Video SEO: Why, What & How?

What are the facts, statistics and functions behind using Video SEO?

Many in SEO hold a strong opinion around Video SEO marketing strategies, most will name YouTube as the sole traffic driver to video. But the fact is if you place videos onto your website pages then it will improve your Google search ranks in more ways than one. Video content that is discoverable by Google drives as much as double the search traffic and double the visibility for any of your existing website pages or search ranks. It does so traditionally by signalling to Google (through the use of video snippets) that the page now contains a video and as a result is more useful than other competing webpages. In some cases video thumbnails even appear in search engine results, improving visibility.

Why Is Video So Important To SEO?

  1. Google's number 1 ranking factor (see below) is the detection of clicks in search results: Just having the word 'video' improves click through rates by an estimated 55% (see facts below).
  2. Google's number 2 ranking factor is relevant terms: Video provides detailed keyword optimisations by using the video subtitles as descriptions.
  3. Google's number 3 ranking factor is shares: Video gets 12x more shares than links or text posts on Facebook (see facts below).

Fig 1: Video affects every major Google ranking factor in 2014 (click to enlarge)


What Is Video SEO Anyway?

Video Search Engine Optimisation (beyond optimising videos on YouTube) provides search engines with the assets the search engine needs to improve the include video in more keyword search results. This is done either by gathering all the video information for each embedded video on a webpage, so that search engines can properly understand and include videos in search results. Or it is done by optimising your YouTube title, description, tags, links and video thumbnail; making the video more relevant to more searches being conducted. Video SEO is also used to identify existing video content searches, helping brands and creators to understand what ideas for ideas are out there, based on monthly search traffic estimates e.g. "How to make looms bands" is search 74,000 times a month in the UK.

Why Use Video SEO?

The Discovery Channel found that video SEO increased their video streams by 123% (Discovery Digital Media, 2010). Just as Adjust Your Set also found that Video SEO increased views by as much as 41% by mapping videos to our clients normal website pages and search engine ranks. How can you do this? The answer is to create a video and video player of your own for the page that you wish to accelerate search visibility for, then map the video using a video sitemap.

The Facts:

  1. 62% of Google universal searches include video. (Marketingland)
  2. You can double your search traffic by having a video thumbnail in your search result. (IQ Visibility)
  3. Video is 50 times more likely to get organic pageranks in Google than plain text results. (Forrester)
  4. Eye's are more likely to focus on video thumbnails and not number one paid or organic search results. (Searchengineland and SEOmoz 2011)
  5. Video search results have a 41% higher click through than plain text results. (Aimclear)
  6. 59% of B2B’s prefer video to text. (Forbes)
  7. People stay 2 minutes longer on your site if you have video. (Comscore)
  8. Using the word 'Video' increases click through by 55% (eMarketer)
  9. Videos are shared 12x more than text and links on Facebook (Hubspot)


Fig 2: A video search engine result for M&S "Underwear", searched 22,200 times a month in the UK.


The History Of Video SEO:

2008 began with some interesting studies into the performance of Google's 'new' universal search results. Universal search results began life as search results that included images, maps, videos, listings, ratings and  news. Optimisers at the time were particularly interested to know more about how video could potentially create more opportunities to increase webpage traffic, visibility and authority from Google, who love video.

The internet optimisation industry as a whole started looking at the way eyes focus on search results including video thumbnails. Traditional marketers were already familiar with organic, even paid search results but thumbnail images against webpage search results got some website owners hugely excited.

Fig 3: Focal heatmap research on the typical eye concentration in search.


Following the many research thesis's in 'new' online habits that universal search results were creating; web marketers began to realise that video was not only increasing the dwell time on web pages (source: Microsoft) but becoming more available to audiences as broadband internet connections began to sweep across the world.

Many marketers have come around to the method of getting video found in their own search results not just YouTubes. And many have learnt that there must be a schedule to syndicating video, uploading and posting videos in order to gain the maximum authority from video content to their own website.

