SEO Tips for Your Web Videos

Creating web videos for use on your site or for sharing on video services like Youtube or Vimeo remains a great way to drive additional traffic to your website and sneak into the search engines for highly competitive search phrases. As Benjamin Wayne, a guest author for the popular Tech Crunch blog, points out:

“Not only do Google’s search and indexing algorithms continue to evolve in complexity, but Google has given over more and more of its search results real estate to “blended” search results, displaying videos and images towards the top of the first page, and pushing down—and sometimes off the page—traditional web results that would have otherwise competed for top rankings.”

Of course, in order to maximize these benefits, it’s important to apply the correct search engine optimization principles to every web video you create. Since you’ll need to follow a different set of guidelines when optimizing the video on your site versus video hosted on major video sharing sites, we’ll look at each option in more depth in order to understand how to get the biggest possible benefit from your web videos.

Video SEO for Your Site

Attempting to get web video hosted on your sites to rank in the blended search results is a great idea – if a visitor encounters your video in these SERPs, they’ll be sent directly to your site where they’re able to interact with even more of your content (versus simply moving on to the next Youtube video). It’s also a good way to secure additional traffic, as a ReelSEO study found that, “videos in universal search results have a 41% higher click through rate than their plain text counterparts.”

However, the biggest challenge you’ll face here is that most video content is invisible to the search engine spiders. On Youtube and other video sharing sites, your videos are surrounded by title tags, your description and keyword phrases, which help the search engines determine what your video is about and how it should be ranked. But when the video is hosted on your site – especially if it’s launched on pages that are devoid of any other text – it’s up to you to provide this information.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to create a video sitemap. According to Google’s Webmaster Support page:

“Video content includes web pages which embed video, URLs to players for video, or the URLs of raw video content hosted on your site. If Google cannot discover video content at the URLs you provide, those records will be ignored by Googlebot.”

By creating and submitting a video sitemap, you’ll be able to define the title, keywords and description that should be associated with your video in the Google index. For more instructions on how to do this – as well as for instructions on how to ensure that your site’s robots.txt file isn’t preventing the Googlebot from indexing your video sitemap – check out the video support page at the link above.

In addition to creating your video sitemap, Wayne recommends the following on-page video tweaks to help get your video page ranked in the natural SERPs:

  • Use consistent page and video titles. For example, if your video is titled “How to Change a Tire”, the page the video is hosted on should have the same text in its title tag.
  • Target long-tail keywords. As with any other type of page, you’re far more likely to see your videos ranked for long-tail keywords than you are when your video is on a more general subject. As you might expect, you’re much more likely to get ranked with a video titled, “2011 Chevy Trailblazer Review” than you will be with a video labeled, “Car Reviews.”

It’s also important to keep in mind that the size and age of your site don’t matter when it comes to getting your videos ranked in the SERPs. Because the search engine spiders are limited in terms of the types of information they can access related to the video files on your site, they’re just as likely to rank videos from newer sites as they are to reward dynamic content from older authority sites.

What this means – especially when you consider that the introduction of blended search gives you an even greater chance of competing with “old guard” sites in the first place – is that the creation of web video is a promotional technique that’s open to anyone. You don’t need to be a well-established power player in order to benefit from web video – you simply need to put out good content that’s correctly optimized in order to succeed with this method.

Video Optimization Off Your Site

But while it’s nice to try to rank content that’s hosted within your site for the branding benefit you’ll receive, submitting your videos to video sharing services has some advantages as well. If you submit your video to Youtube, for example, you’ll know for certain that your video will be indexed by Google and you’ll also receive the benefit of a high-quality Google backlink back to your site.

Of course, there’s plenty of competition here from related videos, so if you decide to host your content on these sites, there are a few things you’ll want to do in order to make your video as attractive as possible to the search engines. First, you’ll want to include your target keyword phrase(s) in as many places as possible. At a minimum, be sure it can be found in the following locations:

  • In the file name of your video
  • In the title of your video
  • In the description you upload for your video
  • In the list of keywords and keyword phrases you submit

Optimizing these elements will help ensure your video content receives consideration for inclusion in the blended search results on both Google and Bing, but don’t stop there. In addition to positioning your video to receive extra search traffic, it’s also a good idea to optimize your content to receive additional traffic from within the video sharing sites.

In order to capitalize on the millions of users who frequent sites like Youtube and Vimeo each day, study the titles and keywords that popular videos on these services are targeting. By publishing related content, you increase your chances of being promoted as a “Related Video” whenever these top videos are played. You can also increase your chances of getting noticed from within Youtube by creating video content as “responses” to popular videos.

With the number of free screen capture and video editing programs on the market today, there’s never been a better time to market your website using the power of video marketing. Whether you decide to host your video on your own site or take advantage of powerful video sharing sites, creating video content and optimizing it using the techniques described above can be a great way to build traffic to your site and expand the reach of your brand online.

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