Why is Video SEO So Blasted Hard?
Ever since I attended MozCon 2012 last July I have been on the video SEO warpath. It all started when Paddy Moogan uttered the words “Put an embed code in an embed code.” I felt like jumping up and down, shouting “Eureka!” and running around the room. Aside from enthusiasm…perhaps one of my most valuable personality traits (although my kids would probably argue that it isn’t a virtue) is my tenacity. Right now, the focus of that tenacity is learning how to improve the SEO on the 100 or so videos produced by the company where I work as an in-house SEO strategist.
Here are the challenges:
- All of our videos are posted on our YouTube channel first, then embedded in our site.
- Most of our videos are product promotion videos, not the best content for YouTube.
- None of our videos had transcripts (We began doing them 3 months ago).
- Video search results deliver visitors to our YouTube channel instead of our site.
- Visitors who grab our embed code are linking to our YouTube channel, not to our site.
Step 1 – Transcribe Your Video
Step 2 – Make sure the transcriptions are posted on your site, not just as captions on YouTube
Out of everything I tried to address, this was the hardest solution to find. What I wanted for our existing videos was the ability to publish an interactive transcript beneath the video window inside a scroll box that would follow along as the video played and highlight the line of text that was being spoken at any given time. I also wanted that content to be shareable and I wanted visitors who potentially found a relevant line of text from the video in a search engine result to be able to click on that and have it take them to exactly that spot in the video.
Here is an example of SpeakerText in action:
Step 3 – Create an Embed code that links back to your site instead of your YouTube channel
What’s even worse?
When someone grabbed the embed code off of the embedded YouTube videos on our site, they too were delivering our potential visitors…that’s right…you guessed it…to YouTube.
Paddy Moogan’s blog post Getting Links and SEO Value from your YouTube Videos contains an update with a handy little tool created by Sean Lind that automatically creates an embed code in a video embed code. Ah, the magic of that phrase…”an embed code in an embed code.” Every time I think about it I get lost in a daydream of possibilities….Okay, back to the task at hand.
You can view an example of how the embed code looks in the screenshot below:
It's not beautifully styled, but adding a nice looking button with expanding box for the script are easy to do. Here's an example of how the embed code renders on another Website when a visitor copies and pastes it into their source code:
Video by CCI Solutions
Still, a problem remains. If the visitor chooses, they can still opt to grab the YouTube Embed code, putting us right back at square 1 with all those visitors being directed back to YouTube instead of us.
Step 4 – Create a Plan that Secures Ownership of Yuur Future Video Content
The best solution moving forward will be to use a service like Wistia to privately host the videos. This way, we will get 100% credit for creating and posting the content and any shares or embeds will direct visitors back to our site instead of YouTube. The beauty of this is that even though our content is hosted by a 3rd party, for Google’s purposes the content is ours and coming from us. Now, you might ask the question “But what about the YouTube Channel that you’ve invested years and thousands of hours in building? Will it be abandoned? It’s got over 1 million views!” Sit tight. There’s an answer.
Step 5 - Use YouTube as a syndication tool, not a content creation tool.
3rd Party Video Hosting
If you decide to host your videos yourself, here are some helpful links:
You’ll just need to be sure to embed your video in an HTML5 player with flash fallback. DO NOT use an iframe! Search engines cannot crawl the content enclosed within an iframe. Now, if you are like me, the last three sentences aren’t too far away from pure Greek. That’s why, for us, 3rd part video hosting is going to be the way to go. Still, should you adventure down the yellow brick road of hosting them yourself, here are some good, customizable video players:
I would be remiss if I didn’t credit some very helpful people who helped us make a plan and give direction to our Video SEO Strategy:
Getting Video Results in Google - Phil Nottingham, Distilled
Building Links with Video Content - Jacob Klein, Distilled
Getting Links and SEO Value from Your YouTube Videos - Paddy Moogan, Distilled
SEOMoz Q & A - A great community for SEOs