Ask an Expert: Video

Video camera

For our occasional Ask An Expert series, we’re on to video.

As JKC’s resident camera-haver, I thought it’d be useful to sit down and ask myself the important questions about video and its place in marketing — particular with SEO. Luckily, I remembered to transcribe it all, otherwise this would be quite a short blog.

So, what’s the deal with video?

By now you’ve probably seen that viral clip of a train driving at the camera and asked yourself how you can get that same sort of hype and excitement for your brand. You’re not alone.

Sandvine’s recent study shows that video is now making up 65% of internet traffic. While obviously a big chunk of that will be the likes of Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, and people inexplicably still Rickrolling in this day and age, there remains vast seas of video content where people might potentially see you and your products/services/dog.

Wyzowl’s report has a good overview of the stats around the current state of video marketing. Some key takeaways:

  • 91% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service.
  • 90% of marketers say video marketing has given them a good ROI
  • 88% of video marketers say video has helped them increase user understanding of their product or service.
What sort of video content should people be making?

There’s not really a neat and simple answer to that. It depends what you’re wanting to achieve, who your audience is, and where they tend to spend their time directing their eyeballs.

Short form content (<60 seconds) is doing increasingly well, but that’s not for everyone and might not be the best thing for your message. And you can’t just use the same thing everywhere.

Ask yourself what you want people to take away from it. What do you want them to do?

Then draw up a plan (or talk to your marketing agency — hello!) and tailor your content accordingly.

Whether it’s educational how-tos, engaging product showcases, or heartfelt testimonials, create content that clicks with your audience and fits your brand vibe.

But how does video help you get discovered?

We had years of people approaching SEO from a text-first perspective. First an epidemic of shoving as many keywords as possible into a piece, then moving from one best practice guide to another to another to another, in a desperate effort to “refine” content until all the personality and readability has been sanded off. (As a sidenote, always remember to write for humans first, they’re still the ones who make the purchasing decisions…).

But it’s not just the words that get you that oh-so-elusive search engine visibility. Video can play an important role in your strategy.

Text and the discoverability of useful information* did rather take a hit during the Big Garbage Content Event of 2023 (sponsored by ChatGPT).

Image search has become a thankless quest to find a real, useful, usable picture among the roiling churn of the AI Art Ocean that makes Scylla and Charybdis seem like increasingly preferable options.

But AI video’s not quite yet in a place where it’s completely diluting the moving-picture market with sludge. That day’s a-coming, and we’ll all be worse off for it, but it’s thankfully remaining on the horizon for now, ominous black sails billowing in the fetid wind.

So video SEO’s an area that still has a chance to get you decent traction for a good while before everything shifts again and we all have to learn new skills to keep The Algorithm happy.


*An underrated Smashing Pumpkins album

How does video content impact search engine rankings?

First of all, it depends on the search engines you’re looking at. Google’s a given. It’s what everyone’s after. It’s the big fish (or potentially a white whale).

But even though you might not think of it that way, YouTube is essentially a search engine in its own right.

Because YouTube isn’t just a search engine; it’s THE search engine for videos. For many people it’s their first port of call to find answers, entertainment, and sometimes just to kill time. So, if you want to get in front of your audience, you’ve got to be where the action is. It’s a platform where content lives and dies on engagement. Prompt viewers to like, comment, subscribe, or visit your website for more information. Passive views only do so much.

Providing transcripts or captions for your videos can also improve accessibility and make your content more crawlable by search engine bots.

When it comes to Google, video content can have a significant impact on search engine rankings. Google tends to prioritise diverse content types, and videos often stand out in search results. This means that having video content related to your target keywords can improve your chances of appearing higher in search results.

One of the big factors that search engines take into account is the time users spend on a page. And they’re often more likely to watch a video than read a wall of text, even if they would have taken a similar time to get through.

There’s obviously a drop-off point though, and videos that are too long without adequate justification will see people dropping off like lemmings in a Disney nature documentary.

Remember that video on your site shouldn’t just be a standalone entity, it’s part of the overall content strategy, and you have to be conscious of the context people are seeing it. A video in a blank void will only do so much. What else is on the page, does it work to support the other points? Does the page help to support the video?

Furthermore, video content has the potential to generate more backlinks and social shares compared to other forms of content. When users find your videos informative, entertaining, or valuable, they’re more likely to share them on social media or link to them from their own websites. These backlinks and social signals contribute to your website’s authority and credibility, which can positively impact your search engine rankings.

What are the best practices for optimising video content for search engines?

Best practices for optimising video content include:

  • Using descriptive titles and tags. Research the sort of titles that do well in your niche and for your sort of content. There’s no magic formula
  • Providing detailed descriptions
  • Time stamps
  • Properly chosen thumbnail
  • Subtitles (as .srt files or similar, not just baked into the video)
  • Embedding videos in relevant web pages
  • Additionally, ensuring videos are mobile-friendly and accessible can help.
What role do video thumbnails play in search visibility?

That’s a good question, Dave. Unlike books, you should absolutely expect to get judged by the cover for your video.

While they don’t have a direct impact from their mere existence alone, the fact that a good thumbnail will make people more directly to watch it, and that’ll increase its chances of being recommended to others.

What are the potential SEO benefits of hosting videos on different platforms (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo, website hosting)?

Well, hosting on different platforms can provide video SEO benefits such as increased visibility in search engine results pages, improved brand exposure, and diversifying your traffic sources. Each platform offers unique opportunities for reaching and engaging with target audiences, contributing to your overall SEO strategy.

Self-hosting gives you greater control over how users will see it and mean you won’t have ads running before or during the video. It does come with the trade-off of using more of your bandwidth and not being in the ecosystem of the bigger video-sharing sites.

Hosting on YouTube can help with discoverability as it’s a pretty popular platform (you may have heard of it), especially if you’ve set up your YouTube SEO properly. And when they’re on your video there are a few opportunities to point them towards more of your content.

The wider you cast your net, the more fish you catch. By distributing your videos across multiple platforms like Vimeo, Facebook, or Instagram, you’re increasing your chances of reaching a broader audience. Each platform has its own unique audience demographics and engagement mechanisms, allowing you to connect with users in different ways.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer additional opportunities for video discovery and engagement. With autoplay features and native video support, they make it easy for users to stumble upon your content while scrolling. Plus, social sharing and engagement can further amplify your video’s reach and impact.

By distributing your videos across platforms, you’re not only expanding your reach but also strengthening your online presence. This multi-channel approach not only enhances your SEO but also maximises your opportunities for audience engagement.

What’s the main thing you’d want to tell people about video?

Video’s really effective, but don’t just do video for the sake of doing video. Quantity without quality just won’t cut it. And not every video platform is right for you, so don’t go chasing waterfalls customers on platforms where they don’t live.

And have an actual plan for your videos. Then make a better one when you remember the reality of your budget. Then make sure people actually see it.

Thanks for your time today, Dave

That’s alright, Dave

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