B2B SEO Planning Guide: Part 4 - Video SEO Strategy Best Practices
In the latest installment of our B2B SEO Planning Guide, we are focusing on video SEO. This was one of the more challenging segments to write because of the vastness of video SEO. That said, the argument can be made (and is made in this article) that video SEO is one of the most important aspects of a successful B2B digital marketing program and will continue to increase in importance.
This article contains the following information:
- What is Video SEO?
- Why is Video Important?
- Video SEO vs Social Video
- Video Search Engines
- Video Player Considerations
- Video Opportunities in Google (6 Sub Sections)
- Video SEO Best Practices (9 Sub Sections)
This is really the tip of the iceberg in terms of what needs to be part of a successful Video SEO Marketing Strategy.
What Is Video SEO?
Video SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of optimizing all aspects of a particular video to maximize its potential to rank highly in search engines like Google, YouTube, and Bing for relevant keywords.
YouTube is often referred to as the second-largest search engine in the World, which is true. However, it should be noted that YouTube is also a social network and it has some unique engagement factors that play into its ranking algorithm.
Why Is Video SEO Important?
They say a picture is worth 1000 words. Video is worth a lot more. Video content gives you the ability to talk directly to your audience and from a sales perspective, especially a B2B sales perspective, that is invaluable. This dynamic coupled with an ever-increasing consumption trend for video content and expectation of video content creates a competitive landscape that not only requires video content for most brands but also creates a need for that video content to show up prominently in search results for high priority keywords.
From a B2B perspective, producing a consistent stream of expert, engaging and relatable content that speaks directly to the needs of your customers as well as the wider audience of people who are using the keywords that you are trying to target has never been more important than it is today.
Video SEO vs Social Video
This article is going to be primarily focused on video SEO strategies and tactics that lend themselves to ranking highly for specific keywords used in search engines. However, your broader video strategy needs to account for social algorithms as well. We will touch on some of those elements as we discuss YouTube, but there are a completely different set of rules as it relates to LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and others. Different content types, formats, and video lengths are all important considerations that need to be taken into account in creating a video production and promotion strategy for your business.
In many cases, social will be at least if not more important than SEO to your overall marketing strategy. Therefore, your video SEO strategy needs to work in harmony with your social video strategy and your planning needs to involve both teams (assuming your SEO and Social teams are not the same people).
Video Search Engines
Most people, when they think of video SEO are focused primarily on Google and YouTube. Optimizing your video content specific to Google best practices as a priority is probably the rule of thumb that will offer you the best opportunity for tangible results. Typically those tactics produce reasonable results in Bing as well. So, if resources are limited, you will do well to focus your efforts on Google.
Video Player Considerations
It is not necessary to use YouTube as your video player of choice in order to get high rankings on Google for relevant keywords. However, even if you aren't using the YouTube video player, it is wise to upload your video content to YouTube and develop a successful YouTube channel. Obviously, as the World's second-largest search engine YouTube is capable of delivering a lot of views and potential customers you would otherwise not get if you didn't have video content available on that platform.
These days, most consumers have an expectation that trustworthy brands have a professional YouTube channel with content that answers their basic questions about the products or services that your company offers. The absence of that content is a red flag for B2B purchasers who are evaluating your brand against other brands that do have that content.
It should also be noted that while Google maintains that using the YouTube player or having videos uploaded to YouTube versus a different platform doesn’t convey any extra advantage, a recent 2020 MOZ study would indicate that at the very least there is a high correlation between YouTube and placement in Google Video Carousels:
Video SEO Opportunities in Google
There are a number of opportunities in Google for videos to show up in search results. The most common are:
- Featured Snippet
- Video Carousel
- Video Thumbnail Next to Search Results
- Google Video
- Google Images
- Google Discover
The following are some examples of each one.
