How do videos help your SEO strategy?


Everyone is talking about creating and marketing videos these days. The marketing benefits are clear: Videos spread well, generate engagements on social media and are able to still attract attention in our world of information overload.

But can videos also enhance your SEO strategy? 

Well, we don’t know everything about Google’s ranking signals, so we cannot be sure if there’s a direct factor there. Whether Google “likes” pages with videos on them more than pages without videos remains a secret.

But there are more indirect SEO benefits that are contributing here:

1. SERP real estate

Videos are taking a lot of real estate within Google’s search result pages, both on mobile and desktop. Google uses so-called “video carousels” to display related videos for many search queries.

In fact, on a mobile device, a video carousel takes the whole screen, and for many search queries it takes quite some time to scroll past:

videos rank better in SERPsImage source: Screenshot by the author

According to Mozcast, video carousels appear for the third of search queries. That’s a lot of SEO opportunities to dominate your target SERPs!

If you brand your video well and optimize your video Youtube page, one of these videos in a carousel will remind your target customer of your brand and increase your chances of conversion.

2. Rich snippets

A video-rich snippet is an enhanced search snippet that displays a video thumbnail next to your link. It is a good way to make your search snippet stand out.

video rich snippetsImage source: Screenshot by the author

Video rich snippets are also surprisingly easy to get.

Unlike video carousels, video rich snippets send traffic to your site, versus the YouTube video page. To make this easier:

Video rich snippet Video Carousel
Does it need a video? Yes Yes
Is it part of organic results? Yes No
What does it generate? Clicks to your site Video views
(clicks to the video page)

The best-case scenario is when you manage to grab both: A rich video snippet on page one of organic results and your video inside the video carousel on the same page:


Image source: Screenshot by the author

This will help you generate more brand awareness through a video thumbnail and generate both video views and clicks.

To increase your odds of getting a video rich snippet, you need to:

  • Embed a video on your page. This doesn’t really have to be your video but mind that Google will display the channel name below your snippet om desktop, so it makes sense to use your brand’s channel
  • Use video schema. Here’s a handy video schema generator for you to do that. There are also quite a few plugins that make this step easier.

video schemaImage source: Screenshot by the author

For desktop video rich snippets, mind that they also pull the date when you uploaded the video, so make sure your video is fresh to avoid your snippet looking outdated.

When embedding a video on your page, don’t forget to double-check your page load time. Surprisingly, Youtube videos do negatively impact page performance when you embed them, even though Youtube belongs to Google (so publishers usually assume it is optimized for Google by default).

To demonstrate the impact, here’s my page score without a YouTube video embedded on it:

page score with and without YouTube video embedImage source: Screenshot by the author

And here’s the same page with a Youtube video added:


Image source: Screenshot by the author

You can cope with this by using the trick described here which worked wonders in my case above. 

One of the unexpected benefits of using that method was the related videos Youtube shows at the end of each video when you embed it. Using the steps in that tutorial, I found those related videos disappear and my own video showing up instead.

Finally, don’t forget to use Google’s Search Console to find out how your video rich snippets are behaving.

In your “Performance” section, create a new filter “Search Appearance: Videos” to see which queries are triggering rich snippets for your site and monitor your CTR for those queries.

3. On-page engagement

There’s no official confirmation that Google uses on-page engagement as a direct ranking signal. In fact, I believe they denied using such a signal.

And yet, getting people to take a pause and do something on a page has a lot of marketing benefits that are normally part of an SEO strategy. These include:

  • Higher chances of a conversion
  • Lower chances of them bouncing or returning to search results (which, again, may or may not be a direct ranking signal)

Videos make great on-page engagement boosters, so if you feel like your page is failing to trigger some sort of action, try embedding a video on it. Again, mind your core web vitals when you do.

4. Referral traffic

Just like on-page engagements, referral traffic has never been confirmed to be a direct SEO signal. We know that Google likes when a link is clicked but we don’t know whether a page with 0 referral traffic from external sources  has lower authority in Google’s eyes than a page with high-quality referral traffic.

And yet, referral traffic increases a page’s chances to get backlinks and shares. And well-converting traffic is always good, whether it is coming from organic search or another site.

Youtube doesn’t make it easy to build referral traffic from your videos. You can have your clickable link in the video description which is rarely read or even seen (especially on mobile).

You can also link build direct traffic using Youtube by giving your domain name in the video intro and outro. Here’s how to create an engaging Youtube outro.

But then again, one should really find your video relevant and/or awesome to type your domain name in the address bar after seeing it in the outro.

That being said, Youtube does send traffic to a site but only if you are doing a great job creating outstanding videos and then using verbal CTAs inside the video to encourage clicks from the video description or direct type-ins.

A great thing about Youtube traffic is that, while it is hard to get, it’s highly relevant, so you will see highly engaged clicks that become your subscribers and customers:

Image source: Screenshot by the author

Conclusion

Using videos is a solid way to help your SEO strategy. While there may be no confirmed direct signals involved here, there are a few indirect SEO benefits of investing into video creation and marketing.


www.searchenginewatch.com

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