Video SEO - 9 Strategies to Optimise Your Video for Search
Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’re not entirely new to the concept and principles of SEO. If you’re already optimising your written online content for SEO but you’ve not considered how well your video content stands up, you’re missing huge potential to increase your organic traffic. After all, videos aren’t just a form of content, they’re quickly becoming the most popular form of content, no matter your audience or industry.
When it comes to optimising your video content for SEO, all the same concepts apply: you want search bots to be able to easily crawl, understand and index your content. This content can then be served for relevant search queries, giving you greater exposure to the appropriate audience and increasing traffic on to your content and site (all without having to pay for a single click!).
The obvious question being “but can these bots actually watch the video?” And the answer is no. So we need to use other tools to provide as much information about the video and it’s content to give our videos the best chance in the race to the top of the search engine results page (SERP). In this article we’ll guide you through nine video-specific tools to help get your content discovered and achieving your marketing goals.
1. Metadata and Video Schema Markup
One of the most explicit ways to provide information directly to Google is adding metadata and structured data to your video.
Metadata is the more basic elements which you may recognise from standard web page SEO. Just as you would provide a meta title, description and tags for all of your web pages, make sure to do the same for your video. Search engines use this information to gain a better understanding about the content of your video, index it accurately and therefore be able to serve it for relevant searches.
Do your keyword research beforehand to match your language with the language used by your target audience. You can use services such as the Keyword Planner tool within Google Ads or Google and YouTube’s autocomplete in the search function to generate ideas (as well as lots of other paid tools out there).
Video schema has a similar, but more specific and powerful, function. By using structured data you can provide additional information to Google which allows the content to be further classified and benefit from a range of enhancements. For example, if your video provides a step-by-step guide to viewers, you can use the HowTo structured data, or the Recipe structured data if your video is…you guessed it, a recipe!
Implementing schema markup is a complex topic, one too in depth to fully dive into within this article, however you can find useful guidelines by following the links below:
2. Create a Video Sitemap
To quote Google directly, "A video sitemap is a sitemap with additional information about video hosted on your pages. Creating a video sitemap is an excellent way to help Google find and understand the video content on your site, especially content that was recently added or that we might not otherwise discover with our usual crawling mechanisms." View Google’s guidelines for video sitemaps.
Do note that this is no easy task and you may need to call on your website developer to assist with this one.
3. Optimise for Mobile
The year is 2020 and we are all obsessed with our mobile phones. It’s just a fact. Optimising your content for mobile SEO is therefore essential, not just something to consider and plan for. The good news is that optimising your video content for mobile viewing is becoming easier than it use to be. Most video hosting services automatically offer mobile optimisation and you can easily embed your videos on your website from these sites to ensure that you’re website is mobile friendly.
When you’re creating your video, think about where you’ll be sharing it. This will impact lots of elements, including the video dimensions. For example, there’s the argument that square and vertical videos are best for many social platforms which are mainly used on mobile as the video then gets more space on the screen. Speak with your production company about this as they’ll be able to advise the best way forward. With good planning you’ll also be able to re-purpose the same video in different dimensions!
4. Encourage Likes, Comments and SHARES
Make it clear and easy for people to like, comment and (the holy grail) share your video. These types of engagement all speak volumes to many elements of your video content being appealing, entertaining, compelling (basically, whatever your aim was). On many platforms (for example, Facebook) these engagements will signal that your content is relevant and their algorithms will push it out to a wider audience. Although these signals from social sites won’t have an impact on your SERP position, it will get your video, message and brand in front of more people.
If you’re hosting the video on your website, provide bold social sharing buttons and an embed code so that viewers can feature it on their own site (with a link back to you…did someone say “backlink”??) If you’ve dabbled with SEO before, you’ll know that backlinking (especially from reliable and reputable sites) has been an established factor in SERP performance since the beginning of SEO time. Video is such a valuable and well loved content format that you should definitely be leveraging them to secure more backlinks.