Getting a Featured Snippet placement in Google is the optimal position for your content to be ranked as it produces the most potential traffic. There are a number of types of featured snippets that Google can display. SEMRush has a good list of the potential snippets available:
A Video Carousel bundles keyword or topic-relevant videos in Google search results.
Note the reference to various “Key Moments” within each video. Key moments refer to topic areas within the video that are defined by creators who provide the timestamp information for these moments in the video description. However, Google may also infer these moments without the information being specified. You are encouraged though to define these moments explicitly in your Youtube description so as to have control over how Google segments your video content.
Also note, Video Carousel listings vary across desktop and mobile and may not be congruent.
Evaluating your opportunities across both desktop and mobile is a critical step when trying to understand the potential impact of creating video content. Especially when trying to prioritize topics. Regardless, your Video SEO strategy should include defining key moments in your Meta description and should have a goal of maximizing your visibility in Video Carousels for relevant keywords where those opportunities exist.
Video Thumbnail Next To Search Results
Another goal of video SEO is to maximize the number of video thumbnail listings that appear in search results for pages that rank for relevant keywords. This can happen in one of three ways.
- Your YouTube video page ranks in search results.
- The page on your Website that has the embedded video is listed with the video thumbnail.
- The video thumbnail appears next to a different third-party site where you have uploaded the video.
The second case is usually desired as the traffic is sent directly to your site. Additionally, there are instances where videos posted to other social platforms or third-party sites can rank in Search Results.
However, most video placements in search results are specific to video carousels as opposed to individual search results. The overwhelming majority of search results I have observed with video thumbnails have been specific to YouTube or other social platforms.
Google has its own ranking engine that is specific to video under the video tab:
Note that the top results for “ERP software” include a YouTube video but three of the four top placements are owned by other Websites. The Google video ranking algorithm is different from the YouTube algorithm because it accounts for all videos. This means metrics like time watched, which is hugely important in the YouTube algorithm, have very limited if any effect on Google video rankings because Google doesn’t have that information for much of the video content it indexes.
Schema markup is an important tool to send Google information about your video but it is not a requirement for ranking in Google Video.
Even though video schema is not a requirement for video rankings it is highly recommended to exert the most control possible to communicate to Google what your video is about. The rule of thumb in SEO is always to control what you can versus letting Google’s algorithm figure it out.
With that in mind, part of the video schema requirement is a thumbnail image for the video. A compelling thumbnail will result in higher click-through rates. Additionally, thumbnail images can show up in Google images, driving additional traffic to your video content and the webpage it is embedded on.
In many cases, Google is able to understand what an image is or read the test in an image. Therefore, creating the most relevant image possible to the content that it represents and the keywords that pertain to the content is very important and highly recommended.
Google Discover is a relatively new Google content discovery tool that pushes content to you based on your interests. You can see your Google Discover performance in Google Search Console. Start by clicking on the Discover navigation link in the left-hand menu:
You will then be able to see what your performance looks like. Google Discover is increasingly becoming an important channel to pay attention to for your overall digital marketing strategy:
Ranking in Google Discover is less straightforward than traditional search results because Google Discover results are customized for each individual user based on their search history, browser, location, and activity.
The Google Discover Help Document states that the two best ways to boost the ranking and performance of your Discover content are:
- Post content that you think users would find interesting
- Use high-quality images in your content.
Consistently producing high-quality content that aligns with the interests of your target audience and featuring that content on AMP pages or as Web stories seems to correlate to success. This is also true of video content.
Video SEO Strategy Is Often Complex, But Worth The Effort
According to a YouTube SEO Study from SEMRush, the average number of views for a YouTube video sitting in the second position is 74% less than the average number of views for a video in the first spot.
As you will see in the next article, video SEO can actually be even more complicated when considering the YouTube algorithm and how to scale activities to maximize potential results in both YouTube and search engines like Google and Bing. This is due to the fact that YouTube has additional social and engagement metrics that need to be accounted for. So, check out next week’s blog as we dive into optimizing at the individual video level.