There’s no getting around if…
If your business needs traffic, good SEO is the way to get more of it.
It’s true no matter what you’re trying to promote: blog posts, infographics, product pages, you name it.
But video is easily the most overlooked type of content that can benefit tremendously from good SEO. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. Video is inherently more shareable than text. It’s also more attention-grabbing and engaging.
And that means, with a little search engine optimization to help them rank better, your video content could be working ten times as hard to bring people to your website!
For today’s post, we compiled a list of video SEO strategies that you can use to improve your search rankings, so you can get more traffic, leads, and more sales as a result.
We divided our list in two. Part One is all about SEO strategies for self-hosted videos, and Part Two is useful if you want to rank highly on a specific video platform.
Sounds good? Then let’s dig in!
Part 1. How to use self-hosted videos for SEO
If your biggest goal is to get higher search ranking, you should host your videos on your own domain. This will make sure that any time someone shares your video content on social media, links to it from their website, or embeds it on their blog, your website benefits.
Now, to make sure you’re not wasting your time producing video content and hosting it on your domain, follow these tips:
1. Create high-quality videos (duh!)
Seems painfully obvious, we know. And yet you’d be surprised how many people seem to think that good SEO makes up for boring and unengaging content!
Reality check: user behavior is a major ranking signal! Google uses it to determine the quality of your website. If people keep bouncing from your website because of a mediocre video, it will hurt your SEO, no matter how targeted your keywords are, or how many backlinks you have!
To make sure you nail this step, always strive to create videos that are at least 5 minutes long (longer content ranks better), highly relevant to your target market, amazingly valuable, or very entertaining – or both. It’s not rocket science, but you’d be surprised how many marketers mess this up.
2. Make your videos easy to share
Another seemingly obvious but very important tip. Creating a video that’s entertaining or valuable (or both) isn’t enough. Even when someone can’t wait to share your video with everyone they know, you still want to make it easy for them.
And by “easy” we mean “a total no-brainer”!
Here’s how you can accomplish it:
- Make sure that viewers can easily post your video to video-friendly social networks: Facebook and Twitter.
- If you know for a fact that your target market uses less popular social bookmarking software (like Pocket or Buffer), provide them with an option to post there as well.
- Most importantly, let people embed your video on their own website or blog. It gives you a free link, and provides them with amazing content to share with their audience. Win-win!
3. Supplement video with text
One of the easiest ways to get the most SEO juice out of your video content is by posting a transcript right below it. That way, Google will have a lot more data to work with besides the keywords in your video title and description.
You can use a service like Rev to transcribe your video on the cheap and transform it into a nice supplementary blog post that will help your content rank much better on Google.
Note: this strategy works with many different types of content, not just video. For example, have you noticed how famous podcasters – James Altucher and Tim Ferriss come to mind, among others – would publish long, detailed blog posts along with audio episodes? It gives their content an extra SEO boost.
4. Make a keyword-rich title
Not to be overly dramatic or anything, but your video title is everything. You want to write the kind of title that lands smack-down in the “sweet spot” between SEO-friendly and viewer-friendly.
Your title should be clear, concise (aim for less than 10 words)… and still contain the keyword you’re trying to rank for. For example, if your target keyword is “organic fish oil”, a video title that promises “5 Ways to Use Organic Fish Oil for Weight Loss” will work like a charm.
Note: for a bit of extra oomph, try to put your keywords right at the beginning of your video title. For example, if you want to rank for “skateboarding tutorial”, make sure that your video is called “Skateboarding Tutorial: How to Perform an Aerial Flip” – as opposed to “How to Perform an Aerial Flip (Skateboarding Tutorial)”.
5. Promote your video
Always follow the 80/20 rule of content marketing: focus 20% of your efforts on creating content, and spend the other 80% promoting it.
How does promoting your video content help with SEO? Let us count the ways:
- The more traffic you get, the more user behavior data Google has to work with.
- Different ranking signals that measure quality and relevance only kick in when there are people interacting with your content.
- All by itself, that initial traffic boost will help your search rankings.
- The more people see your video, the more of them will share it and link to it, which will also improve your search rankings!
There are many ways to promote your video for that initial SEO boost, but the two we like the most are:
- Email your list about it. If you don’t have a list, share it with your contacts by personally reaching out to them. The key here is to get as many appreciative eyeballs as you can on your video, so posting it in random places won’t help – you need warm contacts.
