It’s no secret that incorporating video into your online marketing strategy is becoming a normal and necessary evil. On the one hand video is great because it typically brings more engagement and interest to your website than traditional articles—it’s easier to understand for readers, it’s more appealing to watch a video, and it gives you more opportunity to get creative and unique with the material you choose to show. On the other hand, video SEO is an entirely new animal and one more thing you have to conquer.
Fortunately, video SEO doesnt have to be a difficult new task. You’ll find that it isn’t too different from the optimizing you were doing with your content and your website in the past, and once you get it down pat the benefits are more than worth it.
Top Ways to Improve Your Video SEO
Your first step in a video strategy is of course creating the video, so I recommend checking out this Forbes article about how to film a video as well as what types of subjects typically work well. After you have your video ready to go, you have to decide if you’re going to host that video on YouTube or on your actual website.
The vast majority of companies host their video on YouTube because it’s easy, free, the second largest search engine, and you can still post your YouTube hosted videos on your website. In short, it’s just easier to rank on YouTube; although there are several reasons, discussed here, why some companies prefer to host a video on their own site.
If you are going the YouTube route, there are several different criteria the YouTube algorithm looks at when it comes time to rank videos:
- How often the video has been viewed.
- How long someone views the video.
- How often the video appears in a person’s playlist.
- The number of positive rankings/comments.
- The number of subscribers the creator (you) has.
- How often the video is added to a playlist.
- How often the video was embedded on the web.
In order to create a video that has a good number of these factors, your video must be a quality video that is relevant to your audience, but also optimized for the YouTube bots. Below are a few video optimization tips:
This is an excellent place to start when it comes to optimization. Just as with a traditional piece of content, you want to be able to tell the bots what your content is about, and keywords are a huge part of that. You want to make sure your keywords are natural, but it doesn’t hurt to make it a point to include keywords in your title, description, and tags (discussed below).
Of course, part of using keywords for optimization is doing a little bit of keyword research, which you can make happen here. As you might have assumed, you have a better chance of ranking well on a YouTube search; however, it is possible to rank on both YouTube and Google GOOGL +0.12%. Certain keywords lend themselves to ranking well on Google, such as the popular example “cute cats.” Google knows that when people type this in they want to see videos as opposed to an article about why cats are cute.
Long story short, when you are choosing a keyword that might work well for YouTube, do a quick check to see if Google is putting video results for that keyword on the first page. If so, you’ve picked a good one.
Have a Catchy TitleOf
Of course part of optimizing your video is having a title that will really stand out, but what many people forget is that your title should also include your keyword to cater to the Google bots. The way in which you word your title will also affect your SEO. For example, if you’re trying to rank for the phrase “learn to snowboard,” you would want your title to say something like “Learn to Snowboard in 10 Steps” and not “10 Steps to Learn to Snowboard.” The beginning is always the best place for a keyword, and it has to appear natural.
Create a Thorough Description
It’s important to remember that the YouTube bots cannot actually watch your video, so the content you have on the page is how YouTube determines the contents of your video. Your description is the spot where you can add the most text, so you need to make it count. This is where you should be utilizing your keywords—this will help you rank for those keywords as well as long-tail keywords.
David McElveen, Managing Partner of HigherVisibility, explained that he has found success when including a transcript of the video in the description. He says, “putting your transcript in the description is an excellent way to include relevant, keyword-rich content that will help both your viewers and your optimization efforts, particularly if you are discussing a confusing or involved topic. People typically want to be able to refer back to different sections of the video, and a transcription gives them another outlet to do that.” I’ve had great success with this as well, it will also help drive more organic visitors to your site/video as well.
When it comes to video, tags actually do matter. You want to use important key phrases and keywords as simply another way to let the bots know how your video should be categorized. Think about what your target audience might search for and then use those terms as additional tags for your video.
Sitemaps and Schema.org
Creating a sitemap is the easiest way to let the bots know you have a video on your website; thus helping them index that video. This is the best way to help show people your video on your website as opposed to YouTube (this is the preferable option, it’s just more difficult). Visit this link from Google to learn how to create a video sitemap and more about why it matters.
Finally, schema.org is also a great way to ensure you have an optimized video. This HTML markup offers additional information to the bots (particularly describing your video), and it will no affect any video sitemaps that you’re already using.
A Few Extra Tips
Other factors to help spread the word include link building, syndication, and constant social sharing. It works like a domino affect in the same way that is does for traditional content: The more popular your video becomes, the more natural links and embeds will start to pop up across the web, the more natural SEO will come your way.
There are also extra things you can do to help make sure your video stands out from the rest including annotations, video rich snippets, and custom thumbnail images.
Do you have any SEO tips or stories to share from you experiences? Anything that didn’t work for you? Let us know in the comment section below?