Getting a natural result on Google’s first page is the holy grail of SEO and it’s now harder than ever. But the search engine giant has made no secret of its increasing preference for blended search results comprised of everything from images, to maps and social media posts. The result? Publishers with video content now have an unmatched opportunity to ramp up their search rankings.
Google’s growing enthusiasm for video means that smaller and newer sites – those who wouldn’t have ranked highly under traditional SEO – are taking on more established sites when it comes to search rankings by building out their webpages with video assets. But video SEO success is far from guaranteed and ensuring video content ranks highly in search results continues to pose problems for many brands looking to strengthen their online presence.
To truly take advantage of video’s potential for boosting SEO, brands and publishers must ensure that, not only is their content both entertaining and valuable to their target audiences, but that their video is optimised for search engines, with a metadata strategy focused on the keywords and phrases most relevant to those audiences.
Improve your video SEO and drive more traffic to your site by following these key tips:
- Don’t overload your video title with keywords. Google continues to emphasise the importance of writing for people, rather than search engine robots, and it can penalise sites in search rankings for those which overload their video titles and descriptions with keywords. Ensure you’re writing these in a way that’s engaging and relevant to your audience and use a clear title with accurate tags to concisely explain what the content is about. Think about how and why a user would come across your video, what they want to learn, and factor into the title.
- Invest in a simple video site map. Attaching tags to your video can certainly have a positive impact on SEO, but only if you have a video site map exposing those tags to search engines. Creating one and submitting it to Google is well worth the investment.
- Thumbnail quality matters. Using a compelling thumbnail with your video content can boost user clicks, more so than using a generic ‘click here’ video icon. Higher user engagement in turn will impact your SEO results.
- Use Schema.org HTML tags. These are increasingly important to Google and major search providers which rely on the tags to improve the display of search results, making it simpler for people to find the web pages appropriate to their search. Using the itemscope attribute to identify your content as video can drive up your SEO results. Check out the website for guidance on how to use it and general instructions on identifying video using HTML tags.
- Use ‘video’ in title and descriptions. While you should avoid stuffing as many keywords as possible into your video title and descriptions, using some major terms – ‘video’ and ‘how to,’ for example – will boost the likelihood of your content returning a video thumbnail result. If you can incorporate these words in a natural way, it can certainly make a difference.
- Ensure your site is optimised. Before making changes to your video settings, it’s important to ensure your site is SEO optimised. Without this, the most flawless video SEO is worthless!
- Consider video placement. It’s important to help Google easily recognise your content as video. You’ll notice results from the seemingly small change of putting your video at the top of the page, for example.
- Encourage user engagement. Encouraging users to post comments on your video is a great means of driving engagement and increasing your rankings.
- Attach a video transcript to its timeline in YouTube. YouTube enables users to place captions on video, attaching the transcript of a video to its timeline. This enables users to look for specific videos by phrase since the transcript can be searched and indexed by the search engines. YouTube remains one of the highest ranking search engines and continues to provide a great opportunity for building your brand with video. With every video posted to a YouTube channel, you can boost the odds of your brand name appearing in natural searches thanks to tagging and indexing.
As Google’s strategy for indexing video content becomes more sophisticated over time, competition for video results will undoubtedly rise, but video will continue to play a valuable and unique role in SEO. But it will never guarantee results without a well-thought metadata strategy – and without being optimised for indexing and discovery by Web crawlers and search engines.
Even more fundamental to success with video is ensuring that content is valuable to its audience in the first place. Video continues to prove itself an unmatched medium for story-telling, entertaining and connecting with viewers on an emotional level. Powerful, engaging content, when optimised for discovery, and coupled with the likes of social media, provides an unparalleled means of boosting brand awareness and engagement – and, ultimately, of driving-up impact and ROI.