Video SEO Basics Part 1

Wondering how you can maximize the SEO value of a video you’ve created? If so, this article is for you. We’ll discuss:

  1. Why video can boost your site’s rankings
  2. Where you should host your videos online
  3. Where you should share videos to maximize their SEO value
  4. How to optimize your site for your video to maximize the SEO value

While we’re going to write this article from the perspective of an auto parts and accessories etailer, the content below is pretty universal. If you’re looking for general video SEO advice, you’ve come to the right place.

Do Videos Really Boost Search Engine Rankings?

There’s a lot that’s supposed to make your site rank better on Google, so it can be hard to prioritize. So, before you go spending a small fortune on creating video for your site, it’s a good idea to talk about priorities with someone who knows SEO. Still, all things being equal, Google likes pages with videos:

  • Consumers like video, too. Most people (this Hubspot data says 68%) prefer to watch a video over reading.
  • Video is often the best way to explain/illustrate something. There are a lot of things that defy description, which makes a video the best tool to explain something and/or “sell” the customer.
  • Video is a quality signal. One of Google’s (and Bing’s) biggest challenges is sorting the good websites from the bad ones. Video is one of the ways that Google and Bing evaluate quality: A site with a lot of unique, original videos is probably better than a similar site without video.

We have added video to our client’s product and category pages and seen dramatic increases in organic search traffic – to say nothing of increased conversions and revenue. Even a simple, text-only video like this one can have a substantial impact on a page’s search traffic and overall performance:

This video is really just a quick summary of an existing page of content here. Yet adding this video to the existing page (and doing a couple of other things) bumped it up a few positions and just about tripled our organic traffic to this page year-over-year.

Again, there are lots of things you can do to boost your website’s search engine rankings. There may be something you should prioritize higher than video. However, all things being equal, Google and Bing like pages with videos and reward them with more traffic.

Where Should You Host Your Videos Online?

One of the biggest questions people have about search engine optimizing a video has to do with hosting: Should you host your video yourself, or use a video sharing website like YouTube? For most companies, the answer is to host your videos on a sharing website. Here’s why:

  • Video hosting is resource intensive. If your website hosting already has a lot to do (like, say, power a Magento site), video streaming is going to add a lot to the existing load.
  • Self-hosted video is usually slow. Most web hosting servers aren’t configured to stream video – they’re configured to host a website. As a result, they tend to be slower than a platform optimized for video.
  • Video players are complex. When you self-host a video, you need to make sure the video player you’re using works with most devices. Believe it or not, this is a complex problem, and not every player works every time. YouTube and Vimeo both have good players that work for almost everyone.
  • Shared video hosting can generate traffic. As we’ll explain, even if you self-host video, you still want it on YouTube so it can be found by YouTube’s huge user base. Since it’s going to be uploaded anyways.
  • You can minimize YouTube’s branding and limit related videos. If you’re going to host your videos on YouTube, you can minimize their branding on your embed. You can also make sure that any related videos that show up are from your channel. Use the rel and modest branding parameters on your video embed (the parameters are documented here, and there’s a good explainer here).

If your company is able to invest in a dedicated video server, and your development team is able to manage the weird problems that can crop up with players, then by all means self-host. If you can offer a share/embed option that creates links back to your site, more power to you. But we recommend uploading to YouTube and embedding your video from there to most companies.

NOTE: If your company is self hosting videos, be sure to check out Vimeo Business. You can have a branded player without having to worry about server load, player technology, etc.

Where Should You Share Your Videos For Maximum SEO Benefit?

Now that you know where you’re going to host your video, the next step is to figure out where it should be placed/shared.

1. On your website. If you create a video about a specific product, the best place to put that video is on the product page. If you create a video that addresses a common question, then it’s smart to share it on a blog post (and maybe on your FAQ page, too). If you create a video explaining how your shipping or return process works, then sharing that video on your shipping or returns page is work well.

At Spork, we often place videos on the About page, on product pages, on category pages (we like to create videos for entire categories of products), and then we insert videos into blog posts as well. The only rule we follow: The video has to make sense wherever we place it. If we make an installation video for a specific product, it makes no sense to throw that video on unrelated product pages (for example).

If you place a video on a page that isn’t relevant to the video (say, throwing a testimonial video up on every single product page), one of two things will happen:

  • Either Google will ignore the video, negating one of the benefits of adding video to your site, or
  • Google will view the video as promotional content or spam, meaning it won’t have any positive impact on rankings and could even hurt them

2. On a video sharing website. Obviously, you want to publish your video on YouTube. You want to follow YouTube SEO best practices as outlined in part two of this article.

3. Social media. While every social media site has its own tips and tricks, we typically recommend sharing at least a direct link to your video on Facebook and Twitter. In the case of Facebook, you upload the video directly to your page and share it there, and you may be able to do the same thing on Instagram (only there are some limitations). If you upload directly to Facebook or Instagram, you still want to drop a link to either a page on your website with the video in the description or to YouTube directly…Google/Bing will find and crawl these links.

Cellphone with customer watching a video

Does the embedded video look good on mobile? Is it on a relevant page?

On-Site Video Optimization – Posting To Your Own Website

When you post a video on your own website, you want to do a few things:

  1. Make sure the page is relevant to the video. If the video doesn’t have a relevant page (it’s brand new content), then create a page to host the video, and add some content to that page.
  2. Put a text caption under the video that’s useful. People read captions, and Google weights that text quite a bit when figuring out what keyword(s) are relevant to the video. So, you want a useful/helpful caption that has a search term in it.
  3. Check to make sure the video looks OK on mobile. By default, the YouTube embed code works OK but not great on mobile devices. You can fix it by making the video embed responsive, as explained here. It will require a little coding work, but it’s easy enough to implement, and it will make sure videos look great on every device.
  4. Make sure your site is the first site to embed the video. One of the keys to getting credit for your videos is to make sure your site is the first to embed it. So, immediately after uploading the site to Vimeo or YouTube, be sure to embed it on your site. In the case of YouTube, the first site to embed the video is noted in the video statistics section. This helps Google recognize that your site is content creator/originator, and reduces the odds that someone else will embed your video and enjoy ranking benefits accordingly.
  5. Place the video where it needs to go, based on being useful. If your video is an overview, it should go above the fold. If it’s a supplement to detail down the page, then it should go down the page.

You can also create a video sitemap and even an RSS feed of recent/new videos that you can share with various RSS feed readers. However, these steps aren’t as helpful as they used to be (Google and Bing are very good at finding content these days). Just make sure the page of content that contains the video is in your existing sitemap.

For more info – including a step-by-step guide to optimizing your video for YouTube – check out our next article in this series Video SEO Basics Part Two.


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Auto parts in the cardbox. Automotive basket shop. Auto parts store.