Online video is now a virtual requirement and one of the best practices for businesses to gain an advantage competitively. Video boosts search engine results, increases stickiness, and improves conversion rates. Smart online video lets businesses reach consumers in real time with what they need to know in the most engaging, informative, and entertaining way possible.
In order to understand the best search engine optimization (SEO) practices, you need to first know the value of video SEO.
The value of video SEO
Many of today's online businesses find that gaining market share has more to do with winning a competitor's customers than with expanding the size of the industry. One of the most effective and widely used tools to increase market share is employing comprehensive SEO strategies.
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According to an internet-retailer survey conducted in August 2011, 53 percent of e-retailer respondents claimed they would continue to increase their search engine marketing (SEM) spending this year. According to the survey, more than half of the respondents claim that up to 26 percent of the traffic to their sites comes from natural search, and nearly 50 percent claim this percentage has increased during 2010 and 2011.
Video continues to be the fastest-growing format, and by implementing a thorough video SEO strategy, companies can complement their SEM investments, if not decrease them significantly. Simply put, video helps businesses get found online. Companies can increase the value of their videos further by following basic video SEO guidelines, making them more accessible to site visitors, scaling videos to reach long-tail keywords, and automating production to have video available as soon as new products are introduced.
Best practices for implementing video SEO
In a 2009 report, following the introduction of Google's universal search, Forrester Research concluded that video results on Google have a 50 percent better chance of appearing first on result lists than on text-based sites. Video results are more appealing because they include thumbnails that grant more search page real estate. The thumbnail attracts eyes to the results, regardless of the ranking order. In a traditional search of textual results, there was a common tendency to view the results by their organic order -- scanning the page from the upper-left corner, down vertically, and then across -- when a title catches the viewer's attention. Effective video SEO requires a range of guidelines and activities. The goal of these guidelines is to provide as much information about the videos and embed them in a way that provides search bots and crawlers with an understanding of what the video is about. Unlike on textual pages, bots cannot automatically gather this information.
Video for every product: Add as many videos as possible to increase the chances of being discovered. There is a common misperception among businesses that the top 20 percent of the products account for 80 percent of site traffic. However, that's not the case, as seen with a few industry avant-gardes (led by Overstock, Zappos, and HSN Stores) that have video-enabled tens of thousands of their products. Scaling the video repository enables targeting long-tail keywords, which generates significantly more traffic and a more targeted audience.
Keep videos updated: To maximize SEO potential, the content of all videos should keep up with any changes made to the product page content. The challenge with content on business sites is that it's constantly changing -- prices fluctuate, seasonal deals are launched or expire, last-minute offers are added, etc. Automated video solutions can help maintain video-content pace.
On-site video: Many e-commerce businesses are posting videos on their YouTube channels. By neglecting to implement videos on the company's website, they miss out on significant SEO potential. Videos with a unique URL maximize SEO benefits; therefore, we recommend placing each video on its own landing page.
SEO-friendly video URLs: Similar to general web page SEO guidelines, videos embedded on the site should have SEO-friendly or "clean" URLs. Specifically, for video SEO, it is important to include the video format file extension relevant to the video, such as .FLV, .WMV and .AVI.
Video sitemaps: Google rarely indexes videos on its own. It is therefore important to create a complete video sitemap to help Google discover and index each video. Video sitemaps should describe the entire repository of videos embedded in the website.
Properly embed videos: Search bots have short attention spans. They need to identify the video on the page they're scanning within the context it appears.
- Avoid browser pop-ups: Embed the video so that it plays on the web page itself and doesn't appear in a browser pop-up. This is important because the embedded video object needs to be available for search engine bots when they crawl the page.
Add video metadata: In addition to explicit contextual information, search bots look for metadata that can help them further understand the content of the video and optimize the way the results look on the search results page. The key elements in this metadata are video length, video dimensions, video thumbnail, and video transcript (a written version of the video).
Synchronize video content: To enhance the SEO effect of online videos, it is important that the content of the video matches the content of the page in which it is embedded. Therefore, when embedding a video on a product page, ensure the following:
- Provide the video with a descriptive title in accordance with the H1 title of that web page.
- Add keywords to the video in correspondence to the keywords of the web page.
Some of the best practices prescribed above are quite challenging to maintain with manually produced videos. However, they are possible with automated solutions. The automation of video production today can support best practices by creating videos at scale with quicker-than-ever time to market and dynamic data that is kept current when sites get updated. With relatively little human intervention, online video production can increase a business's competitive advantage, while creating a better shopping experience for the user.
Yaniv Axen is the co-founder and CTO of SundaySky.
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