By now it’s common knowledge that you can use your videos to improve your search engine rankings - but what, exactly, do you have to do? Here are 7 specific actions that will maximize your video SEO performance.
1. Your Video MUST be on YouTube
In the early days of search engine video ranking, videos across many hosting sites – and even self-hosted videos – had a good chance of showing up on the first page of searches because Google was in love with videos and wanted to share them with you.
All you had to do was add a relevant title, appropriate tags, and voila! Your video was high in the rankings.
Since then, though, Google’s love for video has undergone some refinement.
Now, while Google still loves video, Google loves YouTube video more than any other kind. Makes sense if you think about it – because Google owns YouTube.
Don’t believe me? Then Google something – how to fix a broken zipper, why is the sky blue, anything – and if you see videos in the results, they’ll most likely be YouTube videos.
If you want SEO juice from your videos, they absolutely MUST be on YouTube.
2. Closed-caption your video
There’s a lot of debate about what closed captions can and cannot do for your video. Some say Google will give your video an SEO boost just because you have captions. Others say the only SEO benefit you’ll get is helping Google understand the content of your videos better.
Either way, captioning is a really good idea.
You can only add so much information to title, tags and description. Captions give Google every word in your video to digest – and thus many more chances to rank in searches.
YouTube has made it easy to caption - you can use services like 3PlayMedia to generate transcripts and captions for you, and once you have the captions file in-hand, you can upload it to YouTube.
YouTube also has a convenient speech recognition program that generates captions automatically - but it's not perfect, and you can really screw up your video SEO if you rely on YouTube's audo-caption tool.
3. Fix your captions
If you do use the auto-caption tool, it’s important to go back in and make sure the captions are correct. This is because speech recognition isn’t perfect, and the tool will misunderstand some of what’s said – especially if technical terms are being used, or if the speaker has an accent. Incorrect titles will be generated, and you’ll look like a rookie.
You’ll also irritate or confuse people who are reading the subtitles for better comprehension.And, you’ll make it harder for Google to rank your video if the terms that are mangled are important.
But fear not – once you use the auto-caption tool, you can easily go back in and fix your closed captions.
4. Stop sabotaging your watch time
‘Watch time’ is the total time viewers spend watching your video. The more watch time, the more SEO mojo for your video.
What you don’t want to do is sabotage your watch time.
How does this happen? You make your video, you upload it, you want to check and make sure everything is all right. So you play it, and then you stop after a few seconds because you’ve confirmed that it plays.
And, maybe you have your IT team checking it in different browsers, on different platforms, whatever. You’re accumulating multiple watches that are minimizing your watch time.
Don’t do this – it’s bad for your video SEO.
Instead, if you need to make sure it plays, or your IT team is checking it, let it play through to the end every time you click play.
Here’s a great link that explains watch time on YouTube
5. Make sure your video file name includes your keyword
Just like alt-text for your images, Google reads your video’s file name. If your video is called “video002.345.mp4,” you’re wasting an opportunity to give Google your key word.
So re-name that video file before you upload it to YouTube.
And - resist the urge to keyword-stuff the file name. Google hates keyword stuffing. Just call it something that reflects what it’s about, and includes a keyword.
6. Optimize your video title, tags, and descriptionChances are you already know this, but it bears repeating. What Google analyzes is text – so your title, tags and description must contain your keywords and must reflect what your video is about.
You should include the name of your YouTube channel, and you should start the description with a url to your website, where people can find out more about you and your products.
This reference is a primer in how to successfully execute basic YouTube video optimization.
7. Optimize your YouTube channel
That’s right – optimization isn’t just for videos. Search engines can also rank your channel independently. Which is one more opportunity to be seen on Google.
This link provides a quick primer for optimizing your YouTube channel.
And there you have it.
If you're a serious marketer, you know your videos can deliver SEO juice for you. Implement these 7 actions, and your videos won't just deliver your message. They'll bring home the SEO bacon.