How Video Can Help Your SEO Strategy

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Video can elevate your digital marketing presence. So far, so obvious. But beyond the fact that we’re visual beings, you’d be surprised just how many ways you can leverage video to enhance your marketing efforts.

Videos build an emotional connection. They get stuck in your audience’s head, leading to brand awareness. They deliver the messages you need to convert interested members of your target audience. And, last but certainly not least, they can be a catalyst to successful SEO.

Don’t take our word for it. Instead, consider these 5 ways in which video can enhance your SEO strategy and maximize your on- and off-site marketing opportunities.

1) Build Your SERP Presence

Google is nothing if not attentive. The world’s most popular search engine continues to thrive because it knows what its users want, and keeps delivering just that. So it’s no surprise that the search engine has taken note of video being among the most effective content types to reach and engage your audience.

The result: videos increasingly populate the first page of its results. A simple Google search on ‘how to fix your car’ requires you to scroll past three videos to get to any type of written content. That’s probably because almost three quarters of consumers prefer watching videos over reading content online. Google abides.

Screenshot of Google search results for ‘how to fix your car’

Google’s OneBox is replaced with video content for certain searches. In order to maximize your visibility on SERPs, see which of your target keywords are being displayed in video format and produce accordingly.

The implication? Producing video can significantly enhance your presence on search engine results pages, as long as you do it right.

Simply publishing a video is great for brand awareness (more on that later), but it probably won’t make it to the SERP. Almost all the videos on results pages come from YouTube, which means that building your SERP presence and managing your YouTube presence has to be closely integrated. Look at the keywords you want to rank for, determine which ones list videos on the SERP, and then move to YouTube to optimize your own entrant for that keyword.

We know that appearing in multiple parts of a SERP for a relevant search will maximize your visibility and increase both click-throughs and conversions. If you already have a blog post ranking on a specific search term, keep optimizing. Your best bet to maximize the SERP’s return is to also create video content for the same theme that finds its way to the same page. That way, your brand appears twice as both your video and your blog post, offering twice as many opportunities to catch your audience’s eye.

If you build and optimize a video effective enough to rank on a search like the above, your visibility and brand awareness will increase drastically. That video SERP optimization means content good enough to get plenty of engagement on a given keyword, which should appear in both its title and meta description

2) Leverage the Power of YouTube

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, processing more than 3 billion searches every single month. That’s more than Bing, Yahoo, and AOL combined.

If part of your effort is getting in front of your audience for relevant keywords, you shouldn’t just optimize your videos for Google. How they appear (and can be found) on YouTube itself has to be part of that consideration.

Another distinguishing factor of YouTube, of course, is sheer volume. Every second sees more than 35 hours of video uploaded. To stand out, you have to make sure your videos are not just great, but also optimized the right way.

Best Practices for YouTube SEO Videos

Optimizing your YouTube videos is not just crucial for internal search, but also in its connection to Google. The two are, after all, part of the same umbrella company. That note about Google SERPs above? The videos pulling in on top of the search results actually link to YouTube.

That get to that point, you have to keep some things in mind:

  • Treat your video title like a search title, with a keyword naturally incorporated into the wording.
  • Specifically note any relevant keywords as you upload the video.
  • Build a meta-description similar to that of a page, further describing the video in a way your audience would actually search for it.
  • Insert a video transcript, which helps you build your captions but also functions as page copy to search engines.

It also makes sense to draw from specific examples of videos you know to be successful. This Squarespace video, for example, had all the ingredients: a name people might recognize, optimized captions, and optimization around the ‘make a website’ keyword.

3) Maximize Your Social Media Opportunities

Experienced marketers know that SEO goes beyond Google. Take social media as an example. On Facebook or Twitter, users increasingly search for relevant content, making search optimization of each post more relevant. In addition, studies repeatedly show an indirect but clear link between social media performance and Google-focused SEO.

Organic social media marketing has only become more challenging in recent years. Thanks to algorithm updates and simple overcrowding, the average Facebook post now reaches less than 7% of your audience. The only type of post breaking through the clutter: video.

Screenshot of Facebook Watch’s livestream.

In addition to native video uploads, Facebook Watch also allows brands and users to livestream videos to their followers. Take advantage of the feature to boost real time engagement, then save the video to your channel to help with longer term SEO.

