting to YouTube will generate more views. Dilemma time! I quite like a hybrid strategy. Post to your site first, then a week later post it to other sites. Alternatively have longer versions on your site, with a shorter version on YouTube.
- Add your keywords into as many of the associated text elements as you reasonably can without upsetting the user experience. This particularly refers to the title, description and tags. File name may also be a factor.
- Include the keyword “video”. Yes even on dedicated video search engines people will use the word video, but it really comes into it’s own for getting traffic from normal Google searches.
- Add transcripts. Great for users and great for search engines. It’s also worth making use of YouTube’s auto caption facility. If this isn’t a ranking factor yet, it’s likely to be at some point.
- Build up a theme for your YouTube channel. Posting lots of videos about different aspects of a topic will likely bring more search traffic than just having one. The number of channel subscribers may also be a factor
- Encourage sharing, embedding, ratings, comments & subscriptions as all these factors could be being used for ranking signals. Even if they are not, achieving this will increase views of the video, which is also likely to be a signal.
- Use video site maps
- Geo tag your videos on YouTube as they can then appear in Google Places (maps). (with thanks to @northo for that great tip)
Future of Video SEO
We are a long way off the point where Google can tell that you have a water cooler in every shot of the video that you are trying to get ranked for “Water cooler”. If you have ever played with Google Googles you will know that Google is still struggling (but making impressive progress) with simple images, never mind a video made up of thousands of images. That’s not to say that they won’t be investing in trying to get there. No doubt they will be in some shape or form.
Where they are making real progress though is in audio. Their speech to text software, whilst still flawed, is impressive. Whilst they may not be trying to look for keywords in the audio of your videos just yet, they are probably pretty good at checking that what you say is the transcript for the video is in fact the transcript and not some keyword stuffed text you decided to add.
Of course video search is not all Google. There are other search engines focused on ranking video are ahead of Google, at least in some aspects of what they do.
Perhaps what’s more important than the technology is the importance of video and the importance of your video being found and ranked by search engines. That is only going one way. Video simply has to be part of your online strategy sooner rather than later.