From Netflix to YouTube to TikTok, billions of people around the world watch video content online every day. In fact it’s estimated that in 2022, 82% of global internet traffic came from streaming, other video content, and downloads. Video has been a popular form of content for a while now, but in recent years its popularity has truly exploded with the rise of platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels.
Whether it’s a video on your product page or a viral TikTok, video content is huge for brand discovery and engagement. So with that being said, can this mean it has value for your SEO strategy?
Let’s talk about it!
Why videos are so popular with users
So many people say that video content and video marketing are essential, but why exactly is that? In order to start optimizing and planning for its role in SEO, you first want to understand why your customers consume video content in the first place.
Visually rich - There’s no denying that video content is more visual than written content. Users can literally see the topic at hand - if it’s a product use guide then they can see the product itself, a person using it, and what it looks like from different angles even a photo might not capture.
More engaging - Video can really hold a user’s attention in a way written content usually can’t. Rather than reading a whole page of instructions or specs, they can watch a quick video that shows them exactly what to do. This is by its nature much more engaging.
Easily consumable - One of the reasons why short-form video especially has grown in popularity is how easy it is to consume video content. It requires little effort on the part of the viewer, while also giving them the same information they may get from reading a product page or blog.
- Condensed content - While long-form video content can be popular in the right context, there is definitely a preference for short-form - 66% of users say short-form video is the most engaging medium. This can condense an in-depth topic into just a couple of minutes, for example a product review or how-to guide.
The best part is that by creating more video, you give your customers more of what they want. 91% of consumers say they want to see more video content from brands.
Do videos actually contribute to SEO?
Google’s algorithm has been somewhat of an ongoing mystery for years. With so many factors, algorithm tweaks, and updates, it’s hard to know for sure how Google or even other search engines rank content. There are some which are confirmed ranking factors, and others have been gleaned from documents such as Google’s search rater guidelines.
So then what can be said about video and its impact on SEO?
One of the primary ways video can contribute to your SEO as an ecommerce store is through the usefulness the video can provide to users. Useful content is important to Google, and video is a worthwhile addition that gives users more help and context. For example, if on a product page you provide a video showing how the product is actually used. Or if it’s a how-to blog with a video demonstrating the steps involved. According to one survey, 66% of consumers prefer watching a video about a product rather than reading about it.
This content also keeps users more engaged with your website, keeping them onsite longer and making it more likely they’ll explore more. Customers will typically spend 1.4x more time on a page with video than one without. That in turn can send positive signals to Google that the page’s content is worth ranking for different search terms. By adding video into your content, you provide a better user experience and this is valuable to your SEO and search result ranking.
Note - Videos will only take up more SERP space if the video is the main content for that page
You may see advice elsewhere which suggests that having video content makes it more likely that your content will appear as a featured snippet or rich result in SERPs. This was previously true, however in April 2023 Google announced that this would only happen if the video was the main content for a given page. This can still help with your SEO in some cases - say for example if you decide to publish a video with a transcript instead of a blog article. However if the main content is the blog with a video as supplementary content, it won’t appear as a rich result in SERPs.
Short-form video and social media as a search engine
We mentioned earlier the growth of platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels, and this has also given rise to something called “social search”. This is where users turn to these social media platforms instead of search engines for certain queries. In one survey, 50% of respondents aged 16-24 said they use social media to research brands, compared to 46% using search engines.
While we may be focussing today on SEO and how video helps your website, it’s worth thinking about how to optimize for these growing platforms. Your customers may be using social media to discover and research brands in your niche, watching creators review products and exploring brand content. And if you want those customers to take notice of your brand, you can apply some SEO principles to optimizing your social media presence on short-form video platforms.
Consistency in content - Creating and publishing content on a regular basis is the foundation for building your brand. Much like with keeping your site’s content fresh and updated, social media rewards consistency and frequency.
Relevant content - As with content on your site, your social media content will go further the more relevant it is to your target audience. There is a temptation to constantly only create content to keep up with trends, even when they aren’t relevant. Instead, post a mix of content - some should be what we’d call “evergreen” content in SEO, and others should be current trends that fit your brand.
Optimizing for keywords - Keywords are just as important on social media as they are on traditional search engines! On platforms like TikTok, these will usually be found in post captions, hashtags, and on-screen text. These platforms also will “listen” for keywords being used in the audio itself too. To find keywords, you can use the platform’s search function the same way you would Google to start to discover keywords and hashtags relevant to your audience. You can also look at what your competitors and influencers in your space use regularly.
- Understanding your audience - The biggest part of success in using SEO on social media is to know what kind of content your audience actually responds to. Pay close attention to metrics such as user engagement, actions taken such as saving content, and watch time. This will help you better understand what content your should post.
And of course, you want this to lead to conversions off-platform. Make it easy for customers to get to your website from these platforms. This includes using social commerce tactics, such as having a storefront available on the platform itself.
Video is a growing and popular form of content online. This means it’s something that search engines will pay attention to, and how we use it in SEO will adapt. By understanding how it can help your SEO, as well as how to apply SEO tactics to other platforms, you can create a video marketing strategy that catches attention and results in conversions.