Video SEO: PlanetStream guide and best practices
Posted on 27/05/2009
As the world of online video has grown it has become a necessity for business, an expectation for visitors and a challenge to website promoters. The question is raised – how can you and your business utilise the power of online video to drive organic traffic to your site? The answer, Video Search Engine Optimisation (Video SEO / vSEO).
Video SEO at its core is about the discoverability of your video content through search engines such as Google Video (or any of the other 1000’s of video search engines out there). The ultimate goal is to get your video content to the top of the relevant search engine rankings – within the standard search results page and video search results page. This guide attempts to cover both areas, and it should also be noted that while Video SEO is still in its infancy what actually works and what doesn’t work is still being developed.
Each of the items discussed are tailored for video, and just as with standard SEO, Video SEO is all about driving organic traffic to your site – each of the below methods focus on these core elements…
As with standard SEO it is important to have relevant and keyword rich text surrounding the video content in order to highlight the subject. The content should be descriptive of what the video contains – it is crucial to understand that this content should be written for the visitor and not for search engines. Outside of the pure text the page should also link to content that is relevant to the video such as photos, audio and news – this not only helps with your Video SEO strategy but enriches the user experience.
Inbound and internal linking are fundamental to SEO and how search engines determine relevancy and rankings. The best way to get good relevant links is to have good content – having good content will always launch a link building campaign as people will always want to share / post / link to content they find interesting. For the purpose of this guide Video SEO linking can be broken into inbound, internal and anchor text…
– Inbound links: There are many ways to get inbound links when it comes to Video SEO, too many to go into in this brief guide. However the most immediate and beneficial way for getting inbound links (outside of the content itself) is to allow visitors to embed your videos into their websites, blogs, profiles and social networks. Giving the option to embed videos allows anyone to copy a few lines of code into their chosen environment. The real benefit, beyond branding and traffic, is that you can provide a HTML wrapper which enables you to utilise SEO optimised anchor text, linking back to your website.
– Internal links: This is the navigation within your website. Even though internal links are not as valuable when it comes to rankings they still have their part to play – they help determine relevancy and they help search engine spiders crawl / find your content. Spiderable links like video playlists, related links and breadcrumbs not only help search engines build a good picture of your websites infrastructure but can aid your visitors with content discovery.
– Anchor Text: Simply put, anchor text is the clickable part of a link and search engines use this to help determine the relevancy of a website. Regardless of where the link is coming from, the anchor text helps search engines determine what the link contains (more relevancy). Ideally all inbound links will have optimised anchor text related to the content on the page it is linking to.
The promotion tool many websites overlook is the phenomenon of social media. Allowing visitors to share, bookmark, rate and comment on your videos allows visitors to engage with your content on a whole new level and can have major Video SEO benefits. Adding the sharing component is easy, most sites will offer a button to be added to your video page template – let your visitors be your viral marketing team and spread your content across websites like Digg, Del.icio.us, Facebook and MySpace. The most important component of Social Media Strategy for Video SEO are blogs – creating blogs revolving around a specific topic will not only generate additional traffic and brand awareness but give a website more opportunities for cross linking.
There are two types of feeds when video is concerned, RSS and mRSS – both are similar and easy to create with the right tools. RSS feeds allow a visitor to subscribe to the content on your site and updates them whenever there is new content. There is not direct relationship between Video SEO and RSS feeds, but should be implemented in an overall traffic building strategy. mRSS feeds however directly impact Video SEO by allowing video search engines to have direct access to your websites video content. mRSS feed components contain the standard RSS elements like meta data, URL to content and thumbnails – but the key differences are ones that can impact rankings. These elements that include video ratings, play count and tags should be included whenever possible. Each of the video search engines that accept mRSS feeds have different requirements, but the best example is from Yahoo.
The importance of sitemaps in standard SEO is still up for debate, however when it comes to Video SEO and video sitemaps – Google does not accept mRSS feeds, but they do accept video sitemaps through their webmaster interface. Video sitemaps use the standard sitemap protocol but contain video specific tags.
Title and Meta Tags
As with standard SEO practice meta data should be used to its fullest extent. For video pages the focus should be entirely on the video content. The title should contain the name of the video and video specific keyword sets. The meta description should be a brief summary of the video that occupies that page, as standard it is important to keep the meta data as unique and descriptive as possible for each video page. Header tags should be used to call out the importance of page content.
Your navigation should have two purposes, to make sure spiders can easily crawl your website discovering all your content and you want your visitors to find it easy not only to find your content but discover new content. When videos are concerned a simple video playlist can accomplish both of these – the key thing to remember is that you want them to be crawlable and relevant to the content on the page. As previously stated when discussing linking this is also a great opportunity to bring in related content, including: articles, photos and audio. All of these contribute to relevancy as well as enhance the overall user experience.
Another core SEO component is a static, and therefore SEO friendly URL – The URL for a video should have limited dynamic parameters, contain relevant keywords and have a succinct file structure.
Video File Nomenclature
As with all aspects of Rich Media, how you name a file can have a positive impact on your SEO efforts – wherever possible you should name your video file in a keyword descriptive manner instead of a random database / CMS generated name. Video File Nomenclature is just another way to help video search engines define your page relevance.
Measuring the success or failure of your digital efforts and the impact Video SEO has on your website’s traffic is as important as everything else. PlanetStream offers NetTracker at just £20 a month to all packages to better measure how well your video content is doing.
As with standard SEO, Video SEO is not about setting it up and then forgetting about it, it is a continuous process involving constant reporting and analysis.