Video SEO: An Intermediate Guide to Getting Your Videos Ranked
While digital marketers are concerning themselves with optimizing blog posts and website pages, the importance of video SEO is going largely underutilized.
“Business decision makers LOVE online video because it gives them the most amount of information in the shortest amount of time.” – Robert Weiss
With more than 5 billion videos viewed daily on YouTube and 300 hours of video content being uploaded to YouTube every minute, you’d think there was a video for just about everything.
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Just like your written content, video content can also be optimized for search engines. And, given the current growth explosion of video in the last couple of years, you’ll want to capitalize on the value of this piece of content marketing before the video market becomes overcrowded.
This guide to video SEO will highlight the most important steps you can take to get your videos ranked:
Finding Topics for Videos
The topics you choose for your videos matter. They should revolve around something that makes sense as a video but not as a blog post.
Let’s put this into perspective: which of the following items would be better as a blog post and which ones might be more successful as a video?
- Doing a backflip
- Changing a bicycle tire
- The 10 best dog food brands
- Recap of a case study
Most people probably wouldn’t want to read about how to do a backflip or change a bicycle tire. These topics would be better suited for video.
Here’s why this matters:
YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world (right behind Google). But YouTube isn’t the only place where people search for videos. Google will also display videos in search results pages if it feels the content is relative.
If you’re searching for the best organic dog food brands, chances are Google will return a list-style article at the top of the page — not a video. But if you’re searching for a resource that shows you how to install a faucet, chances are a video will be the number one result.
If you’re not sure if your topic will make a great video, try typing it into Google to see if a video pops up in the results. If so, there’s a good chance you might be able to rank your video for that keyword.
Types of Videos to Consider
If you’re still having trouble coming up with ideas for your video content, consider the following types of videos:
Each of the above video types carries its own benefits and appeal. Keep in mind that, whatever types of video formats you choose, they should resonate with your audience and your brand.
Understanding Video Ranking Signals
Just like Google or Bing, YouTube has its own unique ranking signals that it uses to gauge content quality (the good news is these factors aren’t nearly as in-depth or complex as Google’s).
If you want YouTube to rank your content, you need to play by their rules.
The first major consideration is your video’s title. Every title should contain a keyword that your audience is most likely to use when searching for your content. This part can be tricky, as you need to be both descriptive and concise.
Whatever keyword you use in your title, you will also want to use it in your video description (more on that in just a bit).
YouTube’s other ranking factors revolve around popularity (some might call these ‘vanity metrics’). Things like the number of video views, likes, shares, audience engagement, watch time and the overall popularity of your YouTube channel are taken into account.
In many ways, good video SEO is a numbers game. The more people see your content, the better you look to YouTube.
That’s not to say you should only focus on getting views and shares. Engagement is important, but the quality of your content is even more important. When you produce great content that people actually want to watch, engagement will usually follow as a result.
Video Keyword Research
Just like you would research keywords for your blog articles, you should also do a little digging for your video keywords. Knowing what people are actively searching for is much more effective than posting and praying based on your own preferences.
To begin your video keyword research, start with YouTube’s autocomplete feature. Similar to Google, you can start typing a word or phrase into YouTube’s search box and see a list of relevant search terms.
Another way to use this feature is by typing in your keyword plus a letter of the alphabet to see what pops up.
You should also see what types of videos your competitors are producing. Look at the topics they cover, the YouTube tags they use, and other data to help you structure and market your content.
Google AdWords also offers video keyword research. It’s free to use and can show you results specifically for video content.
There are several other online keyword research tools that are extremely helpful for YouTube content creation. Many of them are free, while some offer paid options for enhanced features:
How to Use Video Keywords
Once you find your ideal keywords, there are a few different ways you can use them:
In the Video’s YouTube Description
The description is one of the most important places for your content to stand out. Since search engines can’t listen to your audio reel, it’s important you create a solid text description that shows what your video is about.
Take advantage of the fact that there is not a word or character limit here. Make your description as long and in-depth as possible so that search engines have more to crawl. Keywords can be sprinkled throughout the video’s description. The more you write, the more opportunities you have to include long-tail keywords.
Writing a great description can seem like a hassle, but don’t think about it that way. Instead, view this as an opportunity to give your video an edge over competitors. Many companies make the mistake of writing a short description as an afterthought. Crafting an in-depth description can help set you apart from other videos and ultimately lead to better results.
On your YouTube channel, you can create Playlists that organize your video content by category. For example, if you own a painting business, you might have one category of videos about painting techniques, one with before and after transformations, and one dedicated to reviews of paint brands.
Take a look at how home improvement giant Lowe’s organizes their content:
Not only does this system of organization make it easier for your viewers, it also gives you extra SEO juice. Make sure you include keywords in the title of each playlist so search engines will know what your list is about.
It’s important you provide search engines as much context about your content as possible. The better you can do this, the better chance you have of achieving desirable rankings.
If you’re hosting your own video content, you can use rich snippets to further boost your video’s SEO.
If you’re not familiar with the term, you’ll probably recognize what rich snippets look like:
Rich snippets help your video stand out on the search results page. It helps your content look more authentic and authoritative, which can make it all the more enticing to click.
To use rich snippets, you’ll need to add a Schema.org code to your webpage and add an XML sitemap using your Google Webmaster Tools. You can grab instructions on how to do this here.
This doesn’t work for videos hosted on YouTube, which means you’ll need to find space on your own website for your content to leverage this feature.
Create a Video Transcript
Videos with captions are gaining popularity in the mobile revolution for two reasons.
First, having a transcript allows the viewer to keep their volume on mute while still getting the benefit of your content (e.g. someone is working at their desk and needs to watch a video without disturbing their co-workers).
But more importantly, a transcript gives Google direct insight into your video’s content. Search engines can crawl your transcript for keywords and relevant data to get a better understanding of your video.
In fact, a study from Discovery Digital Networks found that videos with captions received about 7.32% more views than non-captioned videos.
Overall, a video transcript helps improve the user experience by allowing them to view the video in the way they want (e.g. sound vs no sound). They’re easy to create, too. Find out more about video captions here.
Earn Social Confirmation
As mentioned earlier, social ranking factors are huge in video SEO on YouTube. You can give your social engagement a boost simply by asking for it.
Businesses commonly overlook the fact that they can ask their viewers to like or share their content or even subscribe to their channel.
Racking up views and other engagement metrics show social confirmation. People are more likely to like and share a video that others have deemed worthy.
Sharing Videos on Other Channels
Having your own YouTube channel is a great start to video marketing, but you’re not limited to this platform. Sharing your videos on other social media outlets can help you rack up views, brand impressions, and engagement.
Also, make sure you share your videos on your website. You can have a dedicated video section or simply add them to your blog. You can also send links to your videos in your email marketing.
Finally, use your helpful videos to answer questions on forums like Quora or Reddit. There’s a question for just about everything on Quora and a group for just about any topic on Reddit. You can write a short response and drop a link to your video that can help readers.
Just keep in mind that links alone are usually not enough, nor should you drop your link all over the place just because you can. On websites like these, more is not necessarily better. Whenever you add your link, make sure you’re truly providing value to the people most likely to click it.
Video SEO will become increasingly important in the coming years, especially since video content shows no signs of losing popularity. It’s estimated that video will be responsible for 80% of internet traffic by 2021 – just three short years away.
Prepare now – and enjoy the benefits for years to come.