- Next, borrow someone else’s audience! Send your video to influencers who would be interested in the topic. But make sure you read this post first, to make sure you reach out to them in the most effective way possible.
If you want even more tips on how to promote your video for more traffic and views, check out this post – it describes five more strategies you can use today.
Part 2. How to rank highly on a video platform
For this part, we’re going to give you some practical tips on how to make sure your video ranks well on your chosen platform. We recommend going with YouTube – just because it’s the biggest one in the world – but these strategies will work pretty much anywhere.
Note: you should assume that key fundamentals, like making a high-quality, engaging video, devising a keyword-rich title, and promoting your video, apply to Part Two as much as they do to Part One!
6. Target the metrics that matter most
Before you publish your video on a third-party website, you will want to do your homework and find out how that website ranks user-generated content. Put simply, you need to know which metrics it uses to determine if a video is:
- Relevant to its intended audience.
- Of high enough quality.
For example, on YouTube, the all-important metric is audience retention, i.e. what percentage of your video people are watching on average. If they watch someone’s 5-minute video halfway through, but they watch your 10-minute video only one-third of the way through, your content won’t rank as highly.
Of course, video retention isn’t the only important metric used by different video platforms. YouTube also keeps track of the number of comments your video gets, how many people subscribe to your channel after watching a video, how many shares it gets, etc.
If you want your video content to rank well on a platform of your choice, you need to know how those rankings are calculated. Just like regular SEO, only instead of Google you have YouTube – or Vimeo, or whichever social video site you’re using.
7. Attract real, high-quality views
This strategy is very similar to promoting the video on your own website. The more real views you have – in other words, the more highly engaged people watch your video and interact with it – the better it’s going to rank.
Here’s what you can do to make sure that your content gets as many of those critical early views as possible:
- Embed it on your website or blog with a compelling description.
- Link to your newest videos from your email signature.
- Post it on websites that allow embedded videos, like Quora and other Q&A websites… just don’t be spammy.
Note: “don’t be spammy” should really be your #1 guideline when promoting your videos, whether self-hosted or published on third-party platforms. Don’t forget: you want real views, not for a bunch of people to click through to your video, realize they aren’t interested, and immediately bounce. That kind of “promotion” would only hurt your SEO.
8. Link back to your content
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
“Whenever someone watches our YouTube video!”
If you are bothering to publish your videos on third-party platforms, we’re going to assume that your main goal is traffic. Which is totally understandable: who doesn’t want to capture even a tiny fraction of YouTube’s 30 million daily visitors?
To maximize your traffic, always link back to your website. The two best places to do so are in the video description and in your video annotations.
If you want your clickthrough rate to be as high as possible (of course you do), make sure that the content you link to is highly relevant to the topic of your video. And if you put your website link in the video description, make sure it shows up as early as possible.
9. Look for video-friendly keywords
There are two ways for viewers to find your video.
First, they will use the platform itself to search for it. That’s how millions of people find videos on YouTube every day.
But they will also use Google, or another search engine. So to make sure your video can be discovered by web search, include video-friendly keywords in both the title and the description – ideally within the first 25 words.
What are video-friendly keywords? Basically, those are the keywords that signal to Google, “Hey, this person is looking for video content!” – and make it display videos in search results.
For example, if you want to look up the definition of a Windsor knot, which is a type of necktie knot, you could just Google “windsor knot”… and little to no videos would show up in the results.
But if you change the search query ever so slightly to say “windsor knot tutorial”, lo and behold – Google will show you videos that match the keyword!
When you choose which video-friendly keywords to target, you will want to do two things:
- Search for them on Google, to make sure that videos show up in the results.
- Check that your target keyword gets at least 300 searches per month (you can use Google Keyword Planner to do that).
Note: since Google owns YouTube, it will display YouTube videos at the top of search results. If you want to get more views on a different video platform, don’t bother with this last strategy.
SEO is an incredibly powerful marketing tool. The majority of marketers use it for text-based content, but the truth is, it can benefit anything you create: podcasts, infographics, slide decks, and videos.
And the best part is, SEO is about so much more than just search rankings and the bragging rights that come with being on the first page of Google! As an entrepreneur, you need to be using SEO to get more traffic, leads, and sales – which is what you’re really after.
We hope that the 9 actionable strategies we shared with you in today’s post help you do just that. And remember: however hard you work to create your content, always work four times as hard to promote it… and above all, don’t be spammy. Enjoy!