SEO experts recommend that businesses publish the best quality content they can afford to create. That content could take many forms, and some businesses are experimenting with video as an alternative to blogs and articles.
Many video SEO guides only cover the basics of general SEO: researching keywords, creating descriptions and so on. I’m skipping the more basic topics and moving directly on to optimisation techniques specifically for video content.
Why Bother With Video Content?
You might be wondering how video content can work for your business, particularly if your blogs and articles are getting shares and links already. Video can actually serve lots of purposes. It can help to bring your portfolio to life, make your blog more varied or demonstrate your products more effectively. (Stacks and Stacks, a US retailer, found that customers were 144 per cent more likely to make a purchase when they added video. These kind of impressive results are easy to find.)
We’ve produced video reviews for Rated Cloud, a review website, and we also produce training videos that can be viewed on mobile devices. We make all of these videos using Camtasia Studio or Camtasia for Mac; you can use it to produce practically any kind of video content without a huge investment of time.
If you’re on the fence about video content, I’d recommend playing around with Camtasia Studio to see if it whets your appetite. (Plug alert: we’ve written a book on Camtasia Studio that you might find useful.)
Your Video SEO Strategy
When creating your video, and crafting content around it, it’s crucial to maintain high standards. Make sure that the information in your video is just as authoritative, accurate and valuable as the articles you publish on your blog. Don’t skimp on the preparation with video either. Write a good script first, invest in a decent microphone and make sure you plan an outline before you hit record.
Now, let’s run through some practical video SEO tips that you can use once the video’s finished.
Tell Google About Your Video Content
If you publish blogs using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, you’ll probably be aware of the importance of an accurate, up to date sitemap. Google’s crawlers use sitemaps to understand where all of your content is, and it makes indexing much more straightforward.
There’s a video equivalent: the video sitemap. If you produce video, you must create one. It’ll feed Google metadata that’s otherwise impossible for Google to find, such as the video’s duration, your preferred player and a parental guidance rating.
Video sitemaps are submitted through Google Webmaster Tools, or via your robots.txt file, just like regular sitemaps. Your videos will be indexed soon after your new sitemap’s been crawled for the first time. You can have up to 50,000 videos in one sitemap, and all of the videos in a sitemap have to include the http:// protocol at the start of the link.
You can obtain more guidance directly from Google.
Optimise Your YouTube Listing
Camtasia Studio can produce video in a wide range of formats, and it can also upload the final video to several different sites. Screencast.com is one; YouTube is another. We’ve covered the differences between Screencast.com and YouTube in our Camtasia Studio book, so I won’t go into too much detail in this article, but YouTube has some obvious SEO benefits:
- YouTube’s the second most popular search engine in the world after Google, so optimise for search. Use keywords and craft a really good description.
- One billion people visit YouTube each month. Optimise your title to get their attention. Viewers are more likely to notice keywords if they’re at the beginning of the title, but don’t trick people into clicking on your video link.
- Create custom thumbnails. This is really important if your video’s made in Camtasia Studio, since it may be made up of screencast content that doesn’t translate well to a thumbnail. If that’s the case, you can upload JPG thumbnails that look much better. Take a look at the custom thumbnails we created for our Rated Cloud videos.
- If you’re serious about marketing on YouTube, create a branded channel.
So as you can see, Screencast.com is not the ideal destination for video if SEO’s the goal. Techsmith admits that it has some work to do in this area. You can embed video from Screencast.com on your own site, though.
Upload Text Content: Captions vs Transcripts
This is another YouTube tip, but it warrants its own section.
On YouTube, you can supplement your video with captions or a transcript. They’re essentially the same thing. Captions have time codes attached, but a transcript is a simple text copy of your spoken word track, so you can create it directly from your script in a few minutes.
Both will give you an SEO advantage, since they present another opportunity to get your keywords onto the page as text.
- If you’re using Camtasia Studio, create your own captions for the video on the timeline. You can then export these captions and import them directly to YouTube, complete with time codes.
- Don’t let YouTube automatically create a transcript. Automatic speech recognition is rarely accurate, particularly if there are background music tracks or sound effects in the video.
Using a Video Call to Action
The aim of optimisation is to increase revenue, in most cases. How will you achieve that with video? Normally, you’ll want the viewer to click a link to another site.
On YouTube, you can use video annotations to add links. This is a great way of creating backlinks, which are valuable for building traffic back to your product pages. You can also use a call to action to create a subscription link to build your YouTube following, or prompt your viewers to share the video on social media. Neither is directly responsible for generating revenue, but both are valuable actions nonetheless.
If you’ve never created an annotation, here’s how it’s done: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/92710?topic=14354&hl=en-GB
Creating an Optimised Landing Page For the Video
Create a landing page on your own website and embed the video there. When you embed and publish the video on your own site, you can use some regular optimisation techniques on the page; these work with Screencast.com and YouTube content:
- Reinforce your keywords in the page content, title and meta description.
- Use the correct content structure: H1s, H2s and – if you’re looking ahead – HTML5 sectioning elements.
- Use the video transcript alongside your page content (Moz does this for its Whiteboard Friday video content).
- Include social sharing links.
- Make a concerted effort to share the page on social media and publish it as widely as possible. Get help from free services like Buffer and OneLoad.
Investing Time in Video SEO Pays Dividends
A business that makes large amounts of video content is a rarity, so if you start producing video content for SEO, you’ve already given yourself an edge. How tos, reviews and viral videos work particularly well: people often prefer to watch videos on these topics rather than reading text.
But competition on YouTube is intense, and even the best optimisation in the world can’t make a terrible video worth watching. Optimisation is really important, but make sure your video’s the best it can be. And if you’re going to start using video, publish new episodes frequently so that your subscribers always have something new to watch.
Got any more video SEO tips? Post them in the comments to share them with our readers.