Top 5 ways to optimise video for search

Lots of brands are producing video content, but few are actually getting their video seen. Here are our five top tips for SEO-friendly video.

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Video can be a fantastic element of any digital marketing campaign. It is great for raising brand awareness, enhancing the customer experience and increasing conversion rates, as well as generating quality, natural links.

However, very few content producers distribute their videos effectively. Video has grown significantly in recent years, meaning that a successful video strategy is about so much more than uploading a clip and waiting for those links.

To be successful, you need to supplement this content with an appropriate seeding strategy, a supportive advertising campaign and traditional best practice techniques for the distribution of your content.

But just how do you make sure that you take full advantage of your video content? Well, here are our top five tips for making sure your content, gets seen:

1: Optimise the content

It seems too basic to mention, but your best friend when it comes to searchable video content is still the title and description.

Similar to the humble <h1> tag on a website, the title in your video content is the search field’s first port of call in content discovery, and in a close second to that, it’s the longform description below the <h1>. Make sure you treat these as literary gold, and do your utmost to maximise their quality.

Also pay close attention to your video thumbnail. This is the visual advert to your video. If you want to gain attention over any other aggregate of search results, you need to make that screenshot sing!

Treat this as though it was the front cover of your book. This is the first impression the viewer gets to your content and it will define the “load vs play” statistics of your content.

2: Choose the right video host

Your choice of video host will depend heavily on what you intend to do with the campaign. If you are simply trying to reach the broadest possible audience and get your content discovered, use YouTube. If, however, you’re looking to convert a highly targeting audience into sales, consider a paid host.

There is no right answer when it comes to selecting a video host for your content, and different providers all have their own pros and cons. However, unlike most life choices, you can “have your cake and eat it”, and hosting your content in more than one location can be the capture all scenario you are looking for. A balanced, and staggered, release on various hosting services will increase your engagement figures over the length of your campaign.

YouTube, as we all know, is the world’s largest video platform and whilst this is great for getting your brand in front of millions of people, it is not particularly good for generating links, traffic and conversions. Consider a more controllable HTML5 video player and third party hosting service such as Wistia.

HTML5 players are naturally crawlable by Google, which means that Google can access and interpret the data behind the video, and serve this up as a natural SERP. While YouTube is the platform with the greatest user base and the one that will generate shares, Wistia’s integrated SEO management makes that content much more search friendly – so use both.

As a basic rule, we suggest launching new campaigns with one distribution platform in mind, and then rolling out subsequent host uploads after your initial marketing push.

Then deliver all other additional pieces relating to this campaign, across all hosts, simultaneously. This will help drive your audience to the initial content first, with subsequent content being offered as a convenience to the viewer, where and when they want it.

3: Post a transcript (or closed captions) alongside your video

Does your video include speech? If so, try including a transcript of the dialogue alongside your video within the HTML. Make sure you add this to the closed captions section of your hosted video and place it in the description of your content on your hosted channel. This all provides the search engines with additional, crawlable content that adds relevancy to the page and covers off some of those important long tail queries – which can really generate some significant traffic.

Long tail search is likely to be a big consideration in the future, as Google develops its Hummingbird algorithm to semantically understand search results relating to human conversation, so don’t neglect this important element.

These transcripts can also be used as translation subtitles, enabling you to naturally provide localised versions of their content quickly, as part of your standard distribution practice.

4: Rich Video Snippets

We’ve mentioned earlier that crawlable players are search friendly, but we can enhance this even further by using, “rich video snippets”.

Rich video snippets are elements that Google can pull into its standard search results, including thumbnails, titles, descriptions, tags and so on. The more information that you provide, the more Google has to work with.

Sitemaps are useful for providing the search engine with additional information and the locations of a video. These are like regular XML sitemaps, but they help search engines understand and categorise the value of the metadata, increasing your chances of being featured in those prominent search positions.

Also remember to utilise the Schema.org markup, which helps to bring the thumbnail into the SERPs and give a rich snippet.

Your video rich snippets should also be aligned with the searchers intent. After all, someone searching for a credit card for people with poor credit scores is probably less likely to be looking for video content and more likely to be looking at a comparison of cards and interest rates.

5: Measure, review and improve

Exploring the world of video production is not a linear process. Once you’re creating content and distributing this content effectively, it’s important to refine, track and iterate on your results.

Just like any other marketing campaign, you need to understand how successful your activity is and highlight any areas for improvement, so make sure you keep a keen eye on your campaign’s performance.

Most hosting services viewer statistics including loads numbers, number of views, viewer demographics, traffic sources and even viewer engagement levels – use this data to A/B test alternative content strategies to achieve the best results.

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