Search engines really love video content. All you have to do is search for just about any topic and you’ll see….video is usually at the top of your search list.
Why is this and what can you do to improve your video’s search ranking?
First, “videos” are usually fun to watch and can really mesmerize the viewer. This pretty much makes “videos” the prom queen of the world wide web.
We can’t get enough of them. In fact, in 2011 alone, YouTube had more than 1 trillion views – that’s around 140 views for every person on Earth. Google and Bing are well aware of our love affair with video content, so they give us what we want and serve it up more regularly.
Of course, that’s not the whole reason, videos lead to long page views, and long page views are a good thing. If you can keep someone on a page for a long time, Google reasons you must have quality content and gives you higher priority.
With that said, let’s use these advantages to work a little SEO black magic using your video.
How do you use embedded video to improve your website’s search ranking?
There are a lot of things you can do, but the three steps below are a great start!
1. Make Sure Google can “See” your Video
Your first order of business is to help Google to “see” your video and get an idea of what it is about. Without this information, your videos will be lost in web limbo, hanging around with bad types like Justin Beiber and doing nothing to help your page ranking.
The reason for this is that Google can’t actually watch your video and understand it’s content.
So, in order to to open Google’s eyes, it helps to create an xml “Video Sitemap” and also a “Robots.txt” file. These files contain information about the content and specifications of your video – so when Google indexes your site, it will read these files and be better placed to rank your video alongside related search queries.
Despite sounding awfully technical, creating these files isn’t hard. You have a few of options when it comes to accomplishing it.
Get your hosting provider to do it
The easiest option is to check if your video hosting provider can automatically produce a Video Sitemap for you.
If you host your videos with Wistia I know they definitely do this – as well as helping you create a “robots.txt” file. In fact they have a great video walk through video here: http://wistia.com/doc/video-seo
Use third party software
Secondly, you can use third party software to produce the Video Site Map.
I like A1 Sitemap Generator. Although it’s not free, there is a fully functional 30 day free trial which should give you more than enough time to produce the necessary files.
Once you have your Video Sitemap file, save it to the root directory of your website with an .xml extension. You can call it whatever you want, but “videositemap.xml” is the common sense option.
Once your sitemap is on the root directory, you need to tell Google and other search engines where to find it. This is done using the “robots.txt” file.
If a “robots.txt” file already exists on your root directory, you can just update it (if it doesn’t exist, skip this part and scroll down). This is super-easy – simply open the file in a text editor (like Microsoft Notepad) and type the following line at the bottom:
Your file should look something like this:
Save the file to update it. That’s it your done!
What if a robots.txt file doesn’t exist? Don’t worry, creating one is ridiculously easy! The nice people over at Mcanerin Internation have a free online robots.txt file creator.
In the “Sitemap” field type the following line (you can leave the other fields on their default setting):
Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Create Robots.txt”. Copy all the generated text into a text editor (like Microsoft Notepad) and save it as:
Copy the file to the root directory of your website and you’re done!
(Optional: you can also submit your sitemap to Google using their webmaster tools site. They have a useful help page that can guide you through this process)
Write it yourself
Thirdly, you can take matters into your own hands, ignore all automation and use a text editor to write the Video Sitemap and robots.txt files yourself. You can then copy both these files to the root directory of your website.
This option has the added benefit of making you realize how technically superior you are to the rest of us illiterate plebs.
All hail you.
2. Relate the Video Title to the Web Page Title
Next, you need to make sure that the title (tag) of your video relates to the title of the web page. Google can’t actually watch and understand your video, but it can read what it is called, and it wants to know that it is relevant. With that said, try to avoid single word titles, these are not highly rated by the search giant
3. Check that the surrounding content is relevant
When it comes to SEO, if content is king, consistent content is Emperor.
That means you want to place your video on a page to which it relates. Search engines can read page text, and they want to see that your video is related and relevant to that information.
So, remember, you want consistent page title, video title, text copy and images. With all that harmony going on, viewers will find what they are looking for and Google will reward you with a better search position.
With all this done, your video content will be much more visible on Google’s radar. Of course, indexing new sitemaps etc takes a few days, so it might take a week or so for these changes to take effect.
A simple test to check your work has paid off is to type the following line into the search bar at Google.com (without quotes):
Once the seach results appear, click “more” and choose “videos”. If your videos appear, you know things are working well! If nothing appears, best to check for spelling errors etc in your sitemaps or robots files (remember to give it a week or so before doing this).
So that’s it! Three little tips that can help improve the visibility of your video content and by extension, your SEO.
Remember, with great power comes…the ability to whip your competitors in the search rankings – or something like that.
Kenny Simpson is a Creative Producer at ExplanatoryVideos.com
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