It is a common misconception that simply having a video will get your website to the top of Google results pages. There are over 200 billion videos on the web but so few of them are optimised correctly that if you follow these simple Video SEO tips you can give your videos the best chance to be found and therefore to work for your business. Lost already? You’re probably wondering what Video SEO is.
1. Target the right keywords
It is essential to make sure you are targeting the right words in your video as well as any associated content. There is no use using technical lingo or company slogans for products, services or functions if your target audience simply isn’t searching for them. By identifying the most colloquial (common) language you can optimise both the video and video page for maximum engagement and avoid a lot of people turning away from the page because it doesn’t seem as relevant or as accessible as it could be.
2. Make use of metadata – titles, tags and descriptions
We have seen so many videos out there with vague titles, even using internal codes and lingo, with short descriptions like “In this video x person talks about [key subject]”. Tags are the least used of all. You should be taking advantage of these opportunities to include the most relevant keywords.
For example, just placing a relevant keyword as the 1st word in the title of a video page (whether on your site or a video site) can increase the relevance of your page to search engines.
3. Write a transcript
This one seems so simple it is often missed by even the most seasoned online video professionals. By simply writing up your video voiceover or recreating the content in an article, Google can read this like any other article and pick up on relevant keywords. We will be posting some SEO Copywriting Tips up soon so watch this space for more help here. However, be careful to keep the video in the forefront of the page, preferably at the top of the article and just beneath the headline.
4. Host your videos securely on your website, not YouTube
With an audience of over 1 billion unique users visiting YouTube each month, and with YouTube being the 2nd most popular search engine despite not really being a search engine, it’s tempting to just put all your content on YouTube and hope for the best. Often however, this is a big mistake, for two reasons:
One, your commercial content is rarely suited for YouTube. Business/commercial videos are usually trying to sell the virtues of a product/service, which is fine, if your YouTube audience is in a buying mood. But on YouTube people are there for entertainment, or to watch video tutorials, or even to laugh at funny cats and baby videos – not to buy your products. 100s of hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, the vast majority of which never get more than a handful of hits! Instead, by placing your video content on your site, you are almost guaranteeing the audience watching is already interested in a purchase, that is, they have partial “buy-in” – you’ve done half the work. This audience is more valuable to you as a business.
Secondly (maybe more importantly), if you do attract the target audience via search, they are no use to you if they are watching your content within a “walled garden”, so to speak. It’s much more difficult to convert those customers on YouTube, Vimeo, Metacafe, Dailymotion, etc., save incorporating a web address into your video or including a sales pitch in the description. Even then, very few viewers are actually going to manually type or paste your web address into their browsers to visit your site.
By securely hosting your videos on your own domain and optimising those pages for keywords, you can attract an audience onto your site where you have much more control via the web design, user experience and branding to convert them into customers. Work with your web designer and marketing departments to orchestrate a multi-dimensional campaign that incorporates video as a major step in the larger conversion process. Relying on a video uploaded somewhere to “just work”, even if it’s fantastic content, will likely result in a bad return for your investment.
Hosting securely also allows you to select the best Video Player for you (some of which can be branded with your own look, feel and logo) and use advanced Video SEO techniques to aid your video’s inclusion in search.
5. Submit a Video Sitemap to Google
A Video Sitemap is a special file that greatly helps videos get included as Video Rich Snippets in search results, as pictured above. This improves visibility in the listings to better engage searchers. Despite the great impact this achieves, businesses new to video are not doing it.
Video Sitemaps were devised by Google as an extension to the Sitemap protocol. You may have heard of Sitemaps already, either as an SEO technique or as sections on a Website intended to help search engines crawl the pages on a site and see how they link together.
In much the same way, a Video Sitemap allows a webmaster to inform search engines about videos on a website that are available for crawling. It takes the form of an XML file that lists the locations (URLs or links) and other metadata for videos on a site, including keywords, categories, thumbnail, landing pages and other important data. For more info see: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/80472?hl=en
Sound too technical? Don’t worry, if Google’s explanation leaves you wobbly then you can use one of the several Video Sitemap generators available. A powerful desktop tool is A1 Sitemap Generator (30 day no limits trial) which has specific functionality for Video Sitemaps. It will automatically scan your Website for video content and output the file you need.
Even more easily, if you use WordPress, you can generate Video Sitemaps from the Yoast Video SEO plugin ($129 for a pro license). If you (or your web guy) fancies you can create a Video Sitemap from scratch in a program as simple as Notepad or any text editor. Once you look at the Google example posted earlier it is fairly self-explanatory to fill in the blanks for a techy but for more specific instructions here is a great article on constructing a Video Sitemap by Justin Hammack on Moz. It focuses on YouTube and Vimeo videos on a site but you or your techy should know what pages your videos are on and can just include those URLs instead.
Phil Nottingham at Distilled details pretty much everything you need to know to write a Video Sitemap here.
If you are securely hosting, you should definitely take the time to create video thumbnails for each video, upload these to your server and include links to them in the Sitemap. VLC Media Player has an easy to use screenshot button you can use, or just cropping a Print Screen in MS Paint, Photoshop, etc., could do the trick.
Still lost? Forget about it and let us create a video sitemap for you!
Finally, you or your web developer will need to upload your sitemap to your server (root folder will do, named video-sitemap.xml or anything you want) and submit it to Google Webmaster Tools
Using these tips you will certainly increase the likelihood of your videos appearing on Google, but there can be no guarantee they will appear high in the rankings – there are just too many other factors, such as social popularity (has the video been created to encourage sharing? Is it interesting, entertaining or useful?), as well as the established authority of your site (what is your existing traffic like? Are you using best practice SEO to ensure your Website is crawled by Google to begin with?) There may be some way to go yet, but we hope these tips will help give your videos the best chance of making it. Always remember that, no matter how great your content is, it’s a waste of time and money if no-one can find it!
This post is just a starting point, so look out for more Video SEO and Video Marketing tips and insights from us. Subscribe to our RSS feed and follow us on Twitter. If you feel you could use some help, feel free to get in touch.