You’ve nailed your website SEO to a tee. Your blogs are performing for your chosen keywords. But your videos, the content you’ve spent hours perfecting, don’t seem to be contributing much to your numbers.
You’re in need of some video SEO.
Increasing the visibility of your video content is as important as creating it. To achieve that, video SEO cannot be an afterthought. You have to start thinking about ‘searchability’ the moment the idea of creating a video pops into your head.
That way you ensure that your video content gives back by bringing in consistent traffic and leads.
This blog post guides you on how to go the extra mile and optimize your videos for search.
The Ultimate Guide to Organic Traffic for Small Business
First, some video SEO context…
In a recent survey, 71% of people picked YouTube as their favorite platform for watching videos.
However, a video on YouTube might have millions of views and still not rank on Google Search. It’s because, on YouTube, people watch videos based on recommendations and often through auto-play features.
Whereas, for video content to rank on Google, people need to be searching for it. Even if a video ranks number one in search, if no one’s looking for it, it will remain unwatched.
Whether your videos are hosted on YouTube or your website, the goal is to make them the primary result when the audience types the relevant questions or keywords in the search box.
For that, your videos need to have ‘search intent’ by design. Consider these points:
1. Find video topics with traffic potential
When you start jotting down ideas for potential video content, try to think of topics that people are searching for.
You might want to do some keyword research at this point.
First, go straight to the source. Use YouTube suggestions to get an idea about some of the popular search entries with your keyword.
Or, you can use tools like ahrefs, VidIQ and YT Cockpit to find valuable keywords for your videos.
You would also want to cover topics that are more beneficial in an audiovisual format i.e. people would rather watch a video on the subject than reading about it.
For instance, if someone wants to learn how to tie a tie, they will prefer a visual demonstration of the step-by-step process to decoding a written guide.
It might be tempting to create video content on popular topics, but you have a better chance of getting traffic if there isn’t much similar content available already.
Here are a couple of things to consider; what are the audience questions your competitors are not answering? Is there a subject they’ve covered only in passing that you can create in-depth content on?
It’s also crucial to dig for topics that have attained consistent organic traffic over a period of time. That way you ensure your video content stays relevant for long.
2. Create purpose driven content
Consider video SEO to be a tug-of-war between what you want to convey to your audience and what the search engine algorithms require to deliver it to the right audience.
But in the race to get in front of your audience, don’t forget the goal you want your videos to achieve.
Keep your videos educational. Providing consistent value to the audience means that they will keep coming back for more and share your content with other people.
Video placement also needs to be purposeful. If your aim is to promote your brand or build an audience it’s best to host it on YouTube.
However, if your aim is lead generation or enhancing your product catalog, embedding the video on your website works best.
3. Be mindful while embedding videos on your website
Video content can bring heavy traction to your website. However, your videos need to fit well with the overall content of the page.
Poorly placed or irrelevant video content can prove counterproductive and increase your bounce rate. This hurts your video SEO and your overall website ranking.
Take into account the purpose of your video. Does the video tell a story about your business? It may fit well with your About Us or home page. Testimonial videos may be useful for someone browsing through your portfolio page.
Since we placed our promo video on the MotionCue homepage, we’ve witnessed a 67% engagement rate. This has significantly contributed to increasing our session times and in turn, improved our SEO.
You can always repurpose videos created at different points of your marketing strategy to relevant places on your website.
When you embed a video on your website, you want to make it easier for search engines to locate, understand and rank it.
So, don’t embed more than one video on a web page. And since you want a specific page to gain traction because of your video or vice versa, don’t place the video in more than one place on your website.
Keeping in mind these little tips can do wonders for your video SEO.
Optimize videos for search in 5 steps
Once you’ve done your due diligence about the content of the video, here are some important steps you can take to boost your video SEO:
1. Add a compelling title
Your video click-through rate is significantly dependant on your video title. Your title not only needs to be attractive for your audience but also for search engines be it Google or YouTube.
So make sure to add the video keyword once in your video title. Keep the title at least five words long and use clear and concise sentences.
Before you publish your video, test whether the full video title appears in the search engine. Ensure that the keyword isn’t cut out from the display.
2. Choose an enticing thumbnail
First impressions matter with your audience, so you want to make a good one when your video gets indexed.
Thumbnails are the face of your video and determine whether people will click on the video or not.
You don’t want your video thumbnail to be an abstract image that doesn’t give away anything about the video.
For instance, if your video is about ‘how to change a tire’ the thumbnail should focus on the tire rather than an image of a car.
And you know what pushes a thumbnail over the top? If it features a human, preferably demonstrating what the video is about.
So, a thumbnail with a person changing the tire would be more enticing than an image of a tire itself.
Custom thumbnails are also very efficient when it comes to boosting click rates. According to Wistia, videos with custom human thumbnails have a 30% higher play rate. Check out these examples.
While uploading thumbnails be mindful of the aspect ratio. Pixelated or cut-out thumbnails are very unattractive and viewers are not likely to click on them.
You can also experiment with color contrasts and text placement on your custom thumbnails. Just keep the text concise, relevant, and easily readable.
3. Supplement your content with a video description
For websites, you can add a keyword-rich video description in the video schema markup. This description should only be 150 characters long. Incorporate as much information about the video as possible, along with the keywords within this limit.
For YouTube videos, write a comprehensive description of more than 200 words. A detailed explanation helps YouTube understand your video and pair it with similar content as suggested videos.
4. Add transcripts/closed captions
Transcripts enrich your audience’s video experience by making them more accessible.
If your video is embedded on a web page with little text, it’s good practice to add a transcript of the video.
The transcript shouldn’t be a word-by-word account of the video rather you can summarize and highlight the main points. Just make sure to add the keywords you want your video and webpage to rank for.
Needless to say, your video should mention the keyword at least 2-3 times.
As for YouTube, the platform is smart enough to understand the content of your video. It auto-generates video captions but they have a significant margin of error.
To boost the SEO of YouTube videos, you can upload a closed caption file. This makes your content readable for search engines. Additionally, you can add a verbatim transcript of your videos to the description section.
The jury is still out on whether adding keyword-optimized transcripts to the description helps with video SEO.
Still, it can rank your video for related terms. This helps get the video in front of more people as ‘suggested videos’, which is where most YouTube views come from.
5. Add timestamps for key moments
For videos hosted on YouTube, you can now also add timestamps. This helps search engines, and in turn, your audience, find answers to specific queries.
No wonder 54% of marketers picked YouTube as their favorite platform for sharing content.
With ever-shrinking attention spans, no one wants to go through an entire video. When you make information more accessible for your audience, you build authority. It makes people return to your content repeatedly.
When you specify timestamps or chapters within a video, you also add ‘labels’ which offer a short description of the content within that snippet.
Keep the labels shorter than 40 characters and align the video content with the labels.
These are just some of the steps you can take to improve your SEO for videos hosted on YouTube or your website.
However, search algorithms are constantly updated and search engines keep introducing new features to make both the content creators’ and consumers’ experience better.
So, keep reading up on relevant industry materials to stay on top of your video SEO.
Guest author: Osama Khabab is the founder and CEO of MotionCue. A modern-day video production agency based in New York that specializes in making animated and live-action videos that are geared to drive awareness and inspire action. Connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.