Creating videos that delight potential customers is not a walk in the park. The last thing you want to do is put in all the work and fail because your target audience couldn’t find your videos.
Enter video SEO.
You can optimize your videos to take advantage of the organic traffic from search engines like Google. Proper video SEO allows you to unlock the massive potential of video in digital marketing.
This article will cover everything you need to know about video SEO, from why it’s essential to how to nail it.
Video Has Become the Cornerstone of Successful Digital Marketing
Content is at the center of all digital marketing efforts, and video is by far the most popular form of content on the internet. In 2021, video made up 81% of all internet traffic, up from 67% in 2016.
More importantly, video marketing pays. A 2023 Hubspot survey found that 92% of marketers enjoyed a good return on investment (ROI) from video. This ROI was in the form of increased traffic, leads, and sales.
And the importance of video in marketing will only rise, both in SEO and in paid search engine marketing.
With Conversational Search, Video Will Become Even More Important
Microsoft’s Chat-GPT-powered Bing and Google’s new AI-Powered search engine are disrupting search. One of the expected consequences is the reduction of organic traffic to most sites.
Searchers will be able to get accurate information without having to browse through results on a search engine.
Think of how we use Chat-GPT. You ask it what the types of marketing are, and you get a direct answer without clicking on any link. That is the future of search.
At some point, if users aren’t getting their direct, concise answers from Bing chat or the new Google Search, they’ll be watching a video, which is why video marketing is crucial.
The advent of conversational search also means you can’t just make videos about any topic. Ideally, you’ll want to create videos about topics Chat-GPT can’t competently address.
And once you make those videos, you’ll want them to be found, which is where video SEO comes in.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Optimizing Your Videos for Search
Step 1: Ensure Your Video Is on a Publicly-Accessible and Crawlable Web Page
For internet users to find your video through search, it has to be on a publicly-accessible web page. Here are some points to note:
- If your video is on a web page that can only be accessed when users log in, it won’t be accessible on search.
- If the web page is blocked from search engines, either through robots.txt or the “noindex” meta tag, Google can’t show it on search results.
Step 2: Make it Easy for Google to Find Your Video
If Google can’t easily find a video on a webpage, there is little chance of the video appearing in search results. Here are tips to make your video easy to find:
- Create a video sitemap and submit it to Google.
- Use an appropriate HTML tag for your video. Examples include <embed> and <video>.
Additionally, keep the following in mind:
- If users can’t interact with your video until they perform an action like swiping, clicking, or typing, Google may not be able to find your video.
- If your video is not prominently displayed on the page and is hidden or difficult to find, Google may be unable to index it.
Step 3: Ensure Your Video Can Be Indexed
An index is like a map that helps Google point searchers to the right content on the web.
For Google to index your video, it must have a thumbnail. You can assign thumbnails to your videos with any of the following options:
- Setting the “poster” attribute in the <video> HTML tag.
- Setting the “thumbnailUrl” property in structured data.
- Setting the <video:thumbnail_loc> in the video sitemap.
The thumbnail should:
- Be in one of the following formats: JPEG, PNG, WebP, SVG, GIF, BMP.
- Be larger than 60 * 30 pixels.
- Be located at a stable URL.
- Be in a location that Google Bot can crawl.
Additionally, it’s easier for Google to index your video if you’ve provided the appropriate structured data, (see also: schema markup for b2b) which includes:
- An accurate description of the video.
- An upload date.
- The duration of the video.
- The URL of the video.
Video SEO Mistakes to Avoid
Mistakes that can keep your video SEO efforts from having maximum impact include:
- Using a video host that doesn’t allow Google to fetch video content files. This means you’ll miss out on features like previews. Searchers won’t be able to preview your video on the search results page. Check with your video host to ascertain if this will be a problem. If it is, you can consider hosting videos on a platform like YouTube.
Don’t Only Get It Right, Ace It: Video SEO Pro Tips
Create a Dedicated Web Page for Your Video
Ensuring that your video is on a webpage and can easily be found by Google will get it in search results. But putting your video on a dedicated webpage will do even more for you:
- A dedicated page unlocks Key Moments, which allow users to see the “chapters” of your video and immediately jump to the part with the information they want. This increases the likelihood that searchers will engage with your video.
- A dedicated page unlocks the Live Badge, which allows you to show searchers that you’re streaming a video live.
- A dedicated page allows your videos to appear with video thumbnails in search results. If your video is on a page with other information, it won’t have a thumbnail when it appears in search results.
It’s okay to have a video on a dedicated web page and on a web page with other content. The dedicated web page:
- Should have only one video.
- Should have the video as the most prominent item on the page.
- Should have a descriptive title.
- Should have a description unique to that video.
Let Google Access Your Video Content Files
The more Google knows about your video, the more the video will appear in search results.
There are multiple ways to let Google know what your video is about. One way is to optimize the video’s caption and the text surrounding the video.
But, by far, the most effective way is to let Google access the video and learn about it by analyzing its audio, visual, and textual components. Doing this comes with benefits like:
- Video previews. Search engine users can see a preview of your videos, which is likely to entice them to click on the video. You can select the most enticing part of your video to be the preview.
- Automatic thumbnails. You won’t have to manually set thumbnails for each of your videos. Google will do it for you, saving you loads of time.
Additionally, if Google has analyzed the content of your video, it will rank for more relevant search terms, increasing its ROI.
Do the following to allow Google access to your video content files:
- Ensure the video file is located at a stable URL.
- Ensure the video hosting service you use is accessible to Google, has enough bandwidth to be crawled, and has available server load.
- Ensure the video content URL isn’t blocked with a “noindex” tag or via the “robots.txt” file.
- Use one of the following formats for your video: 3GP, 3G2, ASF, AVI, DivX, M2V, M3U, M3U8, M4V, MKV, MOV, MP4, MPEG, OGV, QVT, RAM, RM, VOB, WebM, WMV, XAP.
- Specify the “contentURL” value via structured data.
Recent Changes to Video SEO (2023)
Until April 2023, all indexed videos appeared with thumbnails in search results. But Google announced a change that will see only videos on dedicated pages appear with thumbnails.
If a video is not on a dedicated page, meaning the page has other content and the video is not the primary content, it won’t have a thumbnail when it appears in search results.
Videos don’t just automatically appear on search results. A lot needs to go right. The good thing is once you turn these video SEO practices into a system, they’ll be easy to implement.