We know that a great explainer video can increase engagement and conversions for prospects that are already on your page. However, there is also the potential to use your explainer video to attract new visitors to your page.
This power of video to draw clicks is well documented by research from MediaMind, which shows that the click-through rate for online video is 12 to 27.4 times that of other forms of advertising.1
This means that consumers are considerably more likely to click on a link to your page if they think they will have an opportunity to watch a video about your product.
However, in order to benefit from this statistic, you need to know how to get your video shown in the search engines results pages (SERP’s).
In this post I will go over some strategies you can use to help ensure your video is displayed in Google’s SERP’s as well as effective hosting practices to ensure that people who find your video in the SERP’s are taken to your site when they do click on your link. There are some technical aspects to this type of optimization which will not be covered here; however, when appropriate I will be sure to direct you to other articles which will cover the technical details.
Video Rich Snippets (VRS’s)
A VRS is a Google search engine entry which displays a thumbnail of your video either on its own or next to your text entry.
Here is an example of a VRS that came up from a Google search using the keywords, “how to groom your dog”.
It’s advantageous to have your video show up as a VRS in Google’s SERP’s because a VRS attracts more attention than a plain text entry, and VRS’s often show up at the top of the Google SERP’s.
In order to have a chance of getting your video to show up as a VRS in Google’s SERP’s you need to tell Google what your video is about. This doesn’t involve a phone call to the Google offices or even an email. You tell Google about your video by submitting an XML sitemap of your video.2
Tell Google what your video is about
The sitemap, among other things, contains a text-based description of your video. Google needs the sitemap information because it cannot know what is contained within a video without some text-based description (although, it’s unclear if Google can glean information from a video to some extent). More information on video sitemaps can be found in Phil Nottingham’s article on video hosting and embedding.
In addition to the sitemap, you will want to properly mark up your video on your page, since, according to Google, “When video information is marked up in the body of a web page, Google can identify it and may use that information to improve our search results.”3 Learn more about how to mark up your videos for Google.
When you place a video on your site and properly mark it up and submit an XML sitemap to Google, this does not necessarily mean that Google will place a rich snippet of your video in your regular SERP entries.
Web searcher keywords, in combination with your meta descriptions of your video, as well as other factors, will determine when a rich snippet for your video is displayed in the SERPs.
In essence, your video is more likely to show up as a rich snippet when Google thinks your video is about what someone is searching for.
The case of FanNewscast
Let’s take the explainer video I produced for FanNewscast as an example. FanNewscast is a company that helps organizations gain authentic Facebook likes. Their video explains how their product works and, at the same time, gives users some insight into how Facebook works. The company’s video may not show up in Google’s SERP’s as a VRS for the keyword “FanNewscast”, however, if tagged appropriately, it could potentially turn up as a VRS for the keywords, “how to get Facebook likes”, or, “how does Facebook posting work”.
The FanNewscast example highlights another promising source of traffic from explainer videos: the potential to attract visitors through long tail searches, that is, the strings of very specific keywords (such as “how to attract high quality facebook likes”) that individually have low incidence, but together can comprise a big portion of your traffic generation.
Lastly, it’s good to know that explanatory videos are likely to attract more attention than other types of videos. According to Phil Nottingham, an SEO consultant at Distilled London, you will have a better chance of getting Google to return a VRS for your entry if your video is on a page that targets terms that are instructional or explanatory, e.g. “how to” or “explanation”.4
Good hosting practice
Getting your video to show up as a VRS in Google’s SERP’s is one half of the equation. The other half is about utilizing a proper hosting strategy. While often overlooked, it is crucial that you make an informed decision when deciding how to host your explainer video.
Most organizations who place explainer videos on their site are looking to use that video to attract visitors to their site and ultimately increase conversions. Therefore, the remainder of this section will focus on hosting for such results.
A common way that organizations post videos on their site is by uploading them to Youtube and embedding a link to the Youtube video on their site.This method has its advantages, the largest of which is the fact that the video is more likely to show up in a Google SERP.
Sounds good. End of story, right? Well, not quite.
The problem with this approach is that when someone clicks on a Youtube VRS in Google’s SERP’s they will be taken to the organizations Youtube page and not the organization’s web page.
Yes, it’s true that it is possible to lead them to your web page from Youtube, however, those would be secondary clicks.
Your organization is much more likely to benefit from a strategy that would take people directly to your website.
In order to do this you need to either self-host the video or host it on a third-party secure hosting platform.5
Self-hosting would involve placing the video directly on your hosting server and placing the necessary lines in your website’s code to ensure the video displays properly.
Unless you have a great technical team, my recommendation is to use a third-party secure hosting service. This is simply because there are a number of issues to consider when self-hosting a video, including the need to ensure your video can be played on multiple platforms, which entails setting up your video in HTML5 and using a Flash fallback.
A third-party secure hosting service is a web service that allows you to upload your videos to their site and then embed these videos on your site. However, unlike a free service like Youtube or Vimeo’s free service, when visitors click on a SERP link to your video, they will actually be taken directly to your video.
There are other advantages to using a third-party secure hosting service, including having control over the video player as well as the ability to get links directly back to your site when people embed your video on their site.
More information on third-party hosting solutions can be found in Phil Nottingham’s excellent article on video hosting and embedding.
Linking Root Domains
If your offering falls into the category of something that many people are trying to figure out how to do, then you might attract interest from a number of other sites. These sites may decide to provide a link to your video or even embed your video on their site.
If you have a good video that explains something that a number of people are interested in, you don’t have to wait for site administrators to find your video. You can do a search for blog sites that cover topics in line with your video’s topic and invite them to feature your video on their site. The fact that you have a professionally produced video on the topic, and not merely textual coverage, will make it easier to secure links and embeds.
1. Martin, A. (September 12, 2012). Consumers 27 Times More Likely to Click-Through Online Video Ads than Standard Banners. mediamind.com. Retrieved May 7, 2013 from http://www.mediamind.com/consumers-27-times-more-likely-click-through-online-video-ads-standard-banners.
2, 4, 5. Nottingham, P. (April 8, 2012). An SEO’s Guide to Video Hosting and Embedding. www.seomoz.org. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from http://www.seomoz.org/blog/hosting-and-embedding-for-video-seo.
3. Google (September 12, 2012). Rich snippets – Videos: Facebook Share and RDFa. Support.google.com. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=162163.