From the mind of Jessy Smulski
Things got dicey in the land of marketing after content got crowned king. Everyone wanted (and frankly needed) a stake in the claim. But instead of following the moral order of content marketing, brands threw elbows in the form of black-hat marketing tactics. Articles got crammed full of keywords. A complete disregard for quality and relevance became semi-standard practice, and the sheer number of ads above the fold made some of us go mildly cross-eyed. Google was inundated with so much crap content; they faced extinction. Who would search for honest answers on a search engine filled to the brim with blather?
A Brief History...
In a direct response to all the shade marketers threw, Google tested over 13,000 possible improvements and made 516 updates in 2010. If that’s not a testament to the value of failure, I don’t know what is (and neither does Thomas Edison). Each year thereafter, Google released a storm of updates intended to improve the quality of online content (among other things). Many of the updates introduced or improved upon key “ranking factors” that search engines now use to determine which content deserves top placement on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). As of July 2017, Google applies 205 ranking factors to differentiate the marketing mavericks from the malevolent.
The Top Google Ranking Factors:
- Quality content: no content, no leverage. No quality content, still no leverage.
- Content length: longer content tends to rank higher.
- Backlinks: linking from one web page to another.
- Mobile Friendliness: how well content loads and presents on mobile devices.
- Page Speed: how fast content loads on all devices.
Organic vs. Paid SEO
Organic SEO refers to the organic placement of your content on SERPs. Marketers appropriately use Google ranking factors to earn their spot on the first page. Paid SEO (e.g. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)) is paid placement on the first page. Get the price and keyword right, and you might just hit the jackpot and rank high.
Both types of SEO are important, but during Google’s rapid state of evolution, many experts pronounced organic SEO dead. It was nearly impossible to compete with black-hat strategies and big budgets. Untrustworthy or well-financed brands rose to the top. Humble, honest brands fell to the bottom. And many of us had no choice but to exercise different marketing muscles like email and social media to reach target audiences.
Flash forward to 2018, and SEO appears to be rising from the grave! Don’t panic. This isn’t the zombie apocalypse. You can leave your bug-out bag right where it is. This is great news for marketers! It means the playing field is beginning to balance out again, and “free” marketing is giving paid marketing a run for it’s…uh…money. Who do we have to thank for this magnificent marketing resurrection?
Remember back when we talked about Google making a ton of updates to combat black hat marketing? That’s not all they were doing…Google bought YouTube in 2006 for 1.65 billion bucks. They had the foresight to predict where content was headed, and that’s why they’re Google — not Yahoo.
Google and YouTube are the world’s largest search engines. It’s no surprise they work in tandem. If you search tutorial or how-to in Google, the odds are good you’ll see videos ranked on page one. Google also added a “video” tab exclusively for video results. Put it together, folks!
Video Marketing + YouTube + SEO Strategy = Organic SEO Success
Factor No. 37 on Google’s rank list is multimedia (including images, videos and more). Factor No. 61 is useful content (what’s more useful than a tutorial or how-to video?). Factor No. 76 is YouTube. That’s right; YouTube content gets preferential treatment with Google search engines.
If history repeats itself, video will eventually follow a similar path as textual content. The internet will become oversaturated. It will become increasingly difficult to earn rank. Your saving grace will be producing high quality, entertaining, helpful visual content that expertly aligns with the needs and interests of your target audiences. Mark my words, the early adopters of video will have a significant advantage over brands who fail to evolve their strategies.
For now, organic traffic is alive, well, and up for the taking. YouTube is largely untapped, but beware. 48 percent of marketers plan to add YouTube to their content strategy in the next year.
Video SEO Tips For Organic Traffic
The first rule of video marketing — own the fact that quality matters above all else. Don’t assume for one second that simply tossing a video out into cyberspace is going to score you points with the search engine gods. It won’t. Here are a few SEO tips that will:
1. Spend Time on Your Titles and Thumbnails
Your title and thumbnail image are what your potential viewer will use to decide whether to click or not. Choose an interesting but relevant thumbnail image to represent your video. Showcase your wit and creativity in 65 characters or less. If it makes sense to include a keyword — do it!
2. Optimize Your Video Content
If a tree falls in the woods and nobody’s around to hear it, did the tree really fall? By that same logic, If your video gets published online, but nobody can find it, does it really exist? Make sure you optimize your video content by including “share” buttons and links. Most importantly, make your video worthy of sharing.
3. Make Your Motion Picture Mobile Friendly
This tip isn’t negotiable. Desktop video is still a key aspect of driving traffic, but over half of video content is viewed on mobile. Choose a responsive website and video player that performs well on mobile devices.
Pro tip: When you publish on YouTube, your video will automatically optimize for mobile viewing.
4. Master Metadata
There’s a lot of speculation about whether or not video will cause the written word to die out. It won’t. After all, you are reading this article. But the bigger reason is this: search engines need text to crawl to figure out if content is relevant to search queries. Metadata is textual information that exists on the back-end of a video. E.g. the date of recording, copyright information, media format, the video’s title, a description of the video and relevant tags.
Pro tip: Some metadata is automatically generated for you. Push the content further by manually adding more and working keywords into the metadata (where appropriate).
5. Transcribe Your Videos
Give search engines even more text to crawl by transcribing your video content. Turn the transcript into a blog or guide. Offer the transcript below the video to provide visitors with the option to read or view. Transcribing will enhance the value of your video and support the consistency and diversity of your overall content marketing strategy.
Pro Tip: With transcription in mind, include keywords in your video script. Make certain that keyword placement is natural and logical. A professional writer will wordsmith the heck out of your script with SEO in mind.
A final tip (this one should be obvious) — publish to YouTube, Vimeo, social media channels, your website, and anywhere else that makes sense. Creating an exceptional video with SEO strategy is only half the battle. Next, you need to distribute your video, monitor analytics, and make adjustments to help it get found and shared.