Video seo has great potential for driving traffic to your website. It seems everyone wants to watch a video rather than read. Well, almost everyone. Some people still prefer text, but there are fewer of them over time.
There’s one “person” though, that still needs text. That, of course, is Google (who isn’t a real person obviously, but sometimes it feels that way…).
You need to add certain elements to your webpage that tell Google what your video is about. This is especially true if you’re hosting it on your own website. While some services have a “built-in” way to do this (e.g. tags in YouTube), you’re on your own if you host it yourself.
But that’s a good thing. When a video is on your site, you get all the traffic and all the goodness that flows from it too. Here are three quick tricks you can use to improve the SEO on your videos when you host with a service like PlanetStream.
It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But using keywords – or better longtail keywords – in your title and description is necessary if you want to rank. Don’t overdo it though. Be sure you use natural phrases and don’t repeat keywords unnecessarily.
Not only does Google hate that, but your viewers will think it’s odd too. It will be obvious what you’re doing and it can reflect badly on your content. Google will outright ignore you.
There are many tools you can use to make sure you’re using the “right” keywords. But an easy way to start is to do a search and see what videos show up. Do this a few times with variations of your chosen keywords. This can give you an idea of the competition, and what Google is looking for in order to rank in your area. If you have access to more in-depth keyword research, use that too!
Use closed captions
Closed captions, or subtitles, appear on your video so those who are hearing impaired can still enjoy it. That’s a wonderful thing, but those same subtitles can help Google understand what your video is about too.
To add them to your video, you’ll need to include a subtitles file. How those subtitles are rendered depends on the player you’re using. Some give you more control over how they look than others. But that’s only if the viewer chooses to have subtitles on. Most users probably won’t, but the file will always be there for Google to search. And that’s the whole reason for doing it (at least for the purpose of this blog).
If you’ve used YouTube before, you may know that it generates closed captions automatically. But you may not realise those captions will not help in SEO, even on YouTube. Auto-generated subtitles are not terribly accurate. If you doubt that, just turn them on during a news broadcast or other live show. They can be really, really bad.
So you’ll want to use your own edited subtitles file. You can do that by watching your video and writing down the time and the words said manually. You can also pay for a transcription service that includes the timing of the words.
If you’re not up for either of those, but still want the SEO benefit there is one shortcut. Upload your video to YouTube, let it auto-create your closed captions, then edit them to be accurate. The result will be a subtitles file you can download and use with your own hosting (check your player for the proper format though). You can keep your video on YouTube if you want, or delete it so all the traffic will go to the version on your website only.
Post a transcript
If you chose to use closed captions, no one (besides Google) will ever see those words unless they turn that feature on in the player (or you have it on by default). But you can benefit in two ways by including a transcript on the page with the video.
First, Google still looks at all the text content on the page when doing its analysis. So a transcript tells it exactly what the video is about. And if you do use subtitles, the almost identical text on the page will reinforce the message. It isn’t counted as duplicate text because Google is smart enough to recognise text on a page versus a specifically formatted file associated with a video.
The second benefit isn’t SEO related. The transcript allows those viewers who don’t want to sit through a whole video to skim the content. They may get some benefit from that, decide to watch the whole video, or just a portion of the video. Whatever they do, you’ll get your content seen by those visitors who would otherwise not have seen it in the video.
If you don’t use closed captions, but still want to include a transcript there are quite a few ways to do it. You can use the YouTube hack above and just grab the text portion of the subtitles file. You can record it manually, or hire someone to do the transcription for you. There are many services available for reasonable fees. If your budget is tight, you can find basic transcription on fiverr.com. Just be sure to check out any vendor before making an order. I’ve had great luck there, but also some not great luck.
If you do all three of these tricks, you should find your Google ranking improved. You can also get further ideas here. Do you have any SEO tricks to share?