5. Share on Multiple Platforms
As we’ve previously mentioned, social sharing is a great way to increase exposure of your video. Videos can easily build up significant momentum on social platforms once viewers start liking, commenting and sharing the post. This can be a great way to organically reach a huge audience. With this, you’ll increase your chances of gaining those all important backlinks.
When you’re considering each platform, think about the purpose of that platform and whether it fits well with the purpose of your video. Also consider what the aims and objectives of your video are? Whether you’re looking to drive traffic to your site or simply increase brand awareness will have an impact on which platforms could be more supportive of these goals.
We haven’t specifically focused on YouTube within this article as the topic alone deserves it’s own dedicated guide, however it goes without saying that (as YouTube is the second most popular search engine AND it’s owned by Google) it has a huge role to play in video SEO. One important factor to be aware of when considering whether to host your video content on YouTube or not is that the Google SERP often features video rich snippets right at the top. Why is this important? For some time now, Google has significantly reduced the amount of non-YouTube hosted videos which make the cut. Even outside of YouTube, these snippets are likely to come from sites where video is the core offering (for example, Vimeo, WikiHow or TED). So, if you want your video to feature in the eye-catching video rich snippets section near the top of Google’s SERP, you need to be hosting your video on YouTube.
6. Create an Enticing Thumbnail
We’re visual creatures, that’s a huge factor behind why videos are so popular and consumed at such an incredible rate. So, while your video needs an enticing title, there’s a reason that the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is so well known. While the image itself won’t be viewed and assessed by Google, your video thumbnail will significantly effect how many clicks (views) your video gets.
Aim for colourful, eye-catching and relevant without looking click-baity. Use the strengths of your video when creating your thumbnail. For example, if the video features a person talking, show them in the thumbnail to create a human connection straight away. Keep it clear, bold and simple. Your potential viewers should be able to instantly understand what to expect from the video and want to discover more.
The thumbnail is likely the first thing your potential viewer will see and may be the difference between 10 views and 10,000 views. What we’re trying to say is that it’s worth spending time optimising your thumbnail to be as captivating as possible. There’s no point spending time and money creating an awesome video and then no time on the single image that will draw your audience in to watch.
7. Utilise Video Transcripts
If your video features a voice-over or talking head, providing a video transcription on the page means you benefit from all the same SEO advances as written text. The transcript sits in the background of your website in the code, allowing you to increase word density and feature keywords without having to overload the visible written content of the page. All of this helps those bots understand what the video, and page, is about.
8. …And Captions
There’s nothing worse than scrolling through your favourite social platform and having a video’s audio unexpectedly blare out of your phone’s speakers for everyone within a mile radius to hear. To prevent this, many social platforms autoplay in mute as standard. Therefore, if your video relies on audio to communicate your message, captions are the perfect solution to ensuring that all audiences, no matter where they are or how they’re viewing your video, get the full story.
9. Create Content for PEOPLE, Not Bots
You’ll have probably come across this during standard website SEO, however it’s one of the most important points to remember.
The reason those Google bots are so successful is that they pick up on the same factors that attract us humans to content. Therefore, if you create content that provides a positive user experience for us mere mortals, you’ll also be pleasing the bot Gods. So when you’re writing your video title or description, make sure it’s tailored around pleasing your target audience, not a robot. If your video description is just a list of keywords you want to target, you’re more likely to get penalised than rewarded.
So, there’s lots of tools at your disposal to enhance your video SEO and hopefully you’re now ready to start implementing some, if not all, of them. With that in mind, the parting message for all readers is to keep the bigger picture in focus. At the core of all of these SEO tips needs to be an awesome video that entertains, educates and inspires viewers. Without that, no amount of SEO magic will take your video to the heights you’re hoping for. The video content and SEO work together to achieve your goals, neither works without the other.
Here at Posh Gecko, our talented and versatile team are experienced in making videos with all of the above in mind. If you’ve got a video project on the horizon, we’d love to hear about it. Get in touch today.