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Video Optimization For SEO: What You Need to Know

Sydney Vallée

February 01, 2022

Video content keeps gaining popularity among users worldwide and, without any doubt, is becoming the most welcome format on the web. As to back up this statement with evidence, video is the primary source of information for 66% of people, and 87% of video marketers report that video gives them increased ROI. With this being said, not only is a video the handiest way to consume information, but also an influential marketing tool that can boost your business and sales.

With more and more people and businesses becoming aware of the magic videos can do, it’s getting harder to stand out from the crowd. Simply creating and publishing a video is no longer enough – you have to follow many sophisticated rules to get on top and win audiences. This is where video SEO can be of great help. Keep reading to learn everything about video SEO and how to optimize your content.

What Is Video SEO, And Why Does It Matter?

Imagine putting all your effort and resources into creating a high-quality video that goes unnoticed on the web and doesn't bring any traffic from new audiences. That would be really unfortunate, right? That’s the reason why you need a well-tailored video SEO strategy. 

Video SEO is all about optimizing your videos to get noticed by search engines and rank higher for the needed keywords and specific search queries. It includes creating quality videos that will drive traffic and video metadata relevant to your target audience. 

Having videos on their own already contributes to better SEO performance; however, it’s only half the battle. As search engine crawlers can’t see the actual video content, it’s your task to use metadata and tags to make the video visible for scraping bots. 

Moreover, considering how harsh some search engines are with low-quality, irrelevant content, it’s literally a matter of life and death for your videos. If they are not optimized, chances are, the search engine will punish it by pushing it down the results page or removing it completely. 

Reasons to optimize

Just as traditional SEO, video SEO serves to drive more traffic to your website and thus increase conversions. Let’s go over the main reasons why you should optimize your videos.

Enhanced brand reach and audience engagement 

Video hosting platforms and social media are home to billions of users worldwide. If you publish videos on platforms like this, you stand a chance to expand your reach and influence. With proper SEO, you’re sure to raise your brand awareness and engage more customers. 

Besides this, video is a great format to connect with your audience as it doesn’t require much effort to consume. At the same time, better than many other content types, video allows building strong emotional bonds with your users and educating them about the things that matter both for you and them. 

Building links and generating social media shares

If a video is well-optimized, it can generate hundreds or even thousands of high-quality links for your website. The main struggle here is breaking through the enormous number of videos online and winning the first positions. It requires combining a good video SEO marketing strategy together with video content that has something to offer to a viewer. This offer must be so emotion-evoking that the viewer wants to click the Share button. 

Boosting video SEO conversions 

If we take a broader perspective on SEO, it’s not only about increasing rankings on search engines but also about growing online revenue and sales for the client. Attracting visitors to a website is only the first step, while the next one is converting them into customers. Two main ways to hike conversions using videos are to embed a video on a landing page and use rich snippets.  

It’s no secret that users nowadays are so oversaturated with information that it’s getting harder to impress them and make them stay on the landing page for at least a couple of seconds more. In this respect, video content on a landing page improves the visitor's chances to consider purchasing your goods. 

What Distinguishes Video SEO From Traditional SEO?

All in all, the fundamental principles of traditional SEO and video SEO are pretty the same. In both cases, SEO specialists rely on keyword research to optimize their content in order to rank higher on search engines. 

The obvious difference lies in the type of content, which also implies that videos require specialized video hosting platforms most of the time. It means that marketers have to adjust their video SEO strategies to comply with the requirements of these platforms.  

There are three vital elements that influence your video ranking:

  1. Keywords. They can direct users within the video hosting platform of your choice and help your videos appear on the search engine results pages both in the Video tab and All tab. 
  2. The time users spend watching your videos. The more viewers watch your videos, the more the hosting platform will recommend them to other users. 
  3. Engagement. The visibility of your videos will drastically increase if people will like, comment, and share your content. That’s why it’s always important to use the final seconds of your video for the call-to-action. 

Where To Start Optimizing

As more companies are starting to grasp the importance of video SEO, the competition for search engine ranking is only getting more fierce. Whatever keyword you have in mind, it’s highly likely that you’re not the only one trying to rank for it. But it’s not all doom and gloom as long as you apply an integrated approach. 

Find The Right Keywords And Use Them In The Right Places

The first thing to do is to conduct keyword research and find keywords relevant to your niche and content. You should opt for the keywords that accumulate an optimal amount of searches per month, meaning that they are in demand yet leave some space for you to jump in. 

To perform in-depth keyword research, you need specialized video SEO tools. Also, you can complement it with a very simple trick – try using the auto-complete search function on the video hosting platform to find what people are searching for. 

After the research is done and relevant keywords are found, you have to make use of them in the right places. 

  1. First and foremost, incorporate the chosen keywords in the video script. Even though neither search engines nor video hosting platforms can directly watch your content, they use automatic captioning to read it. Saying the right keywords in your video can significantly increase your video SEO. 
  2. It may be an unexpected place to insert keywords, but your video file name is just another opportunity to push your target keyword. Thus, instead of uploading a video file entitled “yougurt_ad_002FINAL.mov”, give it a proper name with the keyword included. 
  3. The title of your video. Another perfect spot not only to insert keywords but also to encourage the audience to click. The title shouldn’t spoil what’s inside the video or answer the main question; otherwise, the user won’t see any further point in watching your content. Don’t stuff the title with keywords either. Try to keep it simple yet interest-igniting. 
  4. The description of your video should summarize the video and include your keyword in a natural way. Also, add a couple of extra hashtags to make your video more visible on the platform.
  5. When uploading your video to the hosting platform, in the majority of cases, you’ll see the Tags sections. Here, you have to add both general and specific tags related to your content. This way, it will be easier for the search engines to find it. 

