iMedia Connection

5 ways to optimize video for search

Diane Buzzeo

With video expected to reach 90 percent of all web traffic by 2014, Google continues to hand over its search engine real estate to video content, pushing traditional web results further to the bottom -- if not completely off -- the page. While Google's widely used "universal search" causes problems for organic web results by limiting its plain text results, it opens the door for websites with video content. Despite these new opportunities, businesses repeatedly neglect video in their SEO strategies.

From viral ads to mini-documentaries, internet videos are becoming the quickest way to offer unique content to a broader audience. Moreover, they are tools (which many e-commerce businesses already have in their arsenal) companies can use to complement their overall SEO strategy toward achieving a first-page ranking on Google, not to mention drive traffic, leads and content sharing. With a 41 percent higher click-through rate than plain text, according to Search Engine Watch, videos are integral to the success of any SEO strategy.

Here are five simple ways to start optimizing your video content for top search results. 

Quality matters

If you're in the business of selling footwear, posting a cooking video would be both out-of-place and ineffective. To successfully incorporate video into your web presence, make sure you're providing useful and relevant information. Never upload a video for the sake of having videos. Google is flexible on what it considers video content, so there's no excuse for having nothing at all. Animated slide shows, screen captures, and images work just as well as b-roll. When choosing what content to display, keep it short, 10 minutes at maximum. The longer the video, the more likely you are to lose your viewer's attention. Divide lengthier clips into multiple segments that can be programmed for release over a period of time. Shorter clips enable you to associate each with more accurate keywords, which, in turn, increases views.

Host or post your video

For the location of your video, there are two primary options: host it locally on your own site, or post it on a third-party site, such as YouTube or Vimeo. Hosting videos directly on your page is the best move for increasing traffic to your site. Posting clips elsewhere, however, is the appropriate solution for maximizing total views and social media shares. Ultimately, the smartest bet is to host and post -- but note that the upload process differs slightly for each. Make sure to include "video" in the title and description when hosting on your own site to make sure it's properly indexed (this step is unnecessary on video-hosting pages.)

Use keywords in all of the right places

Google can't analyze a video and "read" its content, making keywords and tags crucial components in allowing search engines to unlock your video's contents. Google ranks videos primarily on the margin of overlap between search keywords and the clip's title, so take the time to weave important terms into the naming process. From there, don't skip the seemingly minute details: Make sure to utilize video tags, write a complete video description, and build an identifiable URL to increase your video's exposure. Associating a text transcript with your videos is also a great way to provide search engines and sites like YouTube or Vimeo with an inside look, and make your content accessible to special-needs audiences.

Adjust your sitemaps accordingly

One of the most common video SEO errors is the belief that after posting a webpage with video content, the video is automatically indexed and linked to your site. This is not true. Without a video sitemap, Google is blind to the subject of your video and will be unable to index it or include it in related search results. Creating a video sitemap lets search engines specifically identify and tag your videos, making them recognizable by web browsers. An effective video sitemap should include the video file, a thumbnail image, a full title and description.

Spread the word

After optimizing your video on the back-end, it's time to spread the word. Post links to your video on Facebook, Twitter, and your company blog. Allow and encourage viewers to comment and share your video with their networks. The more you promote your multimedia content, the more visible you're likely to become, which can translate to more site visitors and, hopefully, more sales.

Diane Buzzeo is the founder and CEO of Ability Commerce.

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"Film with images" image via Shutterstock.