SEO for Video

SEO for Video, sounds technical and intimidating doesn’t it? It isn’t. Like most web related activities, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is about getting your web content seen by as many people as possible. The fun part is making sure that content is presented to the right people, relevantly.

Video SEO consists of 3 parts:

  • Indexation
  • Ranking
  • Click through optimization

Why Video?
Video touches most of our senses. Video helps establish an emotional connection. With the right execution, video can amuse, excite and inspire.

Not only can it make the audience understand and agree with your message, they could be led to believe strongly in it and be moved to action by it.   This is exactly the aim of marketing: to inform and move the customer to act in our favour.

Google search results for 'fluffy cats'Blended search, how Google displays its results (see example to the left), presents videos, images, news stories, maps, and other types of content results alongside standard search results.

Optimising video content to take advantage of blended search is by far the easiest way to get a high organic ranking on Google.   Why?  Well, there is a lot less video content out there than there are wordy pieces from blogs or news sites; there is less competition for space.

Getting your video indexed
There are several ways to tell Google you’ve got video on your site. The most well known and easiest is the XML Video Sitemap.

Just like a normal XML Sitemap, this sitemap contains URLs, and for each URL it contains a video section, outlining all the details about that video, from its location and / or player location to its keywords and a ‘poster’ image (.png).

You’ll also need to make sure that you have a robots.txt file on all video pages in the top-level directory of your web server. This ensures Google can verify that the locations on the Web you’ve submitted do in fact exist, and that they contain embed codes which indicate the presence of a video.

Once you’ve created an XML video sitemap, make sure you submit it to Google through Google’s Webmaster Tools. While you can submit it manually, you can also ping Google with the URL of the sitemap every time you’ve updated it. Pinging Google is very simple, just open the following URL (replacing the sitemap URL with your own, of course):

http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ping?sitemap=http://example.com/sitemap.xml

Within Google Webmaster Tools you can also check whether Google understands your sitemap, or if it’s missing any vital components.

Add MediaRSS tags to your RSS feed, and then submitting your RSS feed to Google as a sitemap.

MediaRSS is a standard conceived by Yahoo! which Google fully supports. It aids the discovery of all sorts of Rich Media, ranging from images to video.

Because it’s an add on to your RSS feed, this has one downside compared to XML video sitemaps: usually it’ll only contain your last few posts, while you might have hundreds of posts and pages containing video.

The upside? RSS feeds for lots of sites are indexed regularly, allowing for fast inclusion of your video in Google’s index.

When ranking videos, or any content for that matter, Google considers the match between search keywords and the (video) title. Meta-data such as description and keywords don’t have much influence on your search ranking. Google prefers the title tag of the page to match the title of the video, and will give a higher weighting for results where this is the case.

Like traditional SEO, you’re much more likely to see results with Video SEO if you target more specific, or longer tail, search terms.

A video titled “Recruitment” is unlikely to produce a first-page ranking, while a video titled “Hays: Recruitment in the 21st Century” will be more likely to score well in Google’s algorithm. Submit the same video multiple times with different titles that match potential search terms and consier using other bookmark engines or video hosts such as Vimeo.

In Video SEO (unlike trad SEO) even new sites and small sites can compete on equal footing with larger, established players. It is a less crowded space.

TRACK, track and track again – then optimise keywords

Other options

  • Share your video with LinkedIn using the LinkedIn API (perhaps using Slideshare)
  • Facebook share where appropriate
  • WordPress SEO plugin’s features automatically generate video sitemaps, which is handy if you have a wordpress site . . .
  • Consider YouTube over others (like Vimeo) – though picture quality may not be great, it offers great SEO (who owns YouTube?) and sharing . . . but do also use Vimeo and others, the more the merrier
  • Bookmark your videos, submit them to relevant directories, and upload them to multiple platforms

In summary:

  • Insert keywords into your video filenames.
  • Host your videos on YouTube, and embed those YouTube videos into your own site. Google says its algorithms consider how many times a video is viewed, and any views embedded videos receive on your own site get added to the ‘views’ tally on YouTube. (And yes, nearly every video I see Google blend into its results came from YouTube.)
  • Optimize your YouTube videos by writing keywords into your videos’ titles, descriptions, and tags.
  • Embed videos into relevant text pages on your site. The context provided by the text on those pages (which is hopefully already optimized for search as well) will help the search engines figure out what your videos are about.
  • Also create a video library on your site, so Google knows where to find your video content. (Google Video Sitemaps can help with this too.) Write keyword-rich annotations for each video in the library.

For more from the horse’s mouth, see –  http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/topic.py?topic=10079

Have fun!

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