Four simple steps could turn your video content into a powerful driver of organic search traffic, but video works differently to web pages in search engines and this technical detail is causing a lot of brands to miss out.  

However, reaching page one of Google is substantially easier with video than a web page.

These top tips will tell you exactly what you need to do to harness the power of video SEO.

On Thursday I had the great pleasure of representing Econsultancy talking about the geeky subject of Video SEO to an audience at Marketing Week Live. I was amazed at how popular the topic was!

More than 30 people have been in touch on Twitter asking for a copy of the slides so I thought I’d note down some of the headlines here for people to read.

Most brands are missing out by not bothering

While most businesses are spending worthwhile funds improving their position in search engine results pages through SEO, very few are doing the same for video despite the fact it’s a lot simpler.

Because few people are doing it, competition is lower and it’s reputedly 50 times easier to reach page one of Google with a video than it is with a web page (Forrester, 2011).

Google can’t see what’s in your videos

Search engines are not yet clever enough to see what’s actually going on in the video, so adjusting the edit to make it more search engine friendly won’t help!

What matters here is metadata – information that exists about the video, that search engines use to determine what to display on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Google has an index just for videos

When Google displays video results in SERPs, those results come from querying Google’s video index. This is a big index of all the videos on the web that Google knows about.

It automatically includes anything that’s public on YouTube. But it can also include videos that are hosted on your site. The thing you need in order to do this is a video sitemap, which is a relatively technical undertaking but worth the investment in time.

Online video platforms like Buto generate video sitemaps for you automatically. They’ve created a handy guide to video sitemaps on their blog, which will guide you through the steps you need to take even if you’re not a customer.

Video doesn’t always appear as part of search

Google has the option to display video results only, but this has recently moved off the default navigation menu for most people and into ‘More’.

So now your video SEO work is primarily focused on reaching the top two or three positions so your videos appear on page one as part of blended search.

Google only displays blended results when it thinks videos might be particularly relevant to the keyword or phrase someone’s searched for.

For example:

blended serp cats on skateboards

What about YouTube?

YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world. Unlike Google, which can’t tell much about the videos on your site, YouTube knows a lot about the videos it hosts and uses this richer information to determine the order of its own search engine results.

All of the following factors have an impact on positioning in YouTube search:

  • Metadata – video title, description and tags (just like Google video search).
  • Number of comments and shares.
  • Date added (new videos will rank highly).
  • View count (and channel view count, number of subscribers and playlist adds).
  • Rating and flagging.
  • Incoming links (exposure on other sites, other embeds, RSS links).

Most of these ranking considerations are down to actions that viewers take, not things you can control or manipulate. This places even greater importance on content and means your video’s rise to success in search is dependent on it taking off from the word go.

More can be found on video SEO in Econsultancy’s Online Video Best Practice Guide.  If you were at Marketing Week Live and want the slides just @reply me via @steffanaquarone.  

If you have any experiences to share please comment below!