Using Video for Blended Search Optimization

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When you consider that there are 10 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, you probably start wondering how to incorporate video into your marketing or public relations strategy. You don’t have to come up with the next viral video success, however, to leverage this medium’s potential. There are other ways to employ video, and one of the most tangible is for SEO purposes.

Online video can do wonders for your search profile. Of course, seeing as search engines can’t exactly crawl videos the way they do text, video also poses a bit of an SEO challenge. If you’re going to use video for your communications needs, then you’re going to have to know (1) what it can do for you, and (2) what its limitations are so that you can the most out of it.

The Value of Video

The SEO potential of video has to do with what’s called universal (or blended) search. If you’ve ever got a mix of blog, news, and/or image results when conducting a search, then you’ve seen what blended search is all about. Blended search results are what happens when there is so much relevant content from different verticals (news, blogs, images, etc.), that it takes the top results from each of those verticals and shows them to you in one page.

So not only can video raise your brand’s search profile within the video search vertical, but it can do so in regular search. By proliferating your branded content across multiple verticals, you will increase the chances that the first page of search results on your brand name (and related keywords) will feature content that you control. There are few ways in which video accomplishes this.

Reputation Management

Think about this way: every spot you own on the first page of Google is a spot that you keep away from someone else. As far as your brand name is concerned then, having a blended search profile means exercising greater control over your online public image. By having branded channels on YouTube, Blip.tv, and other video sharing sites, you’re that much more likely to grab one more spot on the first page of search results.

Organic Traffic

Often, if you have sufficient video content on your actual site, Google will place a thumbnail of a screenshot from that video to the left of your search listing. Not only do such images catch the user’s eye, but studies show they experience a high click-through rate (CTR). The higher CTR is probably because user’s eyes are drawn to the visual. Either way, by deploying branded video through a variety of channels you achieve the main objective of SEO: overshadowing competitors on the SERPs and gaining the user’s click.

SEOing Your Video Content

Now the problem with video vis a vis SEO is that search engine index content based on keywords. Since videos don’t contain an actual keywords, search engines have trouble indexing them unless you help them out.

Get Branded Video Channels

It’s imperative that when you upload videos to your branded channels on video sharing sites, you make sure to put in all the relevant keyword information.

The first step in doing this is to set up branded video channels on major video sharing sites. The reason is that search engines consider URL structure when they index content — i.e. if a keyword appears in the URL, that page is that much more likely to rank for that keyword. For example, having a slew of video content on www.youtube.com/yourbrandname is a solid way to tell search engines that this content is relevant to your brand name.

Tag and Describe Your Video

When uploading content to video sharing sites, they offer two different fields in which you can add keywords to your videos: tags and description. Major search engines consider both of these in determining how to index video content.

In the tag field, your main objective is to enter keywords through which you want users to find your content. Consequently, you should include (1) your brand name, (2) your industry, and (3) anything to do with the video’s topic.

In the description field for your videos, you want to put in a description that both describes what the video is all about and uses your brand name and any other keywords you want the video to rank for. It’s also important to not make the description too spammy or jingoistic.

First, search engines look for overly repeated keywords when determining whether a piece of content is spam or not. Generally, you want to aim for a 4-8% keyword density — meaning that any given keyword you are trying to rank for should comprise at least 4% of the description’s total word count, but not exceed 8% because then search engines are likely to penalize you. When trying to strike that 4-8% keyword density, moreover, you should also consider the tags you’ve included with the video.

Finally, you want to avoid jingoistic descriptions because users are less likely to click on your video. Fewer views means less of a chance of getting your video linked back to, and, as everyone knows, backlinks are integral to a good search ranking.

Share Your Own Content

Backlinks bring us to the next SEO point: linking your video content. It’s old news that Google (and other search engines) consider the anchor text of link when they index the destination page of that link. So it’s ideal when one of the videos on your branded video channel gets a link that contains anchor text.

Consequently, you might want to link back to your own videos. The best way to do this is through a company blog, where you can embed that actual video and include a link back to the YouTube or Blip.tv page where it is hosted.

If you embed your video on a blog or web page, moreover, you might want to add title and alt tags to the embed code. While title tag tells search engines what the embedded object is, alt tags are meant to provide a description of the object for the visually impaired, but also give search engines additional text to index.

The Sum of Video

With online video continuing to grow in popularity and promising to have a very bright future, it is a medium that marketing and public relations practitioners can’t afford to ignore. Through its SEO potential, video offers a great opportunity to leverage blended search in shoring up your reputation management and traffic generating efforts.

In terms of SEO, however, online video is not without its limitations. It’s imperative, then, that if you’re going to incorporate video into your online marketing strategy (and you should) that you take the necessary steps to make sure that search engines index them appropriately. This can be easily achieved by using popular video sharing sites and the tools they offer to categorize your video content. Through branded video channels, so long as you describe, tag, and share your videos, it should only be a matter of time before that content is indexed by search engines, and shows up on blended search results pages.

Photo credit: YouTube and Joost by thms.nl

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