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Video Is Now A Must-Have Feature For Competitive SEO

This is the year in which we will see video grow from a “frill” some businesses occasionally include on their websites, to an essential, competitive differentiator that drives SEO and increases brand identification. Knowledgeable companies have already embraced this shift and made video a central part of their online offerings. The most advanced have found ways to create high-quality video that is automatically updated across their websites on the fly, using existing web content. At this point, it’s possible to create endless numbers of professional videos with no human intervention, and the SEO implications make it too appealing to ignore.

Ever since Google integrated video into its universal search offering in 2007, websites featuring video have gained a significant SEO advantage. When a company integrates relevant videos that match the content of its website, search engines find and index the video within the site’s context. This improves your overall website and video search ranking as it relates to your business’ keywords, and also allows search results to be presented with matching videos, making them more appealing, thereby increasing search-based traffic.

Clearly, e-businesses have gotten the message and are serving up video. In the e-retail space, for example, 68 percent of the top 50 retailers were using videos in 2009, a surge from 18 percent in 2008 according to a recent eMarketer report. Now, almost 40 percent of users who search Google see video options in their results.

Additionally, search appears to be how most internet users are finding video today and will continue to do so in the future. Furthermore, video has passed the test when it comes to overall conversion. According to our customer feedback, approximately 80 percent of online users view an entire video, and 25 percent click to purchase products, which drives an overall revenue lift of 10 to 15 percent.

Still, it is not enough to simply embed videos within a website. To harvest the full potential of videos, they should be deployed across the website. For example, a retailer selling 50,000 products online needs to cover the entire online catalog with video on each product page. This way, those videos match keywords that are specific to each and every product, targeting consumers that are more likely to search for products using those keywords.

It is also important to keep the video catalog up-to-date, so products that are being added to the catalog (and possibly to your competitors’ catalogs, as well) will be displayed as video results on universal search result pages. This helps retailers that use video wisely stand out as opposed to their competitors who only use video when new products enter the market.

Another pillar in a website’s video strategy is exposing all integrated videos to search engines. While this may be seem obvious to many readers of Search Engine Land, it is amazing how many top websites—especially retailers who recognize the importance of videos and invest time and money in integrating them into their websites—fail to get videos indexed in search engines.

Three factors drive the ability to achieve a higher SEO ranking using video: video markup, video sitemaps and syndication. A company can accomplish in-page video markup within each page that contains video by using proper context for the video, such as having a descriptive title, proper choice of keywords, links to related material, search engine friendly video URLs and including text transcripts of the video. It is also important to have the video embedded as part of the page itself. The use of popups, tricky JavaScript or frames to present the video can take away some of the video SEO momentum. However, adding as much metadata about the video as possible, such as its dimension, duration etc. can also help score SEO points.

Video sitemaps are another important area for influencing SEO. These are the video counterparts of the standard sitemaps used by almost every site today. Those XML-based files are used by websites to actively publish video information from one central location to make it easier for search engines to discover and thereby increase potential exposure. A lot of the above recommendations regarding pages with video apply here as well: creating proper titles and descriptions, selecting appropriate keywords and providing metadata about each video should all be part of a company video SEO strategy. The more that is exposed, the easier it is for search engines to index the content.

Syndication was originally used by websites to promote their brands. However, a company can also significantly boost website traffic by distributing videos to websites such as YouTube and Facebook. Again, businesses, not just individuals, have tapped into YouTube as a traffic booster. Every minute, 15 hours worth of video is uploaded to YouTube. Some of that should be coming from your business. When you start, pay attention to your video formats, choice of keywords and mix of social and personal appeal in order to stand out from the growing crowd.

Time was, videos were nice to have on a website. Now, they are a must-have element of any serious, viable e-business.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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