YouTube is perhaps the second largest search engine on the planet with 5 billion YouTube videos consumed daily. With this in mind, producing video content that ranks favourably should be treated with the same strategy as organically ranking articles on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). It’s all too easy to stick with what we know when we think optimisation, but considering the impact video has had on the modern era of content, video optimisation is now more important than ever. Here are some of our tips for optimising your videos.
Video Content that Works
If users perceive content to be valuable, they are more than likely to return to that page over a longer period of time. Having useful videos within a content piece can help increase user retention and time on page, eventually increasing organic page authority and organic rank. One way we ensure this is through our video-led Content Hubs, they provide specific content from institutions either domestically or internationally, informing prospective students on university features and experiences. Since their launch in February 2018, they have seen over 1.1 million visits and set to steadily increase month on month.
Kunal Lalchandani, Client Data Analyst at IDP Connect, explains on how content is able to resonate with students. He says: “Content Hubs are extremely popular with students, they offer the unique possibility of engaging with students from the very beginning of their academic journey all the way to enrolment at an institution. The Content Hubs use rich-content to guide students from their initial interest to choosing the perfect course for them.”
They stand out because we have a variety of rich content, the critical features of an institution are all highlighted in one place. The content provides clarity, interactivity and a personal level of customisation. That is why we’ve seen this kind of growth.”
Its clear video is a powerful engagement tool, it connects in an emotive way through visual and audible stimuli, it makes the user feel something rather than just inform them, words alone often don’t have the same effect and can lead users to only passively engage.
However, it’s important to note that just embedding video content onto a page wont directly improve organic rankings on Google’s SERP. This is according to Google’s own John Mueller who in a Google Webmaster Help thread said: “A YouTube video alone doesn’t make a page high-quality, but you can certainly use videos as a way of providing more information to a user.”
Creating a wide variety of consistent content is a tried and tested way to get picked up by Google and ranking for specific search terms. When you factor in that YouTube is a Google property, you can only reinforce organic visibility by spending as much time as possible optimising your video content and embedding that content onto your pages.
How to Rank for Video
Watch time is YouTube’s most regarded ranking factor. With approximately 20% of people who start a video leaving after the first 10 seconds, users are becoming harder to engage long-term. In short, YouTube loves videos that keep eyes on their platform and insist that videos with consistently high user retention show up more frequently in search results and suggested locations.
Charlotte Cripps, Video and Multimedia Manager at IDP Connect, talks about engagement in the video creation process. She says: “Going to university can be quite daunting and we want students to be able to place themselves in a situation, moving into halls for example, to help alleviate some of that pressure. Video is a great way to create an immersive experience so students can build up an idea of what to expect. Our videos are made to give an insight into university experiences. We try to create a different film for every institution, allowing for a unique and personal dialogue with the student and Content Hub.”
She adds “We use students in the videos so it remains student led and student first. It’s all based around how students feel and their experiences, that’s why its engaging because its relatable.”
YouTube fully understands what can make or break a video based on their algorithm, just like an audience can decide whether or not they like the content within seconds. It’s better to start off with something that immediately grabs attention, perhaps with powerful visuals or a compelling voice narration. The first 15 seconds appear to count the most, a flashy intro may look good but its important not to loose sight of what the video is about, ensuring the information remains clear to the audience watching. This is also a good reason to take advantage of the playlist functionality on YouTube, designing videos to be congruent with one another to keep eyes on your channel.
YouTube’s SEO process starts just like any other: with keyword research and implementation. The goal of any keyword research is to predict a user’s search and offer a solution that is relevant to your service. The thing to remember here is understanding user intent, in doing so you are able to appropriately label your video titles and descriptions based on search terms of a user or even better, pick up on a trending topic before it starts.
Keywords Everywhere is a chrome extension that breaks down useful keyword data such as monthly search volume and cost per click. This information is crucial when thinking about targeting these keywords in your content, as well as labelling video titles and descriptions with these targeted keywords to take advantage of user search terms. While video descriptions can be up to 5,000 characters, titles can only be up to 100 (including spaces) with anything over 70 being truncated and not fully readable. You should always ensure that both titles and descriptions are concise and relevant with the best practices for both hitting around the 50 and 300 words mark respectively.
Video tags are a great way of creating traction on your video with additional keywords, ensuring your tags precisely describe your video topic. Further to using tags is that they are easily tracked for engagement and performance purposes. Tubebuddy is a great chrome extension which allows for tracking on tags but also other metrics based around engagement and performance.
As mentioned, watch time is crucial to your video and channel’s success, the extension gives detailed breakdowns on video analytics including splits in watch time, bounce rates based on time watched and real time viewer monitoring. Using this information to our advantage can offer some powerful incentives to change video strategy or content direction based on the video’s performance. Additionally, tracking the number of views, comments, thumbs up and overall engagement, which all contribute to the YouTube ranking algorithm can’t hurt either.
The race to win video is still very much underway, it’s so crucial not to forget to optimise one of the biggest content platforms in the world when creating our own content, but more importantly to keep your fingers on the pulse when it comes to new and emerging platforms that may change the way we deal with content in the future.