SEO for Video with Rob Adams
For years, I’ve been trying to stay on top. On top of business, on top of serving my customers, on top of my creative growth, on top of the quality of my work and on top of the Google search rankings. The latter has proven to be probably the most difficult. For a creative-minded person such as myself, understanding SEO rankings and keyword tagging has been one of the dimmer moments in my professional career. When you consider the art of photography and filmmaking, little changes in the way of fundamentals. You can spend years mastering your craft and know that if you apply one proven technique to create a desired result and repeat that technique, you will achieve a similar if not an almost exact result. The same can most definitely not be said for understanding and executing effective SEO practices. Google, at the time of writing this article, owns what can be considered a monopoly on SEO search engine rankings and the ability to be prominently seen in an internet search. What’s more is that every few months or so the algorithm that determines which pages, content and keywords get ranked higher in search results seems to shift. The methods that once worked to gain higher visibility in search become less effective. This requires a retooling or updating of internet SEO implementation more often than a business owner or marketing person would like to admit.
So, two questions are at the front of my mind at all times when trying to ensure my business gets seen in a search engine return:
- What SEO practices can I implement to ensure my business or body of work gets seen now, in this moment? And…
- What can I do to ensure my content continues to be seen in perpetuity in the future?
SEO sort of works like the scrolling of a social media feed. What is relevant and fresh now gets seen and what is no longer relevant will only get seen if it has continued engagement, meaning that people are actively searching out the content and reacting to it over time.
Consider a video. Say I post a video online on my webpage. The video is all about apple growing. I apply no image tags or keyword tags to the video nor do I write any description for the video. I title it “All About Growing Apples.” The odds of this video getting ranked high in a Google search are slim to none. Why? Because there is nothing for Google to grab when queried to go out and find videos or information about growing apples. My website is likely not professionally optimized to be found in a Google search about growing apples. The content on my website is probably only seen when someone directly searches the name of my business or the address of my URL, so the chances of my video being seen are very small.
Now, let’s take that same video and upload it to YouTube. YouTube is owned by Google and is the second most powerful internet search engine in existence. Google has made YouTube the de facto video search tool on the internet and its power to categorize and serve up video content is second-to-none. By placing the video on YouTube—even without utilizing keyword tags or a well-written, optimized title and description—the video is much more likely to rank higher in general internet searches for “apple growing” and is far more likely to be seen in video-specific searches about apple growing.
But as powerful as a simple placement on YouTube is, the only way to truly maximize your potential to have your content or business seen in higher-ranking search results is to use keyword tags and other keyword techniques to get the attention of Google’s search algorithm. Let’s talk about each one individually and the reasons why they are so powerful at the current time.
Almost every video- or photo-hosting service on the internet these days allows the ability to assign keyword tags to your content. But not just any old words will do. Google and other search engines are going to match not only the content of what you say your video or photo is about, but also the most relevant or most searched keywords about your content. For example, keywordingmy video with the words “apples” and “growing” are likely far too vague for my video to appear in a specific search about apple growing because there are likely thousands, if not millions of other items on the internet about this broad topic. But what if I keyword tag my video with these keywords: apples/growing/farming/howto/growapples/growingapples/applefarming/applefarmingtutorials/applegrowingmethods/growing/methods/appleseeds/howtogrowapples/growingapplesinnewjersey/newjerseyapples/NJapples
These are far more specific search terms and are likely to get grabbed by Google’s algorithm when someone is searching for something like “growing apples in NJ.” So, you want to make sure that your keyword tags span a wide range of possible search criteria. You want to be very specific about who you want to see your video and break those criteria down into both compound and singular keyword tags.
One thing you can do to help choose the right keywords for your content is to search for other videos on the same topic as your video. If your video is about growing apples in New Jersey, search for other similar videos on YouTube or Google and use a browser extension like VidIQ to show you which tags are used in the most popular videos. Then you can emulate those tags for your content. Now, chances are your video won’t get ranked as high straight out of the shoot, even if you copied the exact keyword tags as a highly-viewed video. This is because the highly-viewed video has been seen so many times that the volume of views helps it to rank higher in search engine results.
