Why is video important for SEO?
During the past ten years, video has become a critical component of contemporary digital and online communication, and many business have recognised this. Arguably, a large majority of brands have included video into their marketing strategy, for various reasons. Video is extremely popular because it’s incredibly easy to consume – it’s entertaining, it’s possible to absorb a lot of information in a short space of time, and it’s memorable, all of which make it an infinitely useful marketing tool. In fact, around 50% of consumers say watching videos helps them in making informed and confident purchasing decisions. So it’s only natural that they’ve become so ubiquitous in the world of advertising. But beyond their popularity and utility in generating leads and sales, video also helps improve a website’s SEO and, consequently, the ranking of the associated website.
Before we dive into how video improves SEO, let’s unpack what SEO is. In essence, SEO is the practice of enriching your web content (this is the ‘optimising’ part of ‘search engine optimisation’) in such a way that search engines are more likely to list your web page on a results page when a user performs a search query that is related to your web page’s content. Usually this takes the form of including key phrases in your text, structuring your web page using strategically placed headings and subheadings, making use of coding tags, tactfully designing your web pages’ URLs, and so on and so forth. SEO is a crucial component of any business’s digital or online marketing strategy But few people know that including video as part of your web page content is another way to enhance your SEO such that your web page appears on search engine results pages without having to be paid for. Let’s have a look at why that is:
YouTube is linked to Google
When you think of watching videos online, you most probably think of watching videos on YouTube. Although most people don’t know it, YouTube is actually a search engine, which makes sense when you think about it – if you enter a few keywords or phrases into the search bar, YouTube performs the same content scouring that a search engine like Bing or Google would do, in order to provide you with the content it thinks is most relevant to your search query. And a lot of people use YouTube – some statistics indicate that YouTube receives over 1 billion unique users each month: that means that 1 billion people visit the site each month, not that the site is visited a billion times – that’s a lot of people. Further, more than 6 billion hours of video content are viewed on YouTube each month, and there are millions of subscriptions to channels on YouTube each day.
So any brand worth their salt knows that they need to have a YouTube channel through which they advertise, communicate and engage with consumers. And in November of 2006, Google purchased YouTube, making it one of its subsidiaries. This means that if your video is listed on YouTube (and ranks highly there), it’s likely to be listed on a Google SERP (search engine results page). Another SEO-related benefit of listing your video on YouTube is that it automatically transcribes spoken audio into text – this means that if you optimise the diction in your script the way you would in a blog written for SEO purposes, your video will be ranked higher like a blog or other written content because YouTube takes that into consideration when ranking its listings, too. Adding keywords and phrases in the title and caption of your video will have the same effect as optimising your video’s script for SEO, too.
Google likes to display video
A search engine’s role is to give users results which it thinks are relevant to the user’s query. While this does depend on keywords, one must remember that keywords often reflect intent. Intent is what a search engine tries to determine and respond accordingly. The people behind Google’s algorithms (most notably ‘Hummingbird’, which is an algorithm programmed to respond to user intent) know that people like watching videos, and the algorithm has (probably) been programmed to react appropriately, especially when queries include the phrase ‘how to’. If your video contains a relevant, useful and valuable answer (or multiple) to a potential search query, it’s likely that it will appear on an SERP (obviously subject to a number of other factors – check out our article on the importance of SEO for businesses for more information on this topic). In fact, over 60% of search query results pages include at least one video, so this is probably the most straightforward reason why having a video will improve your SEO.
Low bounce rates and long dwell times
Before we get into how these factors impact SEO ranking, let’s unpack them first. Bounce rates refer to the rate at which users leave a web page. Bounce rates are related to how interested a user is in the page – if they don’t find what they’re looking for in a matter of seconds, they’re likely to leave the web page and return to the SERP to find a different result. Research has shown that bounce rates tend to be lower if the web page contains a video, as opposed to lengthy paragraphs of text, for example (this is where the entertainment value of videos is useful).
Studies have also suggested that users spend over 2.5x the amount of time on a web page that has a video, compared to a web page that does not – this is what is referred to as the ‘dwell time’. These two factors are important because Google takes them into consideration when calculating the value of a web page’s video, as well as the web page’s credibility and trustworthiness. So, Google perceives web pages with a low bounce rate and a high dwell time to be credible and trustworthy and is therefore likely to give the web page a higher rank – and video is a great way to get that low bounce rate and high dwell time.
Higher click-through rates
‘Click-through rate’ refers to the rate at which people see a result (its impression) and click on it. It’s been found that people tend to click on results that take them to web pages which contain videos, and the more clicks a result gets, the more likely Google is to think that it’s valuable. And the more valuable Google perceives a result to be, the higher it is likely to be ranked. By letting both search engines and users know that your result has a video through formats such as ‘rich snippets’ (a kind of structured data mark-up that programmers or web developers can add to their existing HTML code, which then allows search engines to understand that the web page has a video), your result is a lot more likely to receive clicks.
Increased number of backlinks
A ‘backlink’ refers to a link for a web resource or web page that exists on a different web page or source (similar to an inbound link in SEO). It’s comparable to a citation or reference, For example, your web page might be www.example.com, and the backlink would be you’re a link to your page sitting on www.sample.com. If your video is entertaining, useful, valuable, or all of the above, people are likely to share a link to it on other web sources, like their personal social media profiles. And the more a video is circulated (especially if it goes viral), the more backlinks it has. And search engines love backlinks and inbound links when indexing and ranking web pages and content because they make a web page or piece of content seem valuable. And, after all, valuable information is what search engines are programmed to deliver to users. And even if people don’t click-through to your website on one of these backlinks, the mere existence of the backlink (and video) sitting outside of its webpage means that you’ll still generate brand awareness, especially if your brand is in the thumbnail or first frame of the video.
Google My Business likes rich media
In one of our other articles, we wrote why you absolutely should be listing your business on Google My Business. But apart from all those reasons, listing your business on Google My Business can help improve your SEO – especially if you include video. Google My Business rankings work in a similar way to regular Google search results and by having a video on your Google My Business listing, you make it far more appealing, and people searching for the products or services your business provides will be far more likely to click on your result.
Now that you know how video optimises your SEO, are you ready to take the plunge? Consider outsourcing the job to an agency specialising in digital/online marketing and video and animation – it’s worth their time, and your money!