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Video SEO: 7 Ways Video Boosts SEO

Video is the ultimate one-two punch for any SEO strategy. Not only does online video boost your SEO so that your site gets more links, more views, and better results for the keywords that matter most. It also improves other SEO metrics like dwell time, bounce rate and CTR so that your website stays on top of the Google pile. Video gets your site to rank for competitive keywords and video keeps people around for long enough to engage with your high quality content (which Google loves).

You can trace the importance of video SEO back to May 16th, 2007, the day Google introduced “Universal Search.” At the time it was ground-breaking to see images, shopping sites, videos, blogs and corporate home pages all displayed on the same page in competition with each other for prime digital real estate. Today, we take blended search results for granted. 

Search for a term like Video SEO and you’ll see shopping sites and blogs competing against video tutorials and wikipedia pages for search engine results page (SERP) rankings, and ultimately for clicks. How do you stand out from the crowd of sites?

One proven method is with video. The goal of any video is to increase brand awareness and drive conversions. When you include video on your site you’re more likely to achieve high SERP ranking, which leads to more brand awareness and, hopefully, more conversions. 

Rob Toledo, a user engagement and bounce rate specialist at Shutterstock, said it best: “No longer just an interesting add-on, video has become an important feature for anyone concerned with SEO, conversion rates, or brand recognition. That’s pretty much everyone, then.”

Check out these seven ways that video boosts SEO along with tips for making the most of every video SEO opportunity.

video SEO metrics

1. Google Loves Video

Video creates an SEO cascade effect. Sites with video content are more likely to rank for competitive keywords and show up more prominently in search results. Prime SERP rankings generate more unique visits, and relevant video content works to keep users on-site long enough to signal to Google that “yes, this is a good website for x keyword.” 

This high volume and quality feedback (both important), generate better authority and continued SEO value. As a result, Google search algorithms prioritize websites with quality video content. 

Eric Sui at Entrepeneur describes the importance of video in search results ranking as a shift toward content, not keywords. “Google now cares less about whether you’ve optimized each individual page on your site to a particular keyword and more about whether your page’s content answers the question presented by the search user.” 

Translation—people just want their questions answered. 

Video is fantastic at that, which is why Google prioritizes quality online video. Understanding how people use the internet so you can create videos people want to watch will almost certainly improve SEO results. 

Follow these best practices to create videos that people want to watch:

  • Keep Your Video Short: 30 – 60 seconds is ideal. Engagement rates fall sharply after 4 minutes.
  • Create Rich-Video Snippets: A good thumbnail, short video description, and video sitemap helps bots and users find your video.
  • Transcribe Your Script: A video transcription helps Google crawl your content for relevant keywords.
  • Include keyword rich written descriptions for every video so Google can understand what your video is about.

2. Video Attracts Mobile Users

2016 was the first year when the majority of online traffic came from mobile devices. Since then, video has well and truly gone mobile—and not just for entertainment. According to an extensive Think with Google Insights study, “42% of researchers use a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process. Of those users, there has been 91% growth over the past two years throughout the entire path.” 

Basically, B2B buyers use mobile video to make purchasing decisions from start to finish, not just the discovery phase. That’s a big deal. Optimize your video for mobile viewers to engage highly motivated B2B buyers when they make purchasing decisions. 

B2C marketers have even more reason to focus on mobile users. According to Statista, 62% of video viewers watch videos on mobile. Increased traffic from these viewers helps you maintain high SERP ranking.

3. Video Improves Dwell Time

In 2012, Google introduced “dwell time” to measure how long users spend on site. It’s a roundabout way of measuring keyword relevance, and while it’s not perfect, it’s a great filter to catch sites gaming the keyword system. Valuable sites aimed at helping users get answers to their questions have longer dwell time than irrelevant sites. A dwell time of 1-2 minutes helps Google recognize that your website is relevant to the search query.

video SEO

When you improve your dwell time, you transform your SEO. Video is a powerful way to do that. In Wistia’s survey of their top 100 highest trafficked pages from 2016 they found an interesting trend, pages with video saw a 2.6x dwell time of those without. That’s a massive jump in engagement, and while engagement doesn’t always translate directly to conversions, video content can directly benefit your organic search ranking on Google through engagement metrics.

4. Video Decreases Bounce Rate

 Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing only one page. While sometimes a single page can deliver the answer they need, a high bounce rate may indicate that visitors aren’t seeing what they expected to see on your site. Well-chosen video thumbnails and accompanying text can help people evaluate whether your site is right for them.

video SEO

For instance, a search for “The Mighty Ducks” might display the following: An IMDB page for the Disney film, a Tumblr fan site for the movies, and a National Geographic article about the fighting mallards of Timbuktu. 

A user searching for clips from the film would bounce from the NatGeo site within seconds, but would engage with both IMDB and possibly the Tumblr fan site—if the content was valuable. Google measures the dwell time on the IMDB and Tumblr pages to determine which is more relevant to the search term. The bounce rate on NatGeo, however would only penalize them for that keyword, making them less likely to appear in the future for the same search term.

