The late Steve Jobs once said, “We are in the era of digital video, and it’s a mess”. But what does that mean Mr. Jobs and how can we make things better?!
The answer to decluttering the world of video is Search. Consumers, in every moment of time, navigate this “mess” using video search. The success of a businesses’ content depends primarily on the ability to show up in such a search result. This is what video SEO is all about.
With that, let’s better understand how to make your videos hit the best possible targets for search engines, why video ranking is such an important factor for your business, ranking factors such as tags, transcripts and how audience response can have such an effect on your rankings. Most importantly, we can break down what exactly search engines look for in your videos. Ultimately, you will be able to take advantage of the easiest and best path to high rankings that video provides.
Before you think about how to rank your video assets, you need to first understand why this is so important. Creating videos has become a lot easier with platforms such as Promo offering over 12.5M high-quality clips with professionally edited music in their library, essentially giving you the wing to fly. Your videos can show up in a few different places; on video hosting sites such as Vimeo, Dailymotion and YouTube.
According to SimilarWeb, YouTube is the second most used site on the internet and the second most used search engine running only behind Google. As of today, Almost 5 billion videos are watched every single day and 23.35 billion visits per month. With such a strong desire to watch videos on a Google-owned platform, it’s a no-brainer that your video content has to excel here.
Pro Tip: Videos under 5 seconds won’t count by search engines, they want to see proof of engagement, they, therefore, filter out short plays.
Video SEO Is Fundamentally Different
Video SEO is driven much by user behavior as compared to typical SEO that is driven by relevance and authority. Note that this is one reason why great content triggers a response and makes your video rank against competitor SEO videos. Also, note that it is easier to rank higher with video than conventional search results. Search engines like Google and Bing have changed their treatment of organic search results over time to favor such assets. It is therefore important to focus on video search rankings and their impact on organic search.
The key: Videos attract links and improve general organic search rankings. Videos present dynamic content options in the form of slide decks, pages with transcripts as well as social media visuals. Despite the numerous video hosting sites available, YouTube still dominates with Facebook a close second.
Video Ranking Factors
The importance of video ranking factors cannot be undermined. Just like conventional search results, search engines use complex algorithms to build video SEO rankings. The best first action item is to consider the psyche of the various search engines. Every search engine such as Google or Bing wants to make more money. They, therefore, equate more views to more Ads (more views=more Ads). With this in mind, whenever you can deliver more engaging videos that people will stick around and watch, you are going to rank higher.
Search engines look for two main factors:
- Examine the audience’s interest in the video.
- Compare the relevance of the video to the specific search query.
Search engines’ algorithm changes all the time but these two principles remain the same. Though it is quite difficult to impart the first-factor directory, understanding it is key. As you have the upper hand on the second factor, here is your arsenal to make the best out of your videos to signal search engines about the relevancy of your video items.
Audience interest is measured through their engagement with your videos. Search engines measure audience interest through:
- Number of views
- View Velocity
- View Quality
- Video Quality
- Channel Subscription
- Subscription Velocity
The number of views over time and the rate of growth of your viewership affect your rankings significantly. It is essential to let this grow naturally rather than “cheat” since search engines can find out and penalize your business.
Important questions to ask yourself: Are people watching the whole video? Are you creating low-quality content (say watching 10 seconds out of a 2-minutes video)? Are the number of likes rising, showing user interest? Search engines understand all of this and more to rank your video.
Search engines measure the relevance of your video through:
- Keywords and Titles
- Video Descriptions
- Location Diversity
When beginning the creation process of each video, consider the appropriate keywords you’d use to accompany it and how you’d describe your video to capture the attention of the viewer.
Pro tip: Don’t buy views, stuff irrelevant keywords into your content and descriptions, bribe people for good reviews (keep ’em honest). Your account can be suspended or permanently deleted.
Selecting Your Video Topics
Users actually put in the search bar the exact topic of desired information. They look for help, answers, and guidance instead of keywords. Search engines understand this and so should you. Consider topics and phrases for keywords as in problems faced by your audience, updates etc. For instance, “Broken Relationship” is a keyword, consider using terms like “How To Fix A Broken Relationship” as a topic, which is more reasonable when it comes to video search. Focus your copy on topics as a broader and better way to generate audiences engagement than traditional keywords out of context.
- Use the search engines’ search suggests to pick up your topics.
- Use the search suggestions at the bottom of SERP.
- Use good online tools like answerthepublic.com to get related topics, questions, and phrases.
Include in tags:
- Misspellings (shocking but true)
- Broader Categories
Make sure to include misspellings in your tags to cater for all those who might fumble typing in your topic, for example, forty and fourty. Again, when for instance you are making a video about “Video SEO” you can include “Digital Marketing” as a broader category. Also, don’t forget to include entities when making a video. Consider, for instance, making a video on Video SEO, you’d want to include SEO in your tags.
