Video SEO is supposed to be orders of magnitude stronger than text-based SEO. So I’ve been researching it to figure out how to do it for my own website and to advise clients. The more I researched, the more confused I got. The enormous gravitational pull of YouTube distorts everything within its reach. I couldn’t find a clear answer regarding whether the impressive statistics concerning video SEO were only for YouTube traffic, or if there was a way to leverage it to drive traffic elsewhere (e.g. www.acSellerant.com).
So I decided to ask the experts. I received several responses, most of which did little to clear my confusion. One man responded with coherent, actionable advice, so I asked if I could interview him. That interview appears below. Meet Daniel Loeschen:
Daniel Loeschen is CEO of LT Creative Media (www.ltcreativemedia.com), an online marketing company focused on content marketing and social media, and is the Marketing Director for an industrial mixing company called Mixer Direct (www.mixerdirect.com). He lives in Louisville, KY with his wife and three kids. Daniel loves photography and riding motorcycles for inspiration – “sounds crazy, but it works.”
Bob: “The stats that I see really make the case for using video for SEO. What I wonder about is, are those stats reflective of the power of YouTube? Many of the search results I get for videos are hosted on YouTube. Since Google owns YouTube, do they give it preference in search results?”
Daniel: “Currently there seems to be no preference given in Google search to videos hosted on YouTube over videos hosted on site. The reason it seems like that is because of how massive a platform YouTube is. Google does own it and connects it to Google+. So given how big Google and YouTube are, it shows up far more often in search results simply because of the ratio of videos on YouTube to videos not on YouTube.
You’re absolutely right about a case for Video SEO. Video is becoming a huge player in terms of search results, clicks, and conversions. As search marketers, if we aren’t adding video SEO to our bag of tricks, we’re missing a golden opportunity.”
Bob: “I want to optimize my videos so that people searching for what I’m selling will be shown my website URLs for those videos. Do I have to post these videos to my YouTube channel and optimize them there? How would that drive traffic to my website?”
Daniel: “No you do not. As a matter of fact, if all you’re doing is optimizing your YouTube channel, you won’t be driving traffic to your site. It is notoriously difficult to lure people away once they’re on YouTube. Where you host your video is all about strategy and what you’re trying to accomplish. YouTube is great for branding or getting viral content in front of a lot of people, but it’s not the best platform if your goal is driving traffic to your site. Even if you embed a YouTube video on your site and it shows up in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), when someone clicks on it, they’ll be taken to YouTube.”
Bob: “If I only host them on my website, do I pay a penalty? Should I host them on Vimeo, YouTube AND my website? It seems to me like that would cannibalize my traffic. Or do the other postings somehow give the video search engine credibility?
Daniel: “Vimeo, YouTube, and any other public hosting site all do the same thing – drive traffic to themselves. You’re right. That will cannibalize your traffic. Videos that are meant to drive traffic to your site should ONLY be hosted on your site. If you want to create a video that is specifically for branding and getting your name in front of people, then YouTube, Vimeo, etc. are great for that.
A video hosted on your site should add value to the page it’s on. Things like product videos, how-to videos, and explainer videos should reside on a page where the textual content and video content are congruent. The video and page copy should work together to lead the viewer to the next step in your sales funnel.”
Bob: “Say I’m only hosting my videos on my site (or I post to my YouTube channel, but only optimize the videos on my site), what are the steps to do? Is it the same process as optimizing text?”
Daniel: “One of the biggest issues is to make sure your video is relevant to the content on the page. I know that sounds basic, but it’s really important. Place the video prominently on the page, so the first thing a visitor sees is the video… and make sure the thumbnail is inviting, that it entices them to press ‘Play’. The title in the embed code of the video should be a relevant search term for the video AND the content on the page.
Finally add the video to the most recent site map of your website and update Google webmaster tools with it. Ultimately, technical SEO aside, if your video is engaging and providing a great user experience, then it will do well in the search engines. Unfortunately there are no ‘do this and that will happen’ tricks with Google anymore.”
Bob: “Does Google give more search ranking weight to videos than to text?”
Daniel: “Yes, but not simply because it’s video. Google gives more weight to fresh, rich, and engaging content. Fresh content being content that is new. Rich content meaning more than just text. And engaging meaning people are interacting with it, sharing it, and it’s providing a good user experience.”
Bob: “What is a Google rich snippet?”
Daniel: “A rich snippet is a thumbnail that shows up in the SERP next to the listing. Videos show up as a rich snippet with a little play button on them, and if a blog’s authorship is set up then a rich snippet with the author’s picture will show up in the SERP. Rich snippet just means that a thumbnail image shows up next to the search result.”
Bob: “Do I make XML sitemaps of the videos on my site, or just include the videos in the sitemap of my site?”
Daniel: “You can do both. Making an XML sitemap of the videos is best, but adding them to an existing one will do the same job. The advantage of making a video XML sitemap is that when you submit it to Webmaster Tools it counts as structured data. That helps Google crawl more efficiently. Schema.org has a great markup for this.”
Bob: “What about tagging? Google can’t read the titles on my videos, right? So how do I tell it what each video contains?”
Daniel: “The best way is in the embed code. There will be a title and description in the embed code. If your embed codes do not contain these things, change them immediately. Then when you add these videos to your sitemap make sure the title and descriptions are exactly the same, this helps keep things consistent… and helps Google crawl efficiently.”
We’re running long, so that’s all for now. Daniel will be back in the future with more Video SEO info and tips. In the meantime, if you have any questions for Daniel, feel free to post them in the Comments section below.