As video continues to eat up a higher share of all content being consumed on the internet, it also becomes increasingly important in SEO. That means going forward, your SEO strategy must include video. Full stop.
So you may be wondering: How do search engines crawl my video? What are some of the SEO benefits of adding more video to my website? What is the future of SEO and video? What year is it? Who is the president?
Okay, if you’re wondering the last two, you’ve probably incurred some pretty serious head trauma and should seek immediate medical attention. But for some insights into the first three, read on.
How Do Search Engines Crawl My Video?
Google is capable of extracting preview thumbnails based solely on the audio and visual content contained within your video (Yea, man, I dunno. They’re good.) But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t give them a hand to make it easier to crawl and index your videos. That means following some best practices for uploading video to your website
Search engines will obviously crawl the standard metadata that is typically provided by anyone creating and uploading video: the title of the video and the general description of the video.
If you’re accustomed to uploading your videos to YouTube, this basic information is more or less required. If you’re updating video on your website, you should follow the same protocol. However, not everyone uploads their videos with SEO in mind; conduct some basic keyword research and create a keyword-optimized title for each video. Relevancy is key in SEO, so don’t shoehorn in a ‘close but not quite right’ keyword in the hopes of attracting a few more views; rather, pick a keyword or phrase that best reflects what your video is about, search volume metrics be damned.
Use your chosen keyword in your video page’s meta description, too. Ideally, you can work the keyword into the copy – organically – at least once.
Following standard SEO best practices, your title tag needs to be about 60 – 70 characters, and your meta description needs to be around 150 – 160 characters. Finally, try to include a longer keyword-optimized description on the page itself, if possible. This copy should be informative, well-written, and relevant – never stuffed with keywords.
Additional Microdata (Schema for Video)
If you’re not familiar with Schema.org, it is, according to the nerds behind it, a “joint effort… to improve the web by creating a structured data markup schema supported by major search engines.”
By embedding some structured microdata in the HTML of your onsite video, you can make it easy for search engines to understand various properties of your video – and therefore make them more visible.
A few of the essential properties that you’ll want to mark up are:
- • Title
- • Description
- • Thumbnail URL
- • Video Length
- • Upload Date
If you have a developer on hand who can update your video’s schema for you, great. If not, you’ll need to do a little self-education to implement schema for video correctly – or, say you’re running on WordPress, a Schema plugin that guides you through the process.
A video sitemap is an extension of your website’s general sitemap. You can create a video sitemap for the video or videos that are relevant to the host page and submit this to Google via the Search Console. The video sitemap includes a lot of the same information used in the video schema markup, and Google recommends using both for your videos to make it easier for their spiders to find, crawl, index, and display your video in SERPs.
Additional SEO Benefits of Video
You probably won’t be able to resist watching the video below. Something about that mustache, right? Well, if you do, you’re improving our SEO. That’s because video provides additional SEO value to your website by influencing key factors used by algorithms to determine how your site appears in results.
Lower Your Bounce Rate
Visitors to your site can spend up to twice as much time on the page, which in turn, lowers your bounce rate. Remember, relevancy is the name of the SEO game, so the better your video answers the search engine query that brought those viewers there in the first place, the more they are likely to be engaged and stick around.
According to Brightcove, using video in your marketing content strategy can lead to a 157 percent increase in organic traffic and higher click-through-rates.
Improve Your Backlink Network
When your site is hosting quality, relevant video, you increase the likelihood of drawing quality, authoritative backlinks to your site. And the more legitimate follow links you get, the cooler and more popular you become in your high school. On the flip side, if your video isn’t saying anything interesting, new, or addressing specific goals and audiences, you’re probably not going to attract those links… and you’ll be stuck going to prom with a content mill in Malaysia.
Watch Your Page Load Speed
As you continue to expand your use of video content, it is important to be mindful of page load speed. Page load speed is one of the most critical factors in SEO, and if your video files are too large, they could negatively impact your site’s performance. The solution? Be sure you’re optimizing your on-site videos for load time – and you better believe that includes mobile.
The Future of Video and SEO
Where is all of this headed?
Well, we spoke to Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, who provided all of the nitty-gritty details in a lengthy conversation we had over some questionable supermarket sushi. He was oversharing and, honestly, I got really tired and bored and kinda fell asleep for a bit.
Okay, obviously that isn’t true. Not even close. The truth is, no one knows for sure. But we can make some educated guesses. More pointedly, we can speculate that in the not-too-distant future, Google will get better at crawling your video whether it is marked up or not (…just imagine where your company will be when they roll out that update).
And presumably, the relevancy and quality of your video content will be significant factors in how those videos subsequently rank (in other words, video-centric Panda updates that effectively encourage content creators to make higher quality, more relevant video content for their viewers).
Don’t make videos just to make videos; make videos with purpose.
So, Where to Start with Video and SEO?
A good place to start would be to refresh or repurpose your existing video content. Like a deeply troubled teenager, this will kill a few birds with one stone.
First, you’ll take stock of your existing video library to understand what you already have, what you still need, and what no longer aligns with your company’s goals.
Next, you’ll be able to select the most relevant video from that library and focus your resources on updating those (the aforementioned optimized titles, descriptions, schema, sitemap, etc.). You can also take this opportunity to add some high quality, relevant copy underneath those videos, if applicable. By the way, don’t just publish the transcript; rewrite the ideas being presented in the video into something more structured. If someone coming to your page is seeking written information, they don’t want to wade through a transcript of people speaking – they want to read organized, coherent paragraphs.
Finally, this auditing process will expose the gaps in your video content and give you a clear sense of where to go next – only now, you’ll move into the production phase with SEO in mind. SEO doesn’t need to dictate your approach entirely but it should, at the very least, be part of the conversation.
Generally speaking, if you’re looking ahead at how search will evolve alongside the exponential growth of video, you should probably put a little more thought into your video content creation to make sure your video continues to carry maximum SEO value for your website. In other words, you need a video strategy. Just sayin’.