Content Strategy

Essential SEO Video Marketing Strategies to Win with Both Algorithms and Audiences

By Christine Warner on May 2, 2019

Optimizing video content for search is easy to overlook. With a visual, audio, and immersive content format, it's not as intuitive to follow standard SEO requirements as it is for other formats like blog content and case studies. Yet, SEO video marketing is essential to any brand or organization's content strategy and video distribution.

Why? Because video is the preferred content type by global consumers.

Some Truth in Pivot-To-Video Mentality

Hubspot research found that video was the preferred content format among more than 3,000 people in the United States, Germany, Columbia, and Mexico.

The survey asked, "What kind of content do you want to see from a brand or business you support?" Fifty-four percent of respondents selected video-the highest preference, followed by email or newsletters, social media images, social media videos, blog articles, and PDF downloads.

And when it comes to where people like to view videos, the top five platforms among United States respondents were:

  1. YouTube
  2. Facebook
  3. Netflix
  4. Instagram
  5. Amazon Video

It's no surprise that YouTube tops all lists, as it's the world's second largest search engine behind Google, and the second most frequented website on the internet. With more than one billion users, YouTube is used by almost one-third of the entire internet. And every month, more than 1.9 billion logged-in users visit YouTube.

youtube marketing in 2019

Image attribution: Szabo Viktor

But where does YouTube fall within the digital landscape? Is it a social media network or a search engine? Or both? Neither? You'll find different answers based on what sources you turn to, but the bottom line is you need to optimize your video content for both SEO and social media engagement. Here are the essential strategies for both.

Follow Video SEO Basics

These video SEO marketing basics will set you up for success, and are very similar to foundational SEO tactics for traditional search engines.

  • Add Multiple Tags: Always include multiple tags for your videos. Don't be cautious of over-adding. The more the better. Focus on terms that users will search for on YouTube, incorporating both broad and specific searches.
  • Publish Videos Consistently: The production value of video content demands more time, effort, and investment than other content types. However, it's important to publish frequently and consistently. As you consider your video content strategy, try to balance high production videos with lower production videos to establish a consistent cadence.
  • Integrate Relevant Keywords: Using Google Trends or another tool, identify keywords to integrate into your titles and descriptions. Just like editorial content, you want to optimize for primary and secondary keywords and phrases. Remember, YouTube has its own search feature.

Understand YouTube User Behavior

When focusing on how to optimize video for search, considering and understanding user behavior is key to helping your content rankings and engagement.

  • Invite Channel Subscriptions: Take advantage of the social proof of subscriptions by adding subscription cards to the end of your videos. Optimizing for subscriptions benefits both users and algorithms. This is a key metric to focus on, for both user and platform optimization.
  • Upload Multilingual Transcripts: To help the algorithm identify the content of your video, upload the transcript-and use YouTube's multiple language features to appeal to a wider audience. YouTube has a global reach, so don't limit the language. Creating unique assets by language on your own can be time intensive and expensive, so take advantage of this technology for a simple way to extend your reach.
  • Prioritize Your Brand Identity: From your banner photo to your "About" section, make sure your channel is cleanly branded and appealing. Like any other content destination, insert your brand identity. Make it consistent with your other social media channels so it has visual appeal to viewers and makes them want to visit again.
  • Categorize Each Video: Similar to tagging each video, be sure to select a specific category for each video. This also gives YouTube information to help surface your content and helps users find you when searching by category or a category term.
  • Create for Mobile: Seventy percent of YouTube content is consumed on mobile devices. If your video doesn't display well on mobile devices, you're done for. Users won't wait around for videos with slow load times. The mobile experience should be the first criteria for consumption value.

Appeal to the Platform Algorithms

youtube front page

Image attribution: Christian Wiediger

YouTube has its own search requirements and set of algorithm criteria that marketers should understand in order to truly comprehend their video performance and optimize their uploadsfor the greatest impact. Here's a few of the best practices for making sure your YouTube videos rise in the rankings:

  • Optimize for Watch Times: When it comes to length, there's no ideal length to please the algorithm. But, in general, shorter is better for user attention spans. Focus on optimizing your videos for watch times - how much of your video people watch before they drop off.
  • Create Channel Playlists: Time spent on your brand's YouTube channel contributes greatly to the value YouTube places on your content. To help increase the time spent on your channel, create relevant playlists of videos. These playlists don't have to exclusively contain your video content. You can include videos from other people or channels to boost the time on your channel.
  • Add YouTube to Google Analytics: Don't forget to take advantage of the YouTube analytics offered through Google Analytics. Streamline your reporting across your web and video content through a centralized tool.
  • Focus on Building Engagement: YouTube doesn't just prioritize technical optimization like keywords and tags. User interaction is also central to what YouTube considers quality content. Metrics such as likes, comments, and shares also contribute to your ranking. Keep this in mind as you develop your video content strategy, knowing that the quality and relevance of your content will build engagement.

SEO video marketing integrates both search and social factors. It's both an immersive search engine and a shareable video community. When marketers are questioning how to optimize video for search, the answer is all of the above-incorporating SEO basics, the user community, and platform algorithms.

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Featured image attribution: Lonely Planet


Christine Warner

Christine Warner is a freelance writer and digital marketer with agency, brand, and non-profit experience developing integrated campaigns and content platforms for diverse brands such as Uber, Samsung, Walgreens, Victoria’s Secret, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Dignity Health. Her digital marketing specialties include content marketing strategy, customer relationship management, brand product marketing, digital media planning, social media marketing, and search engine optimization. Currently, she is the Senior Manager of Digital for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where she oversees the digital marketing efforts for the various non-profit communities and ministries throughout Southern California. As a freelance writer, she contributes regularly to various lifestyle and marketing publications. You can check out her writing portfolio to browse all her work.