Video decreases bounce rate by quickly engaging visitors. Once they’re engaged, they’re more likely to click through to other parts of your site.

Oh and EyeView Digital found that including video in a landing page can increase conversion by 80%. So there’s that too.

5. Video Increases Click-through

The right video (and video SERP thumbnail) can increase your click-through-rate (CTR) by as much as 50%. In the screenshot below,  a video thumbnail advertises quality video content and stands out in a text-only wasteland. Which of these results looks the most helpful for building a deck? Which would you click?

video SEO

YouTube automatically creates these thumbnails (they understand how powerful rich snippets are), but don’t rely on YouTube to do the dirty work for you. Rich video snippets from your YouTube channel take users directly to YouTube–not your homepage or landing page. If you’re driving all the clicks and traffic to YouTube, you’re losing the potential SEO boost. Plus, you’re adding extra steps for leads before they convert. 

Shorten the buyer’s journey by optimizing your rich video snippets on your own site, so that videos on your url rank in Google search results. Here’s how: 

  • Embed Video Directly to Your Homepage — Nothing beats the sweet SEO juice of a great homepage video
  • Embed Video Directly to a Dedicated Landing Page — Drive CTR for a timely campaign or track growth for something like newsletter signups
  • Create Rich-Video Snippets — Thumbnails and metadata matter. Take the time to do it right.

YouTube, Vimeo, and self-hosting providers like Wistia, offer increased reach, but nothing beats the SEO benefits of landing page video marketing right on your domain.

Best Practices for Improving CTR with Online Video:

  • Embed Video Directly to Your Homepage — Nothing beats the sweet SEO juice of a great homepage video
  • Embed Video Directly to a Dedicated Landing Page — Drive CTR for a timely campaign or track growth for something like newsletter signups
  • Create Rich-Video Snippets — Thumbnails and metadata matter. Take the time to do it right.

6. Video Strengthens Link Building

According to SEO expert, Casey Henry at Moz, “A video will almost triple the average number of linking domains compared to just text.”

And Henry should know, periodically Moz asks 150 leading SEO experts to rank the most influential factors for Search Engine Ranking Factors. The most recent list (2015) ranks Domain Level Links (quantity of links, trust, and domain-level page rank) as the #1 most important ranking factor. The next most important factor according to the experts? Page Level Links (aka landing pages, blogs, FAQs, and dedicated video pages on your site.

video SEO

In short, links matter. A lot. The content that you publish online will do more than bring visitors to your site. I will encourage others to link back to your page.  If you create quality, useful, helpful content you can garner thousands of high-quality links from industry professionals and community sites with high buying intent. 

Quality videos can earn you national reach with the right media and news outlets. Influencers can amplify the reach and trust-factor of your brand and your site with social shares and backlinks. Good video is a driving force in SEO, perhaps the biggest driving source if the experts are to be believed. Make sure your video is good enough for people to link back to it.

7. It Makes The Long-Tail Longer

When HubSpot tracked visits to their site, they found a few massive spikes (on the left) with popular pages, their homepage, and a few “viral” blog posts got the most visits. However, when they added up all their site visits, the majority of HubSpot’s inbound traffic came from all of the other pages. Each one had only a few hits, but when added together, they made up the majority of Hubspot’s traffic. Successful long tail marketing is about the aggregate.

video SEO

A viral video is great, but it’s rare for B2B video. A much more valuable metric for your video’s ROI is the video view count over the long tail.

  • Does your video consistently get views every month?
  • Is it always quietly working to funnel potential customers to your website and eventually your sales funnel?

If so, then your video is a success. Even a modest B2B video can provide steady value for years with little or no input on your end. Measure the success of your video on a longer timeline for more accurate results.

Google’s algorithms are opaque, even to SEO pros, but they all agree that regularity is a key factor for SERP ranking. Rand Fishkin, from Moz, is the king of all things SEO and thanks to his top quality weekly video series, Whiteboard Friday, Moz ranks for practically every keyword that has to do with SEO.

Every week Moz adds to the cumulative value of their site with more and more helpful video content. This strategy is “death by a thousand cuts” and it works—if you have the ability to create quality video on a regular schedule.

Video SEO: Quality Matters

Video SEO is essential to your marketing strategy, but keep in mind that you need quality video to get quality results. A low-quality explainer video erodes credibility. Even if you manage to rank for the right keywords, a bad video will ruin all your progress. A high bounce rate will lower your SERPs, and you’ll disappear from the rankings in no time. You’ll get fewer leads, less engagement, and ultimately fewer conversions.

On the other hand, a high quality video can build trust, improve dwell time, strengthen your link building and push you higher on SERPs. When it comes to video SEO, quality matters.

Before you start making a video and throughout the process, keep yourself on track with one simple question: Would I share this video? If the answer is “no,” redefine your target audience and try again. Remember what video is for: to add value to potential customers and cultivate leads. 

For more info about how you can succeed with animated video, download our new eBook, How to Succeed with Animated Video, and get started supercharging your SEO strategy with high quality video.

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