Caution! Don’t use irrelevant phrases and don’t spam.
- Start with your most specific tags
- Organise tags into most relevant phrases
- Remove stop words like “AND”, “IF’, “BUT” etc.
- Type your tags in a text document and copy and paste into your YouTube or any other video site tags’ field.
- Use all the characters provided: 500 characters on YouTube
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Write Great Titles And Descriptions
Think of your video titles and descriptions as the magnet to pull your target audience in to watch your videos. The more compelling your video title and descriptions are, the more clicks you’ll get.
Rules for writing your video titles:
- Make sure your title is fully descriptive
- Include your target phrase in the title
- Make sure your title makes sense
- 60 characters or less
- Let your title be active
- Write for benefit
- Write for humor
*You can change your video titles later. If your video isn’t getting the views and rank you need, consider modifying the title.
Rules for video description:
- Include the target phrase once or twice
- Include a call to action
- Include takeaways
- Use all words: 800 in the case of YouTube
Note: no stuffing and no spamming
Make Great Thumbnails And Intros
Your thumbnails generate an instant emotional response to your videos.
Rules for creating great thumbnails:
- Don’t use credits or title shots as thumbnails, instead use a frame from the video itself
- Don’t use text unless you really need to
- Show faces with the emotion your video will reflect or demonstrating the particular activity
- Place your logo in the thumbnail when possible
- Use cards to send viewers to next video
- Ask them for feedback
- Send viewers to a playlist
Get Subscriptions, Comments, and Ratings
The more subscriptions, comments, and ratings you get, the more search engines consider your video to be engaging and thus rank your video higher. The simplest way to get subscriptions and comments, as well as ratings, is by ASKING for them right inside the content. There is no better way than to ask the viewer to leave a comment or subscribe to your channel, this has become commonplace and it’s no longer considered to be pushy.
Don’t forget to respond to comments politely and quickly. Don’t delete negative comments, transparency is hugely important for every company and a bad comment leaves you an opportunity to show your customer support and bring in new product believers.
Create a playlist that will give the users hint of your other videos so they can keep on watching your content one after the other.
Create An Optimized Playlist
Make a collection of your videos and group them under a common name to make it easier for your viewers to get access to all your videos. Creating a playlist is one of the best practices in order to help optimize all your videos. It improves viewership and overall rankings. Playlists drive secondary ranking signals and increase engagement. YouTube for instance tracks playlist’s performance and then uses it to boost all videos on that playlist. YouTube automatically queues videos in a particular playlist which is great for you to passively viewers continue watching. Playlists also help new videos get boosted when previous ones are already doing well.
Benefits of a playlist:
- They provide a powerful call to action for viewers
- They get their own title and description which allows you to optimize for broader topics
- Viewers can like and share videos in a playlist which shares even more content at once
- Your entire playlist can be embedded onto your website
Rules for YouTube playlist optimization:
- Create a topical playlist
- Group them into commonalities
- Write a fully descriptive title
- Embed your playlist on your website
- Suggest other playlists
Create An Optimized Channel
Your channel is your arsenal when it comes to video SEO. You have to give the whole page attention to properly optimize.
Factors to consider:
- Video upload frequency
- Video upload recency
- Channel subscribers
- Aggregate channel views
Pro Tip: Don’t fake anything. Google is smarter than you.
To make your channel as appealing as possible, customize your background image (2560×1440 pixel image and export as JPEG/PNG). The maximum background file is 4 megabytes. Again write an impressive descriptive title that highlights your business and offers brand consistency. Also link your YouTube page to your other social media pages on Facebook, Twitter etc.
- Set up activity feed sharing
- Use sections to integrate related contents
- Group videos into playlists
- Create a channel trailer
Pro Tip: Double check to see if everything is OK before clicking publish
It is paramount to consider your video analytics as you seek to optimize. For the purpose of SEO, you should care most about engagement: watch time, audience retention, subscribers quantity and velocity, likes and dislikes, comments, shares, playback location, raw views and device report. It may sound like a ton but once you get a clear system going you’ll be able to pull which elements are giving you the most helpful insights and which are less relevant at any given time.
Improve Your Visibility
Use Social Media To Announce Your Videos! Leverage the major social media sites to announce your video:
- Hacker news
- Time of day and time zone
- Boost your posts and/or use videos for paid advertisement
- Respond to comments
Pro Tip: Make sure to write a clever description of your video to give the viewers a hint about what they will see if they click play.
Video marketing is the pivot around which you should revolve to optimize your online business. Look for great video marketing tools, capitalize on every video site and other social media sites to make the best out of your digital marketing strategy and hot the ground running.