If you’re looking for a way to level up your search engine optimization (SEO), one of the best opportunities to do so is still fairly under-utilized by many businesses—it’s the power of video. Visual media tends to have a strong connection with website users in a way that text simply can’t, and images and video are some of the best ways to engage visitors on your website, draw their interest, and keep them on your site. While there are a great many benefits to photos (as well as diagrams and other forms of still visuals), videos have some particular benefits that make them an extremely powerful tool in your digital marketing toolbox.
A great deal of marketing has to do with psychology—how you get someone’s attention and then get them to take action—and there’s a simple psychological principle that explains why people find videos so appealing. Unlike text or even photos, videos engage multiple senses with sound, moving images, and the content they present. Furthermore, they have the ability to connect with viewers on an emotional level through the facial expressions and mannerisms of those featured in the video, the lighting and composition of shots, music, and other elements.
Yes, videos are complex, but that’s what makes them such a great tool. They allow you to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time and in an engaging way. When a visitor clicks on a video on your webpage, they’re likely to stay much longer than someone who just scrolls through the text to find the answer they’re looking for. And they appeal to viewers by engaging them on a higher level that gives you the opportunity to entertain and connect with them to build trust.
Create High-Quality Videos
The catch, of course, is that in order to use this tool effectively, you have to create high-quality videos. That doesn’t mean your videos have to be complicated. I’m willing to bet you’ve been highly engaged watching a single person talk to the camera on multiple occasions before. But even with simple talking-head style videos, there’s a level of professionalism you need to present, with decent video and audio quality. At the very least, you’ll need a clean background, a decent microphone, and a stable camera setup—which could be as simple as your iPhone. Furthermore, you need to feel comfortable in front of the camera. Many people who are inexperienced with video recording come across awkward on screen, so it may take some practice to present your topic well.
High-quality videos are necessary in order to engage viewers. After all, they have millions of other options that are only a click away, so if the quality of your video is low, they’re not likely to keep watching. If you’re not experienced in creating videos, I’d recommend hiring a professional to get you started. You may also need someone with strong video editing skills to put it together after you’ve filmed, as editing can make a big difference to the quality of the end product.
Use Video to Gain Backlinks
Beyond engaging your site visitors, keeping them on your webpage for longer, and helping convert leads, videos can be useful in driving your SEO strategy. They will be an excellent source for backlinks if you post on YouTube, Vimeo, and social media platforms. Add the URL to your website, preferably to a related webpage, in the description of each video. These sites are highly reputable, and each video counts as a separate backlink to your site, which will improve your SEO performance overall.
Unlike text, it’s okay to repost the same video to different sites. While Google’s algorithm penalizes duplicated content when it comes to text, video is treated differently. That means when you record a video, you can post it on your YouTube channel as well as on your social media account and on your website. However, I recommend uploading the video anew each time rather than embedding a YouTube link. This is especially important on your website.
Don’t Embed YouTube Videos
When posting a video on a webpage, it may seem like the easiest and most user-friendly option to embed a YouTube video rather than using a different hosting service on your site. However, embedded YouTube videos are much less effective for SEO, because the user may use the embedded video to click over to YouTube, leaving your site and getting distracted by their recommended videos. They may start catching up on their subscriptions and forget about ever visiting your site in the first place. After all the effort you’ve gone through to create a high-quality video for your site, that’s the last thing you want them to do. You want them to stay on your site until they convert into a paying customer or client. To keep users from leaving your website, I recommend using a video hosting service like Wistia, which allows you to embed videos in your website that open the video without taking the user from your site.
Apply Video Schema Markup
Google’s algorithm interacts differently with videos than it does with text or images. It’s not able to “read” a video in the same way, so it’s important for your technical SEO expert to apply what’s known as video schema markup. Essentially, this is code written into your webpage that tells Google information about your video, such as the title, description, thumbnail, and length of video. If you want your video to turn up in video search results on Google, this markup is necessary. It also improves your SEO because the algorithm understands that videos are valuable to users, and user experience is a priority for Google.
Create Great Thumbnails to Engage New Viewers
Whether you’re posting the video on your website, YouTube, or another form of social media (and I believe you should take advantage of all these options), if you want people to click on your video, you’ll need a compelling thumbnail. It cannot be simply a screenshot from the video itself. In many cases, your best option is to have a designer create one, someone who is experienced in thumbnail creation and understands what makes them compelling.
Make Your Videos User-Friendly
Videos may seem pretty user-friendly to start with, but there are a number of things you can do to improve the user experience. Have you ever been annoyed by the way a video was presented on a website and left rather than watching the whole thing? Things like no progress bar, the lack of a pause button, or videos auto-playing with a loud audio intro without warning are all enough to make some users click away from your site immediately. The go further, it’s also a good idea to have basic video controls, such as allowing the user to select video quality (to help with slower connections) and video speed. These features will likely be determined by the video hosting service you use, so it’s something to keep in mind when choosing one.
Beyond these simple functions, it’s extremely important to take into account usability for people with disabilities such as sight or hearing impairment. Always add captions to your videos, and it’s also a good idea to include a transcript that a site-reader can read aloud for those who have visual limitations. Including these things will improve your SEO as Google values websites that comply with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations.
As you begin to level up your SEO through videos, keep in mind the importance of creating high-quality content. Just like with text, the quality of your content is a major factor in how well your video and the webpage its associated with will perform. Then, by using the proper schema markup, creating strong thumbnails, and posting on multiple sites to improve your reach and gain more backlinks, you’ll draw in more traffic and convert that traffic into increased revenue for your business.