Video content on the web is growing at an unprecedented rate. By 2019, Cisco predicts that consumer video will make up 80% of all consumer internet traffic. Confronted by this vast sea of online video, getting your content noticed may seem like a daunting task. Numbers can often be misleading, however, and as with so much online marketing, a solid SEO strategy can give you an edge over a lot of the competition, helping your videos turn up in search results to get you in front of the people that matter.
In this article I want to look at some of the essentials of video search engine optimisation, discuss good SEO practice, as well as the benefits of hosting your content on YouTube. We’ll start at the beginning by looking at how SEO actually works.
What is SEO?
Video search engine optimisation works in the same way as SEO does for any online content; that is a search engine algorithm determines the order in which to serve a user content based on a given search term. SEO seeks to strengthen the signals that search engines look for, from both the content itself and those consuming and sharing it.
With video SEO it’s important to remember two things; the first is that YouTube is a search engine just like Google and the second is that Google owns YouTube so if you can rank well on one it’s likely you’ll be ranking well on the other. Of course, YouTube isn’t the only video hosting site online but it’s the biggest by such a considerable degree that it makes sense to focus on it solely, to begin with.
Self-Hosted Video vs Embedded Content
The question of whether to host your videos on your site or on YouTube has largely become an irrelevant one. Self-hosting does give you control over your content, but it will reduce your available server bandwidth and runs the risk of hitting file size and storage space limits with your ISP. It’s also a clunky process with the need for file conversions and embedding cumbersome code.
YouTube, on the other hand, allows you to embed your video content within your own HTML code, where it can be played without your audience ever having to leave your site for the myriad of distractions from within YouTube. YouTube is also the largest video platform on the internet so if your video is going to get found, it’s more than likely going to get found on YouTube first.
Good SEO Practices
Let’s get down to some of the nitty gritty of good video SEO practice. These techniques, tips and strategies will help you get your videos ranking in both Google and YouTube.
– Creating Sharable Content
However good you are at taking advantage of this system, if your content is uninteresting, drab or boring it will ultimately fail to make a strong impression with people and consequently the search engines. With search algorithms now looking at how long people are viewing your content it’s harder to manipulate rankings just by getting a lot of clicks on your video. Keep people gripped to the end and not only will you boost your SEO signals but people will be far more likely to share it, meaning more exposure and more SEO traction.
As well as the popularity of a video, a search engine like Google or YouTube will also look at how relevant your content is to any given search term pumped into it. Just like website SEO then, you should think about keywords and what your intended audience will be typing into that search box when searching for content like yours. Using a tool like Google Trends will not only help you develop an effective keyword strategy but give you more of an idea of what kind of video content does well and what doesn’t.
– Tagging, Titles and Descriptions
Unlike written content, YouTube and Google have no way of actually understanding the nature of your videos so you need to give them as much guidance as possible through accurate and descriptive tagging, titles and decent length video descriptions (around 200 words). Your chosen keywords should be used throughout but try to avoid repetition. Getting your keyword in the filename of your uploaded video also helps.
Although this won’t technically affect your SEO, a good thumbnail image is key to click through rate in search engine results pages, which means more views.
– Social Media
With platforms like Twitter and Facebook now featuring video, the creation and distribution of videos on social media deserves an article all of itself. Suffice to say you need to be utilising a range of social media platforms to promote your videos to your existing followers. Whilst this won’t necessarily affect your visibility in search it will encourage click throughs and linking.
– Guest Blogging and Outreach
Good SEO comes down to two things; how well the content itself is optimised and who is sharing and linking to it. Once you have the former covered the only other thing to do is to start giving your video more exposure. One timeless strategy for achieving this is by creating guest articles for prominent blogs and sites that you can embed your videos in for linking back. Just remember not to cut corners and avoid those spammy blog networks.
– Good YouTube Channel Practice
Having a well-organised YouTube channel has benefits on many levels. As well as adding its own SEO value to your videos it also gives them a home and acts as a website within a website. Building a powerful subscriber base also means every time you upload a new video it will automatically get exposure and views, which will do wonders for your SEO. In other words, if you have a lot of video content you really need to have a well optimised YouTube channel and be investing time in building up your subscriber base.
Getting your video content up the search engine results pages basically, comes down to two things; its relevance to the search term in hand and how popular it appears to be. By keeping both these principles in mind and investing the time and energy into optimising and promoting your content, you should get the exposure you deserve.