Hands On Search: As the use of online video continues to rise, marketers want to make sure their filmed product demonstrations, announcements and video ads are found via organic search. What are your thoughts here?
Wayne: Google and other search engines, in their constant efforts to improve user click-throughs on search results, have begun showing what are known as” blended search results.” In blended search results, the search engines show not only traditional page links but also other forms of content, such as images and video.
Google, for example, knows that video is more likely to generate a user click than any other form of content and, as a result often awards the No. 1 spot on search query pages to a video, if one exists.
HOS: How do search engines find these videos?
Wayne: Even though a company may have video on its Web site, search engines may not know it's there. Google's crawlers, for example, which are used to detect content on Web pages, don't read content that's composed in Flash. Since most videos today are in Flash, Google doesn't know they exist.
In order for Google to find video content, a publisher needs to submit a video site map—similar to a traditional XML site map, but specific to video content—via Google's Webmaster Tools. Once submitted, Google will begin indexing videos within days, and results will begin to appear in search results within a few weeks. In my direct experience with clients, Google will award a first-page search result to up to 25% of all video content submitted.
HOS: How is video ranking decided on?
Wayne: Unlike traditional SEO, where all forms of meta-data matter, Google seems to rely primarily on the video title when it comes to video SEO. It's important to submit other meta-data, since Google may consider it in the future; but, for the moment, marketers should primarily focus on tuning their video titles to match the search keywords they are targeting. The title tags of the page also should match the video title, since Google appears to award extra credit for the match.
Meanwhile, companies should still submit to the search engines the page on which the video resides, using a traditional XML site map. In doing so, all the traditional rules of SEO still apply, and attention should be shown to meta-data, page text, links and so forth.
HOS: How do you account for this strong showing for video in search ranking?
Wayne: Web pages continue to proliferate at a rate that's several orders of magnitude greater than video content, and relatively little video content is being successfully submitted to the major search engines. As long as video remains a minority form of content, and as long as users pay greater attention to video content, marketers will continue to enjoy a much greater return on their video SEO compared to other SEO techniques.
Yes, video involves some technical challenges, but the bottom line is that video SEO is a technique all marketers should be enthusiastically embracing.