Ever since Google rolled out universal search back in 2007, webmasters have been drooling over a new feature of the search results pages: the video thumbnail.
That screenshot with its little play button just begs people to click! It’s almost impossible to ignore.
You don’t have to be an expert to understand the benefits of getting one of your video thumbnails listed in the search results. More visibility in the results page means more click-throughs, more traffic to your site, and ultimately, more sales or leads.
But with so many videos floating around the web, how do you get yours to show up in the results?
Some would say luck, and they might not be far off. But here are 7 tips that can give you an edge on the competition:
1) Optimize your video like you would any other page on your website
Search engines aren’t smart enough to watch videos and understand them (yet). If you want a search engine to understand what your video is about, you will have to tell it yourself.
Most every video sharing site (like YouTube) will give you a chance to enter three major things about a video:
- Keyword tags
Make sure that you take full advantage of each of these tags. Choose keywords that matter to your site and describe your video. When writing a title tag, try to keep the most valuable keywords towards the beginning of the title because they will be considered most important by the search engine.
2) When it makes sense, add “what” and “how to” in your video title
Search engines understand that showing a video doesn’t always help someone when they conduct a search. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to show a video when someone searches for “directions to the TD Garden”. It’s a better idea to show a map result for this search, or the direct link to TD Garden website. Who wants to sit and watch a video when they are trying to go watch the Celtics play?
On the other hand, search engines know that certain keywords signal that a video would be very helpful to the user. Words like “what” and “how to” within a search have a much higher likelihood of returning video thumbnails, because those types of questions can be answered through a video demonstration.
3) Syndicate your videos across multiple video sharing sites
But don’t just limit yourself to one sharing site. If you have the power to do so, there are major benefits to hosting a video on your own website (see the tips below for hosting your own videos). There are a number of other popular video sharing sites like Vimeo, MetaCafe, and Dailymotion. Search engines crawl those sites as well and having a presence on all the major ones can be a good strategy for getting your video noticed.
PRO TIP: Luckily, there is a free tool that can save you a lot of time here. Once you set up accounts for each of the major video sharing sites, try out Oneload. This tool by TubeMogul, lets you optimize and automatically syndicate your video across each sharing site. That can save you hours of uploading!
4) Share videos socially
Social networks thrive on sharing rich content like video. You are far more likely to get people sharing your video when it is seen on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. When your video is shared across these channels it signals search engines that it is worthwhile to list in the search results. Plus, social networks like Facebook can generate a ton of referral traffic back to your website!
5) Create a video sitemap
Sitemaps are a great way to tell search engines where the pages are on your website. The good news is there are special sitemaps intended just for videos. Remember, search engines are blind when it comes to watching a video, so you need to tell them where it is and what it’s about.
Follow these simple instructions from Google for how to create a video sitemap.
6) Re-pupose the content in your videos
Think of this as an extension of tip #1. There are a lot of things that you can do to get extra content mileage out of a video. If you have the time, write a transcript and post it as an extended description. The added content will lend context to the video and make it easier for a search engine to learn what it’s about.
If you don’t have time to create a transcript, check out a service Speechpad–they will take care of it for you.
7) Keep it short and sweet
Ok, so this one is more of a content creation tip, but it still applies to getting your video thumbnails to rank. Shorter videos are typically watched in their entirety and are more likely to be shared. Most people will probably watch your video while they are taking a quick break from work. They don’t have the time or freedom to watch something as long as “Gone With The Wind”.