A Forrester study from way back in 2009 found that web pages containing videos were 50 times more likely to rank on the first page of Google than those without. This stat hasn't changed since then. That's because people really, really like to watch videos online.
In fact, YouTube has been the second most popular search engine – second to Google – since 2009.
YouTube is an easy-to-use and free way to get your video content up and out there. Choosing YouTube (or a similar video serving platform) over the option of hosting videos on your domain is one of the very first decisions you have to make about your video strategy.
For the most ranking power, hosting videos on your own domain is ideal. This way, search traffic will be directed straight to your site and not to YouTube. Read more about the pros and cons of both YouTube and hosting on your own domain to learn more.
Here's what else you need to know about to use videos to benefit your SEO strategy.
Use Video to Provide Value to Your Audience
The most important element of on- and off-page search engine optimization is having great content that provides value. This principle extends into any videos that you produce and post on your site. Google ranks content based on its quality – whether that content is an article, video, infographic or podcast.
Videos are a great way to answer the questions that people are typing into search engines. Tutorials and explainer videos have never been more popular, probably in part because search queries beginning with "how to" and "why" continue to trend upwards in volume.
For example, Vox Explains is a regularly produced series in which Vox breaks down one topic per video. Each video is short, easy to digest and informative. Past topics include the Ebola outbreak and the Hong Kong protests.
When thinking about video content it's important to ask, "What will the viewer take away from this?"
Tip: Keep videos under five minutes. While the popularity of online video is at an all-time high, attention spans are at an all-time low.
Transcribe Your Videos
An easy way to get your videos ranking higher in search results is to upload a transcript of the video's content. If YouTube is your platform of choice, you can do this two different ways. You can type text directly in YouTube by going to Video Manager and adding captions. You can also upload a plain text file of the transcript along with the video.
Alternately, you can also add the transcript directly into the HTML of the video's landing page on your site.
Transcripts provide many benefits. First, they're useful for people who want to consume the content without watching the video. They can also be used as the foundation of a blog post or article to nest the video in. Most importantly, transcripts provide the opportunity to use your target keywords.
Tip: When uploading transcripts to YouTube or entering them in HTML tags, don't deviate from what is said in the video, and don't try to sneak keywords into the text if they're not in the video.
Create A User-Friendly Experience
If you plan on creating lots of videos or producing a series, make it easy for users to find videos and browse through your collection. Group videos together to create a searchable video resource center on your site. Organize videos using categories and tags to make them easy to find.
It's also a best practice for each video within your collection to have its own unique landing page. This will make it easier for Google to index the content.
Tip: Video resource and landing pages should have your target keywords in titles and URLs. Also, try to fit keywords in file names too.