While there is plenty of disagreement among marketers as to the best method to improve your search rankings, there is one specific strategy that is sure to benefit your business. What’s the secret sauce? Believe it or not, leveraging your online videos is often key to increasing search rankings.

We all know that the search engines use social signals as a factor in their overall ranking algorithm, and as the role of social signals becomes increasingly important, so will the role of online video in your overall search and social strategy. 

This year, the number of consumers viewing videos online is predicted to reach 169.3 million in the US alone. With numbers that significant, what marketer would argue against the tremendous opportunity video can offer to enhance online presence search rankings?

Customers prefer two minutes to ten

Let’s face it; most people would rather spend two minutes watching an interesting video than spend ten minutes reading an article. Consumers are extremely busy, and they are constantly bombarded with messages that may or may not be relevant to them.

Video is the fastest way for your company to show your audience why they should do business with you. Not only is video a great way to share your story, it’s also a great way to build links back to your site, and if all of the stars align, maybe your video will even go viral. This is where the major search engine optimization benefit comes into play.

Videos are shared

In their simplest form, search engines bring searchers the most relevant data to their query, and inbound links help the search engines determine the data’s relevancy. When viewers find your video to be valuable content, they are likely to share it, thus facilitating the linking-fest.

Whether it is in the form of information, humor, controversy, entertainment, instruction, or inspiration, the video needs to be compelling enough to make the viewer want to share it. The more shares, the better for your overall online presence.  

Videos increase engagement

A recent comScore study showed websites that contain videos hold a viewer’s attention two+ minutes longer than sites without video content. Visitor time spent onsite is just one more factor that the search engines are looking for to determine relevancy. The fact that your website can hold your viewers’ attention is a big thumbs up. Another recent study, from aimClear, states that videos in universal search results have a 41% higher click-through rate than plain-text results.

It is no secret that SEO is essentially one giant puzzle with numerous moving pieces, but with universal search, videos offer businesses one more way to get heightened exposure in the search engines. According to a Forrester research study, having a good online video marketing strategy can actually increase your likelihood of achieving first page Google rankings by up to 53 times. For as popular as online videos have become, video marketing is still widely underused by businesses.

Grab it while you can

The “video” search is far less competitive than the “everything” search on Google, yet most marketers are ignoring this opportunity to jump ahead in the search results by implementing an online video strategy. There have been many instances where I have performed a web search using the “Everything” option. A particular business may not rank in the top ten positions on the first page, but when I perform the exact same search using the “videos” option that same business is number one.

This is a tremendous opportunity for businesses to get a one up on their competitors. Granted, the content contained within the video needs to offer value to the viewer. Google tends to show favoritism to informative videos versus strictly sales videos, so this is something that you may want to keep in mind as you develop your strategy. 

Americans spend a day a month on video

In February of 2012 comScore reported that 181 million U.S. Internet users watched nearly 40 billion (yes, BILLION) videos online in the month of January alone. This equated to the average viewer watching 22.6 hours of online video content in January. So what? So people are watching a ton of videos online!  

If you think about it, people are watching nearly an entire days worth of online video each month. This is huge. If people are spending nearly an entire day every month watching online videos, there is a tremendous opportunity for businesses and marketers to embrace the opportunity and invest the time into creating quality online content for their target audience to view.

Where is the best place to host your videos?

To be successful with your online video initiatives, and make the most of the SEO benefits, you will want to inundate the web with your videos. Having your videos on your website is just step one to improving your search rankings.

There are numerous outlets for you to take advantage of. YouTube is considered to be the third largest cornerstone of social media strategies for larger companies with 42% or respondents saying that YouTube was in the top three of their priorities for social media execution. 

In addition to being among the top three social media outlets, YouTube is regularly ranked among the top three most visited websites online in the US overall.  Although YouTube is the mac daddy of online video viewership, with more than four billion videos being viewed daily and over one hour of video being uploaded every second, there are still other outlets that you should distribute your video to as well. 

YouTube should be your first stop, but make sure to include other video and social sites such as Facebook, Vimeo, Metcafé, DailyMotion, Google+, LinkedIn, and other similar sites to heighten the exposure and linking potential for your video. Make sure to properly title and tag the videos, as well as enable features that make your video easy to share before posting to all of your outlets. 

When strategizing how to improve your search rankings, always think customer first, search engine second. If you are offering true value to your customers (whether in the form of videos, images, or just good content), you are more likely to be rewarded with favorable search engine rankings and enhanced revenue-earning opportunities. It really is a win-win situation.