Use Subtitles For SEO And The Convenience Of Your Viewers

Probably almost everyone has been in an awkward situation when the video sound bursts out loud in the most inappropriate settings. To avoid it, many people watch videos with the sound off, and most social media platforms even have it by default. 

What’s worse, some people don’t even start watching a video if they see it lacks subtitles. Wouldn’t it be a pity to miss out on the new viewers and increased engagement just because of this? 

Taking this into account, you should consider including subtitles in your video to ensure that your audience can watch your content whenever and wherever they want to. Not only will your viewers thank you, but also search engine scraping bots easily find your content, which significantly contributes to the overall SEO.

Even though many video hosting platforms have an option to automatically generate captions, it’s highly recommended to embed your own script when you’re uploading the video. It adds extra SEO points to your video content. 

Use Cards And End Screens

Cards are pop-up notifications meant to make your video more engaging and promote other content on your channel. The best thing about them is that viewers can either click it if interested or dismiss it, and it will disappear. For example, there are four types of cards on YouTube

  • Channel cards. You can use this card to send your viewers to another channel that you’d like to recommend. 
  • Video cards. This card links to other related videos on YouTube that you pre-select for your viewers. 
  • Playlist cards. It’s similar to video cards, but here you can link the card to an entire playlist. 
  • Link cards. Using this card, you can direct your viewers to an external website, such as an e-commerce or a fundraising page. However, you should be careful with the websites you’re linking to as they should comply with the Terms of Service and other guidelines of the video hosting platform. 

End screens contain similar information as cards, but as the name suggests, they show up at the last 5-20 seconds of a video. Setting up an end screen may be quite a headache as there are many detailed instructions on how to do it, depending on your case. Nevertheless, it’s totally worth it when every tiny thing can make a big difference.

Make An engaging Thumbnail

Just as a book is judged by its cover, your video is judged by its thumbnail, at least at first glance. A video thumbnail is a picture made to give potential viewers a rough visual idea of what your video is about. That’s why it’s important to put some effort into creating an appealing and relevant thumbnail. After all, whether the viewers will click on the video or not depends on how good your thumbnail is. 

There are certain rules to follow while creating a truly engaging thumbnail.

  • Keep it relevant to what you’re trying to rank for. Your thumbnail may look extremely click-bait, but you'll have high bounce rates and decreasing rankings if it doesn’t align with your content and target keywords. 
  • Make it consistent and engaging. Try to apply the same style to all your videos as it looks more aesthetically pleasing. Don’t overload the image with unnecessary elements and layouts, making it more confusing and messy. At the same time, don’t forget that you’re competing with myriads of other similar content makers meaning that you should use colors and elements that will grab people’s attention. 
  • Make it more human-like by adding an actual human. A study shows that 72% of the most popular YouTube thumbnails feature a human face. 

Create Meaningful Content

Although SEO is a powerful tool, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Even a good SEO strategy is totally useless if you provide low-quality content that doesn’t serve any purpose to your audience. You use SEO to attract people to your channel or website, but it's the quality of your content that makes them stay, watch, like, and share with others. 

Whether you create educational or promotional content, before getting started, you should answer the following question, “Will this video help my audience solve a particular problem they have?” 

Go over this checklist to draft your own video creation strategy:

  • Clear objectives
    Formulate the objectives that you have in mind for this particular video. What is the result that you expect to achieve after publishing this video? Do you want to raise brand awareness, educate people about your new product, or something else? What are the steps you should take to achieve this goal? Ask yourself the right questions and give answers as clearly as possible. 
  • Emotion-provoking content
    Remember that a good piece of content should always provoke emotions in a viewer. Whether it’s an outrage, curiosity, or shock, the emotion has to be strong enough to make people react to your content and spread it. Luckily, video is the best content type to spark emotions due to its rich visuality and versatility.
  • Viewer persona

Portray your ideal viewer persona. What are the demographics of this person, including age, gender, occupations, and other important parameters? Having a vivid image of the person you’re talking to will help to personalize your content instead of trying to reach as many different audiences as you can, eventually ending up with nothing at all. 

  • What does your audience need?
    Once you have a clear target persona, you have to figure out what this audience is looking for. What problems do they have that you can help resolve? What kind of content, language, and style do they prefer? Answering these questions will help tailor your video content strategy and make it more precise. 
  • Tools
    What tools do you need to create the kind of video your target audience is searching for? Professional equipment is not always something you really need to create an engaging and informative video. Sometimes a mobile phone is perfectly enough. But it’s your task to decide what kind of equipment you need for your video. 
  • End result
    What actions do you want your audience to take after watching your video? Do you want them to share your content, buy your product, or visit your website? Depending on your goals, you have to incorporate call-to-action in your video in unobtrusive yet encouraging ways. 

Conclusion

Video search engine optimization is as powerful as challenging it is. To keep your content afloat and push it higher on SERPs, you should follow specific guidelines. Start with aiming at the right keywords and incorporating them into your videos at all stages of production and publishing. Also, don’t neglect to create an engaging thumbnail and subtitles for your video and take some extra time researching trending topics. After all, every detail may have a big impact on your video SEO performance. 

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