- January 27, 2020
- 3D Animation
After more than two decades and tens of thousands of Google updates, we’ve all had plenty of time to recognize the importance of text to SEO efforts. Video, on the other hand, is a much newer variable on the search optimization scene, and its benefits are still being worked out.
One thing is clear: text will always be a vital signaler to Google of a site’s authority and rank worthiness. But the following are some facts, and speculation, about how pairing video with text can improve your ability to garner those all-important views…
Ranking in Video Searches
Although pages with video can rank in Google’s universal search, earning one of these coveted spots is difficult. Still, it’s possible to secure a high rank with your video somewhere else: in Google’s Video Search and in YouTube’s search results. Targeting these search engines can often be a more realistic and rewarding undertaking.
What ranks well in Google is not guaranteed to rank well on YouTube, but videos hosted on YouTube do tend to rise to the top of Google rankings for certain search queries. One study found nearly 75% of videos in the top 10, and nearly 93% of videos in the top 20 of Google results were YouTube videos.
Embedding a YouTube Video Can Increase Its Popularity
Because views on embedded video count the same as views on YouTube itself, you can create a chain of positive SEO by offering video content on your site. Here’s how the best-case scenario works:
As people click your embedded video, your YouTube view count goes up, which raises your YouTube ranking. This in turn increases the likelihood that it will rank highly in Google (although YouTube and Google rankings are not perfectly correlated – one study showed the ranking order in YouTube and Google was the same in 43.2% of searches), which has strong motivation to rank YouTube’s videos highly, especially for queries where video offers the best solution, like “how to” or “how do” searches.
Promoting your videos on social platforms can accomplish the same thing, only instead of finding the video on your site, a user finds it on Facebook or Instagram. Either way, the YouTube video count climbs, so you’ve got every reason to promote your vids on virtually any third-party sites that will have them and that includes a relevant audience.
You can also go the paid ads route on social media, including on YouTube, to reach a targeted audience. It’s effectively a way to buy organic traffic, which isn’t possible in Google Search.
Improving Your On-page SEO
Assuming you already have text and images on your website, adding video creates a nice mix of content that signals Google your site is well-rounded and helpful for visitors. It also provides more opportunities to enhance on-page SEO signals. Specifically, it can do this via:
- the video heading, which presents an opportunity for relevant keywords;
- the video’s file name, which tells search engines what the video’s about;
- the transcript, which can help viewers who can’t or don’t want to hear the audio, while also helping Google understand what the video’s about;
- VideoObject schema, which provides the opportunity to tell more about your video to search engines (duration, upload date, a description, and thumbnail URL) in a structured format it understands. In return, you get performance data in Google Search Console.
- Key Moments, which allows you to mark up important moments of the video, allowing Google to offer viewers quick links to different parts of a video within its search results.
Boosting SEO Indirectly
Video can benefit your performance in search in secondary ways, as well:
Having video instead of just text nearly triples the average number of linking domains, according to SEO software developer Moz, no doubt due to the inherent shareability of video content. Links are still a crucial part of Google’s ranking algorithm, demonstrating that others find your site to be a useful resource worthy of citation.
Even if the video is watched on YouTube, you can add clickable links to your site in numerous places around YouTube: individual video descriptions, your channel’s banner (which allows up to 5 links), and Cards and End Screens, which pop up during or after video playback.
Although Google denies it, many SEO experts believe the company factors in user engagement metrics such as “time on page” and “bounce rate” in their algorithm. If they’re right, sites with video would stand to benefit greatly as video content naturally lends itself to better engagement.
For example, offering both video and text can appeal to users with unique preferences [link], thereby increasing engagement and, so the thinking goes, ranking.
Also, the numbers are clear: people like video. Giving them what they want is a winning business strategy as old as business itself and a likely way to achieve happier visits and higher rankings.
If nothing else, videos have been shown to improve conversion rates by as much as 80%. Ultimately, selling your product or service is usually the goal of SEO anyway, so engaging a user enough to give you money is always going to be a win.
Branding to Improve Click-through Rate
Your video’s title is an opportunity to get your name out there–the more viewers associate your brand with helpful videos, the more likely they are to click through when your site pops up in universal search.
Hosting content in both video and text formats allows for additional branding opportunities in Google’s organic search results.
For example, Google might display 3 text results followed by 3 YouTube for a search query. If you rank as the third text result you might expect less traffic than the top 2 results. But, if the searcher also glimpses your name in one of the YouTube videos, the added exposure might be enough to win the click.
Strengthening Your Google My Business Profile
If you’re a local business, Google allows both you and your customers to add video (30 seconds max each) to your Google My Business profile that can appear in Google Maps or local web search results.
Again, although this officially doesn’t affect your rankings, the indirect benefits of higher click-through rates and a more engaged online presence can be their own reward.
Google Still Isn’t Good at Understanding Video Content
The latest AI advancements have allowed computers to recognize objects within video; teaching them to understand what’s actually happening in a video is still a ways off. Until then, Google’s software relies on text to “see” what your video is about. So you can’t skimp on strong content.
The good news is that this process is a two-way street: just as the written copy gives more detail about the video, the video provides further reinforcement to the text as Google’s understanding of audio and visual improves. Offering users excellent versions of both media should compound your sway with Google’s crawlers.