But, if you have content that is fresh, such as a gear video about a brand new piece of camera equipment, and you can get your video out early and assign the most relevant tags, you’ll likely be out in the forefront of internet searches about that piece of gear. If your view count is high enough and your total minutes of watch time is high as calculated by YouTube, you’ll likely remain highly ranked whenever someone searches for that topic. Your best bet is to try and tailor your content to a niche audience and have the content be dynamic enough that people stick around to watch once they’ve found it.
You will want to utilize every opportunity to keyword tag your content. Use image tags, keyword tag fields and keyword location tags when available.
Title and Description
Your video’s title and short description about the content of your image or video are just as important, if not more important than your keyword tags because they serve as your headline. When you browse the news, what grabs your attention? The headline. Nine times out of 10 the headline is what makes you decide straight away whether you are going to click on and read a news story. Same thing for when Google is searching for specific content. Your headline must be optimized to make Google want to grab it. Good titles often have direct but unique language with keyword tags in them. Think in terms of clickbait articles. They always seem to have headlines that make it hard to resist clicking on them. A video titled “Apple Growing in NJ” is far less appealing than a video titled “5 Mistakes Farmers Make Growing Apples in New Jersey.”
The possibilities here are endless. You have to learn to write effective, attention-grabbing headlines while keeping the keywords relevant to the actual content of the video. The description of your video also serves this purpose. It gives the search engine the validation it needs when it sees a title that may be relevant to the search. The description can be short, but the more keywords included, the better. It’s also important to include the exact verbiage used in your title at the top of your description. Keeping your main keyword as close to the beginning as possible helps to validate the content and improves SEO.
Getting your content to rank higher in search results is also affected by how many other places the content is referenced on the internet. If lots of other websites, blogs and articles link back to your video, this can really help to validate your content and drive more traffic to your video, hence increasing Google’s chances of seeing it and using the keyword tags to make a relevant search match. If you have a video you want people to see, get it out there. It’s advertising your business. A video about “growing apples” should be on farmers’ blogs, in Reddit forums, on Facebook and Instagram, and on other websites about growing apples. Spreading the seed of your content increases visibility, which increases interaction, which increases engagement, which increases the chances of that video ranking higher. As a wedding professional, I try to get my content everywhere, including Vimeo, WeddingWire, TheKnot, LoveStories.tv, various wedding and wedding video related blogs, and featured in articles about wedding videos, etc.
Live Premieres and Live Video Promotion
One often-overlooked element of SEO enhancement is live video. Live video is all the rage right now. If you’re not leveraging it, you’re missing out. It doesn’t have to be a full-scale, fancy live production. Something as simple as premiering your video in real-time in a Facebook watch party or utilizing YouTube’s premiere live feature gets great engagement, even among small followings. Since today’s search engines are optimized to favor live content higher up in social media feeds, this can only mean higher placement of live content. Use live video to drive viewers to your content by premiering the video and having people comment on it, or just talk about the making of it or explain to people that you’ve created a resource that they can now search about a topic. These methods create backlinks to your video, which stimulates traffic. It’s also not just YouTube that’s leading the charge on video engagement. Facebook and TikTok are becoming massive video search engines in the sense that content on these social platforms gets much more return engagement. If content does well and garners good engagement upon its release, it can go viral quickly and continue to appear in feeds for some time. Use Facebook, Instagram and TikTok profiles to create another backlink to your static video somewhere else. The power of social media to drive views to your YouTube videos is impressive.
Overall, you must employ a multitude of these techniques to build SEO. You also want to make sure that if you are privately hosting your videos on your own site as opposed to using a YouTube embed code to place the video on your webpage, that your website itself is optimized for SEO. There are many services that exist to help with SEO optimization, but ideally, you will want to mirror all of your content on multiple platforms to become highly visible.