If you’re familiar with digital marketing, you probably understand the importance of search engine optimization (SEO).
But there might be one critical element you’re unfamiliar with or neglecting — video marketing. Are your marketing videos optimized for SEO so you rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs)?
In this blog, we’ll cover the key aspects of video marketing, SEO, and how to optimize your videos for search engines.
How Video Plays Into Your SEO Strategy
Google and other major search engines look at several factors to determine where your page will appear in the SERPs.
For example, how long your target audience stays on a particular web page signals to Google how engaging and valuable your content is.
Including video on your site is one way to keep people on your web pages longer. That’s because videos are engaging and tend to hold people’s attention longer than text.
Still not convinced about the power of video content? Let’s dive into a few more reasons video can boost your SEO efforts.
Videos Add to the Quality of Your SEO Content
Google aims to show people content that answers their questions and provides valuable information. So, sites that do this successfully tend to have a higher search ranking.
Let’s say your site includes a webpage or blog post that shows how your product works or gives visitors directions on how to use it. You can add a video to that website that gives a more visual representation of your product.
Here’s a fantastic example from Webflow. Instead of writing out a boring list of features, this explainer video takes it to a whole new level with humor any web designer can appreciate.
Telling people about your product is one thing, but showing them proof that it works or walking them through the more complicated steps (in an easy-to-digest manner) will leave a more lasting impression. Webflow does this with its characteristic brand voice, making this video truly unforgettable.
Incorporating video content on your site pages helps you do that. Plus, you have a better chance of appearing as a featured snippet on Google, which can boost organic traffic to your site.
Why? Featured snippets tend to outperform regular search listings (the blue links), rounding up 42% of total clicks.
Not too shabby.
Videos Improve the User Experience
The user experience on your site is another factor that Google looks at when ranking websites. If your site isn’t scannable and easy to navigate, chances are, visitors won’t stick around long.
People don’t want to see large blocks of text. This can quickly send them away. When you use video on your site, you can improve the browsing experience because videos break up walls of text, creating a more visually pleasing result.
Take a page out of Wordable’s book for inspiration.
Notice how the homepage has very few words, directing the user’s attention to the video on the right-hand side. It explains how the tool works in under 60 seconds. Quick and easy.
Videos Help You Earn Backlinks
Google is more likely to rank a site in the SERPs if it sees that other sites are linking to it. Backlinks signal to search engines that your content is valuable. Think of it like a positive Yelp review for your site.
And videos can help you score more of those coveted backlinks. Why? Of internet users who watch videos online, 92% will share them. This number includes bloggers who may want to share your video with their audience, earning you backlinks. And the greater the number of quality backlinks your site gains, the higher its chances of ranking in the SERPs.
Video SEO: How to Optimize Your Videos to Boost SEO
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of video for your SEO game. Let’s take a closer look at some best practices to reap these rewards.
1. Think About How You’ll Display Your Videos
There are a couple of ways to share quality videos with your target audience. How you display your videos will determine how you approach video SEO. It’ll also depend on your goals.
For example, if you want to increase site traffic and get new leads, you might post your promotional videos directly in your blog posts or landing pages.
If more general thought leadership and brand awareness are your goals, you might use YouTube as your friendly ally.
Not as concerned about getting traffic directly to your website? You can upload your video to YouTube and try to attract an audience there. Remember that once your video is indexed, most of the traffic goes to YouTube rather than your own website.
But if you’re solely looking to host your videos on YouTube, then it’s crucial to optimize it for YouTube search.
How? By understanding the algorithm and YouTube’s ranking factors. YouTube often ranks videos based on video titles, descriptions, and the keywords used.
Here are some tips for boosting your SEO strategy on YouTube:
- Perform keyword research to find out what types of videos and topics your target audience searches for.
- Review YouTube search analytics if you already have an established viewer/subscriber base. Sign in to YouTube Studio. Navigate to Analytics –> Research. Then, click the “Your viewers’ searches” tab. When you type in a search term, you can see keyword variations/related keywords your viewers used in the last month.
- Rename your video file using a relevant keyword/search term. Include that keyword in your video title. Try to implement it as seamlessly and as naturally as possible.
- Tag your video with popular keywords.
- Consider adding subtitles and closed captioning to help YouTube better understand what your video is about.
- Try timestamps to make your videos more user-friendly. The extra effort helps viewers navigate to the most relevant parts of your content and get the information they need. Plus, they’re more likely to appear as featured snippets on SERPs.
If you don’t want to use YouTube, you can build your video into the structure of your website for a more seamless finish. You can do this with site plugins (if you’re using WordPress) or code.
For example, you can:
- Add a brand video to your “About Us” page
- Embed a product video to your product page
- Incorporate video testimonials to your homepage as social proof
Need more inspiration? Take a peek at how uSERP seamlessly adds video testimonials from happy clients on their results page to showcase their credibility in the link-building space.
When you upload a video file directly onto your site, it’s also wise to use Schema.org to create the right structured data for technical SEO purposes. This data includes meta details like the author, publish date, description, etc.
Including this data in your videos can help Google understand what your video is about so that it can determine how relevant it is to an internet user’s search query.
On the other hand, when you upload your video directly to YouTube, you don’t need to use structured data because Google will likely pull all the metadata without it.
You also may want to include a transcript with your on-site videos. Search engines can’t interpret content within a video, meaning they can’t watch and understand a video like people do.
And 92% of people watch videos without sound. Making it even more difficult to get your message across.
To accommodate these factors, be sure to include a text-based transcript somewhere on the page. This step helps search engines better index your content. It’ll also improve the user experience of your site, which is key for SEO.