On average, native videos continue to perform better than any other type of content on the vast majority of social networks. Facebook itself has continued to emphasize just how much it intends to prioritize videos in its Newsfeed algorithm. Just make sure you’re uploading your video to Facebook directly, since sharing links out to Youtube has proven not to fare as well with Facebook’s algorithm.

How to Optimize Your Video for Social Media

To get results and impact your SEO on social media, not any video will do. A few very specific guidelines can help you accomplish that feat:

  • Grab attention quickly, as this video by Oreo showcases. The speed and content (a drawing that integrates the iconic cookie into a scene of hot air balloons) is difficult to look away from.
  • Choose a custom thumbnail, which grabs attention in media where the video doesn’t play automatically. This KFC video is a great example, thanks to a thumbnail that shows the audience exactly what the video will be about (a $5 fill-up meal).
  • Optimize the caption to fit the video and prompt a read/view from more people. The best captions are short, incorporate hashtags related to the topic, and elicit immediate interest from the audience.
  • Stay authentic. High-gloss videos have their place, but your audience has to believe that the video actually comes from you. Stick close to your brand personality to build credibility.
  • Anticipate the fact that 85% of Facebook users watch video without sound. Transcribe your video and upload custom captions, and build the content so it’s just as valuable without the sound.

4) Enhance the Value of Your Static Content

Traditionally, content marketing consists of static content like blog posts and web pages. Each of these content blocks can be significantly enhanced through video. Use it right, and the effect can be transformational.

You might be familiar with the Whiteboard Friday blog series by Moz. The blog post series highlights SEO-related topics and tips every week. But it’s not just words. The focal point is a video that explains the topic with the help of – yes – a whiteboard. If you’re anything like us, you probably will be watching instead of reading.

Whiteboard Friday video still.

Moz’s Whiteboard Friday series has been a favorite in the SEO world for years, even before video content entered its current Renaissance.

Video has that effect on most of your static web content. Your visitors are more likely to stay and navigate around a page with video. That’s because it allows them more flexibility in how they consume the information, depending on their preferences.

More engaged visitors, of course, equal higher SERP rankings. Google considers how your audience engages with your content after initially viewing it as part of its ranking factors. If video increases engagement, and engagement improves SEO, the through-line for your static content is clear.

5) Build Brand Awareness over Time

Finally, consider the indirect benefits of video. Simply plugging some moving images onto your website probably won’t immediately jump that website to #1 in all searches. Many of its effects, like the ones mentioned above, are more indirect. And yet, those indirect benefits can still be immense.

Consider a video you’ve watched recently that you just can’t get out of your head. It might not have led you to buy a product immediately. But it probably made an impact.

The same thing is true for your audience. We’re visual beings at our core, as 90% of the information transmitted to our brain is visual. The right video will get them to remember your name, and probably increase searches for your brand name in the future.

The key to remember here is awareness. You need to create videos that stick with your audience long after the run time is over. That means eliciting emotion, like P&G’s Like a Girl videos that resonate with countless internet users because of their real-life resonance. Another option is to simply be different; include an element of surprise that no one sees coming, like this PSA, and chances are you’ll stick in your audience’s mind for a while.

Once you can achieve a way to resonate with your audience, you generate recall in a way that leads to future searches, future conversions, and business growth.

How to Create Marketing Videos Designed for SEO

It doesn’t happen by accident. Any video designed to enhance your SEO strategy has to be thought-through and strategic. It begins long before you film the first shot.

You already know how to build successful, SEO-optimized web pages. Now, apply the same concept to your video. Start with a concept that you know your audience will find interesting, and direct searches towards. Continue with an optimized title and meta description that applies specifically to those searches. Only then should you actually shoot a video that fits the same keywords, title, and description.

The production aspect, of course, has to be complex. The concept is only as good as its execution; without high production value, you risk sending your audience to content that doesn’t actually hit their pain points. You lose their goodwill, shares, and ultimately an opportunity to convince and convert.

If you don’t have the video production resources you need in-house, consider working with a professional. It’s a natural way to ensure that, as the world of content moves towards this medium, your business is prepared and ahead of the curve.

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Brea Weinreb

Brea is a Marketing Specialist at 99designs. Originally from New York, she came to California to get a degree in Art Practice and English from UC Berkeley. She stayed in California for the burritos.

Disclaimer: The author's views are entirely their own, and don't necessarily reflect the opinions of BuzzStream.
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