Video Optimization: Do Not Underestimate The Power Of YouTube
Billions of video views take place on YouTube every day. Is your brand capturing any of this traffic? Columnist Jim Yu explains how to optimize your videos for maximum exposure.
Videos have risen to be an integral part of the online marketing mix; yet despite the increasingly widespread recognition of the power of videos, video optimization is not as commonly practiced as website and content optimization.
Taking the extra steps to make your videos easier to find and share will let you take advantage of all that YouTube and videos have to offer along the customer path to purchase.
What Ranking On YouTube Has To Offer
YouTube is often said to be the second largest search engine in the world after Google itself. Every day, people watch hundreds of millions of hours of video on YouTube, generating billions of views.
Having a strong YouTube presence can have an incredible impact on your brand reach and will give you the chance to engage with the millions of visitors of using the platform.
Videos take content to an entirely new level. Rather than just showing customers a static image of your products or explaining a complicated topic in writing, you can show the visitor exactly what they would like to know. This level of engagement helps to build the relationship between customer and brand, improving your reputation.
The video giant also can offer you direct SEO benefits in search engine results pages (SERPs). Google wants to show users the types of content that are most applicable for their query. That means some queries will have video thumbnails mixed in with text links within the SERP.
Google knows that for certain queries, there are many people who will find a video explanation easier to understand and more helpful than a standard article. This means a well-optimized video can be displayed prominently on Google, drawing in even more traffic and helping you to establish yourself as the go-to expert.
Once you get people to your video, you also have the opportunity to expand your communication with them. Encouraging people to click through to your brand’s YouTube page, or even to your company website, can turn your brand awareness into concrete site traffic (and ultimately, leads and conversions).
To accomplish these goals, however, you need to attract traffic to your video and get it in front of the right people. Video optimization is the key to achieving this.
Last year, BrightEdge looked at our data and considered all the video click data available in Universal Search results (including videos surfaced from a website and videos surfaced from YouTube). We found the click curve for video results mirrored that of classic (text) results — except the average CTR for Position 1 of a video was 7.9 percent, whereas the average CTR for a classic result was 20 percent.
Factors That Impact YouTube Rankings
Like Google, YouTube has its own internal algorithm that dictates the order in which videos display in the search results. Here are a few key factors that the algorithm uses when adjusting these rankings.
- Watch time. This might be described as the engagement metric, or the opposite of bounce rate for videos. YouTube wants to see how long your visitors stay to watch your content. This criterion is so critical that YouTube has an entire section dedicated to it on the Google Support page
- Keyword relevance.
- Your number of subscribers.
- Customer reactions, including comments, likes and dislikes.
- Video length.
To optimize your videos, you want to capitalize on these criteria. The following established techniques can help.
1. Provide The Right Types Of Content
To improve that critical factor of Watch Time, you have to make sure your content is actually worth watching.
Remember that YouTube users are not there specifically to learn about your brand — they want to see videos relevant to their search query. Videos that are overtly promotional or do not make much sense to people unfamiliar with your brand will not succeed on YouTube.
Instead, you should focus on two basic video types: emotional and educational.
- Emotional. The most effective videos are often those that elicit an emotional reaction, such as an inspirational video or a cute cat video. Viewers in this bucket consume video content as a form of self-expression, looking to view and/or share videos that resonate with them on a personal level.
- Educational. Another core group of video viewers will be those looking to learn something. Perhaps they’re installing new software on their computer and find the text instructions too overwhelming, so they want a video that will guide them through the process. Or perhaps you have a small business owner who’s interested in SEO but not sure where to start; he or she will need someone to explain, in plain English, how to make the most of their online presence.
Visitors on YouTube seek out videos according to their needs, so you want to create content that addresses these needs. It should provide value for your target audience and resonate with those who come across it.
Additionally, you want to make sure the video is not too long. Most of the top videos on YouTube are around three minutes long.
2. Make It Easy For Google & YouTube To Understand Your Video Content
YouTube and Google do not yet have the ability to actually watch and understand your video. This means that they are depending on you to provide them with the relevant information so they can make an informed decision about where to rank the video.
There are a few steps you should take to accomplish this.
- Create an optimized title. Your title should be a few words long and include the major keyword for which you want to your video to rank.
- Use tags wisely. Remember again that YouTube cares more about how long people spend watching your video than how many people watch it. Use ample, relevant keywords. Make sure they fit with your brand and that they will interest the people for whom the video was intended.
- Create a full description. Too many people include only a few sentences in their video description, but this can seriously impact your ability to include keywords and communicate with the algorithm. Do not be afraid to include several hundred words — almost the length of a short blog post. Articulate your key points from the video and make it easy for the spiders to see the value this video offers.Within this description, you want to make sure you use plenty of relevant keywords. This will help you optimize your video for both YouTube and Google. Remember that there are certain keywords that can even result in videos ranking on the first page of a general Google SERP. Identify relevant keywords and add them here.
- Consider using closed captions or uploading a transcript. Along the same lines as the full description, closed captions or a transcript makes it easier to articulate the value of your video. These features also make it easier for customers to use your information as they desire, such as watching the video on mute so as to not disturb coworkers.
It is also a good idea to develop your brand’s YouTube channel page. On this channel page, you can create a trailer that can help you demonstrate your value and why customers should subscribe to your page. A well-developed channel page with ample subscribers can also help establish your authority in the industry, which can help your rankings and make it easier for you to entice new viewers.
3. Create A Strong Call To Action
Once you have the visitor on your video, the last thing you want is for them to click away from your video and go see another video that has nothing to do with you or your brand. When someone watches your video, you have their attention. This is the perfect time to make your call to action (CTA) and encourage them to come and see what else you have to offer. YouTube annotations can be a great place for a CTA.
As you create your annotation, you want to make sure it is relevant and useful for the viewer. An annotation that distracts the user, or one that is perceived as serving only the creator, will largely be disregarded — and may detract from the reputation of the video. Keep them around the border of the video to make them unobtrusive. YouTube has some of their own best practices suggestions, as well.
4. Promote Your Video
Promoting your video is the final step in optimization. Once your video has been marked up to maximize its online exposure, it is now up to you to encourage viewers.
Embed the video on your blog and company website. Promote it through your various social media accounts, including your Google+ page. Encourage your followers to interact with the videos, by commenting on them or sharing them with others.
When more people comment and otherwise react to the video, it adds value for your video ranking.
Steps For Successful Video Optimization
- Develop video concepts based on customer value.
- Identify relevant target keywords, and use them to create a video title, tags and video description that communicate the video’s value.
- Embellish the video with a CTA and link.
- Promote the video throughout your own networks to begin accumulating views.
Video optimization can empower your brand to reach the millions of people who use YouTube (and other major video platforms) to find fun videos and answers to their questions. By marking up your videos, you can get them in front of the right people and see the branding power available on YouTube.