Every time Google updates its search algorithm, things seem to change for your site's SEO. Last fall there was Panda, now there's Penguin, and while many of the changes are minor, some of them represent major departures from the way you thought search worked.
With Penguin, it's been widely touted as a way to improve search for high-quality sites. Panda was seen to boost online video, and Penguin hasn't changed that. This means that since October 2011, videos and sites that host videos show up higher in the search rankings. Whether you are involved with B2B or B2C marketing, there are a few ways you can tap into this major shift in search.
What makes video so great for search?
One major factor is that the old rules still apply to video. Remember when you could title your website and stuff the header with meta keywords and search engines would find it? Now it's about content and crosslinking, and every Google update makes you throw out what you thought you knew.
Not so with video. Video cannot include text (although a transcript will do double-duty on this), so you have few choices beyond titling, tagging with keywords, and including notes and annotations. This is what the search engines use to find video, so you can still use some of your old-school techniques for video SEO.
How to combine the old-school with nu skool:
- Titling. The title of your video matters a great deal for SEO. This is why it is recommended to use your primary keyword in the title. One practice you see a lot is to start with a keyword, then a colon, followed by the clever marketing title that you wanted to use. It's also a good idea to title your video in a way that describes what happens in it. Social Media Examiner talks about titles in its post about how to maximize YouTube marketing, and some of the ideas translate across all channels, not just YouTube.
- Tags and Descriptions. Every video hosting platform allows you to describe and tag your videos for search. This works for the platform's own search mechanism as well as the search engines. The description fields may be limited in the number of characters, but they should allow links as well as keyword-rich descriptions. Tag fields are usually unlimited in the number of tags and characters, so you can use whatever keywords you think are best to describe your content. In his online marketing blog, TopRank, Lee Odden talks about using Google Adwords and other online tools to find the best keywords for tagging videos.
- Annotating. YouTube includes an annotation feature that lets you include links into your videos. They essentially hover over your video as it plays, for a period of time you determine. The annotations can be links, notes, supporting information, source data, and anything else you think is useful. The viewer can follow the link to a new page (Update: from the comments below, the link must be within YouTube, not outside), and you can track user clickthroughs through YouTube's own analytics tools, as well as capture information from people who find your landing pages this way. Annotations are in the moment, and appear within the display viewers are looking at.
- Sharing. Video is the killer app for social media. Social networks are also the best way to help a video be seen. As long as you use tactics to make sure your videos appeal to an audience, such as making it human, making it about the viewer, not your company, you won't have to a viral sensation to publish a successful video. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ are all platforms that help people gain awareness of your business. Once you understand why people share online videos, you can build your online rich content strategy around social sharing.
- Repurposing. The point of video is to generate interest in your topic, company or product among people who would not normally take the time to read something you've created as text. It is likely that you already have a ton of material that should be repurposed for video, so it is a great idea to turn this material into rich content so it will appeal to a wider audience. Material you've already written is already branded, and discusses your products the way they were meant to be discussed, so using it to create a video is an excellent way to manage your brand messaging.
Social media users love video, and your business, whether it is B2C or B2B, should be using it to grow and reach your audience. Video is dynamic, increases retention, favored by Google and other search engines, and makes it easy to manage keyword strategy. Now that social sharing is a major factor in driving SEO rankings, it will be a very good idea to repurpose content into video, describe and title it well, and use it to drive sharing on social networks.
If you want a clearinghouse of information on video for SEO, Lee Odden at TopRank has more to say about online video SEO tips, including tagging, cross-linking, and sharing. And if you're looking to go further into social video, ReelSEO has produced a handy guide for social media video marketing.