It might also be a good idea to lazy-load your videos. That means that videos will only load when needed. For example, a user might click on a thumbnail or scroll to a section of the page where the video is located.
It’s a useful feature because high-quality videos can slow down a page. Slow loading times can frustrate visitors and increase your site’s bounce rate. And Google considers page speed a critical ranking factor.
To lazy-load your videos (without a plugin), use the HTML5 <video> element and set the preload attribute to none. With this added code, your video won’t load automatically. As a result, playing the video will be entirely up to the user.
The next thing to consider when uploading videos on your site is to include a video sitemap. A sitemap includes additional information about videos hosted on your pages, which includes discovery by search bots.
Best of Both Worlds
You may choose to upload your video to YouTube and then embed it into your website using a code.
This option makes your video available on your site, but it’ll also appear on the YouTube platform, which can get it in front of even more eyes. The result? Increase site traffic and boost brand awareness.
But if you take this approach, you’ll need to follow SEO best practices for both channels to get the maximum results.
The popular SEO tool Ahrefs embeds informational videos about technical SEO on its academy homepage.
Although the videos are hosted on YouTube, their visitors can view them directly on the site. That way, they can still get traffic from Google and YouTube when searchers use keywords related to SEO and link building.
2. Promote Your Videos on Various Channels
Creating video content is all about providing valuable quality content. But views also play a role. The more views your videos get, the more likely Google is to rank your content.
Whether you share your video content on social media or send it to subscribers via email campaigns, you may need to use more than one marketing channel to get in front of a larger audience.
Promoting your videos across channels helps boost traffic to your page, which improves its ranking on both YouTube and Google.
How do you do it? Try Breaking your video into bite-sized snippets suitable for platforms like Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Or, if you have a mailing list, embed a thumbnail of your video in your next newsletter. Make sure to use a catchy subject line to improve open rates.
3. Create an Eye-Catching Thumbnail
Your video thumbnail is the clickable icon that gives your audience a visual preview of what your video is about.
It’s often the first thing people will see before they click on your video. But the key is to get them to click and not scroll right past it.
An engaging thumbnail can increase your chances of intriguing your audience enough to watch your video. Again, the number of video views is a major ranking factor.
90% of top-performing videos on YouTube use a custom thumbnail. Use these tips to create a custom video thumbnail that stands out:
- Use lots of contrast to draw viewers’ eyes to your video.
- Add graphics to help people understand what your video is about (e.g., emojis, circles, arrows, etc.).
- Use eye-catching colors like yellow, green, orange, purple, pink, or blue.
- Use text to add context to your thumbnail. When people look at your thumbnail, they should understand your video topic without needing to read the title. Make sure the font is large enough so that it’s easy to read on all devices.
The below screenshot shows YouTube search results for the term “video SEO.”
Top-ranking videos feature captivating thumbnails that include attractive graphics, contrasting colors, and large text.
4. Consider the Length of Your Videos
While some viewers may enjoy hours of video content, others may have shorter attention spans. So, keep duration in mind during the filming and editing process.
If your video is too long, your viewers may skip through it or exit it altogether. People want to find the answers to their questions as quickly as possible. But at the same time, they might want to enjoy an engaging video that gives them the information they need.
It all comes down to finding the right balance. There’s no set rule on how long your video should be. That depends on your target audience and industry.
Just make it long enough to inform your audience but short enough to keep them engaged and not constantly wondering when it’ll end.
For example, company culture videos are meant to be informational. In this company culture video by HubSpot, 3 minutes is more than enough time to show its audience what it’s like to work there.
5. Maximize Engagement
Engagement is another important video ranking factor. If your videos are uploaded on YouTube, it never hurts to encourage your subscribers to hit the like button and leave a comment. It’s quick and free. Plus, it really helps boost your video in the YouTube algorithm.
When you gain subscribers, they’re more likely to comment and like your videos since they’ll show up in their recommended tab when they open the app.
You can also add calls to action (CTA) at the end of your videos to get viewers to engage. Ask them to leave a comment about what they think about the video or the topic. Interact with your viewers by replying to comments and joining discussions.
6. Build Links and Get Social Shares
Compelling videos that inform, entertain, and engage the intended audience tend to get the most shares. This helps generate many links, signaling to Google that these types of videos are worth showing to searchers.
As a result, highly engaging videos will be more visible in the SERPs or YouTube’s search results. If you want your video to get this type of reaction from your audience, make sure it evokes a strong enough emotional reaction that makes them want to share it.
Whether they tweet it or blog about it on their website, you’re gaining valuable “link equity” that helps you rank higher. You can also use social media scheduling tools to publish your videos beyond just YouTube, but repurpose them on Facebook, X, or LinkedIn, all under one roof.
This video by Dollar Shave Club was meant to generate brand awareness. But it ended up going “viral” and earning a huge number of backlinks from reputable sites like Mashable, Techcrunch, and Forbes.
The grooming brand garnered 28 million views for a video that was less than two minutes. It was so successful because it was funny, original, and kept its target audience in mind.
Get Started With Video Search Engine Optimization for Maximum Rankings
The key to well-optimized videos is knowing your audience and what they want to watch versus read.
Sure, targeting keywords, social sharing, and technical aspects are important. But if you don’t truly know your target audience, your videos will fall flat. And so will your video SEO efforts.
So, if you want to boost the visibility of your videos in organic searches, tap into the pain points of your target market and create high-quality content that speaks to their pressing needs.
Then sprinkle in some technical SEO magic, and you’re off to the races.
To your success!