You may rely on YouTube players and pages but using your own player, submitting an xml video sitemap for your own website and beginning to optimise video conversion rates by using video commerce all have advantageous rewards in E-Commerce. In video search engine optimisation the opportunity not to let go of is to improve social shares of your own website and not that of only YouTube. As internet users spend increasingly long hours per month on social networks (The UK on average spends 7 hours on social networks a month; Source: Comscore) this is the most important gateway to monetising a very social web.

Optimising videos to improve your website and increase your website's discoverability is paramount, for more details on what Video SEO is why not take a look at our Video SEO periodic table of elements (below) and get in touch if you need expert advice on video SEO.


The Video SEO Periodic Table (click to enlarge)


Our Video SEO Service.

Adjust Your Set offers an Agile Video Sitemap service, whereby we can detect video embeds, crawl for the perfect meta data, match this to the right video assets and compile [at scale] a video SEO sitemap for Google that can be quickly moderated for performance and provide analytics thereafter.

It is recommended that website owners should firstly index their, or their agencies location of the video sitemap (agile or not) in their robots.txt file. This provides the necessary stamp of trust and thereof location of the sitemap to search engines (search engines use robots.txt file to identify where and what to crawl and index). From there an Agile Video Sitemap is able to update automatically after each video is moderated.

Fig 5: The Agile Video Sitemap Dashboard

What We Recommend

Website owners are also recommended to wrap their videos in a standard set of Video Rich Snippets at the very least. Video Rich Snippets were created in 2011 by the top search engines [such as Google, Bing and Yandex] in partnership to better identify rich media content on website pages to then be included in search results.

By wrapping your video embed in Video Rich Snippets you are telling the blind (ish) searchbots that there is a video present. A Video SEO embed generator with full Video Rich Snippets is available too from Adjust Your Set and can even include Facebook video microformats that trigger video players within social shares of your webpages.

Facebook offer a full set of microformats (est. 2010) that trigger video players to carry into Facebook posts from any share of any webpage into Facebook posts. The benefit of this is every webpage shared into Facebook anywhere on your site can trigger automatic video posts in Facebook with commerce functionality.

It is important to justify that Agile Video Sitemaps or video sitemaps do not depend necessarily on any major work to be undertaken by website owners. All that is required is a video player or video embed is crawlable on the page by search engines (i.e. not loading from the head instead of the body of a page or as an Iframe) and a link to be inserted into the Robots.txt file pointing to the Video sitemap.

Why Video?

  1. Mixing videos with images in an article drives up to 33 times more shares/links (Moz / Adjust Your Set).
  2. Video Search Results have a 41% higher click through than plain text results. (Aimclear),
  3. 48% of the most shared pieces of content are video (Seo site Moz),
  4. 59% of B2B’s prefer video to text. (Forbes),
  5. 78% of the most successful B2B marketers create more content than a year ago (CMI)
  6. 58% of consumers consider companies that produce video content to be more trustworthy (Econsultancy),
  7. 40% of social media users follow brands simply to read entertaining and compelling content (IAB),
  8. Two thirds of people would pay 10% more if they enjoy and engage with branded content (Marketing Magazine),
  9. We spend 20% of the time reading online content (CMI).


A Word Of Warning

There will always be opportunities to trick or indeed spam search and social platforms, we advise not to consider spam tactics such as duplicating videos on multiple pages, mapping more than one video to one page, trying to map videos to homepages (as homepages act as contents pages in search engines, strictly not spam but worth mentioning) and a whole host of other activities that otherwise result in a poor user experience. For more advice on Video SEO watch this video from Econsultancy that features M&S or visit Google's help center.

5 Everyday Video SEO Fails

  1. Not using subtitles as html to improve search engine ranks,
  2. Forgeting to extract the best images from video content and optimising them for social posts,
  3. Not using your own video player to garnish exclusive links and direct traffic,
  4. Not putting each video onto unique pages,
  5. Not mapping [or wrapping] videos with video sitemaps or video snippets.
  6. Ignoring the opportunity to trend searches with the most traffic.



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