In a world where “it depends” is the most popular answer to SEO questions, the answer to the question “does video help SEO” is refreshingly straightforward.
If it’s relevant to the page, the answer is “abso-freaking-lutely.”
There are three primary reasons for this.
1. YouTube is a Search Engine
The stats are overwhelming. Over 2.3 billion people worldwide use YouTube each month to find videos to watch. YouTube accounts for 25% of global mobile traffic. At its core, YouTube is a search engine for video content. All estimates put YouTube as either the second or third most popular search engine after Google.
Now for the bad news: over 500 hours of video are uploaded every minute to YouTube.
Your video content will likely have heavy competition. In fact, an entire methodology exists for optimizing YouTube video titles, descriptions, and tags specifically so they show up in YouTube searches first.
2. Google Uses Videos in Search
Google owns YouTube, and you can bet that they are taking advantage of it. A lot of ‘How to” searches will have videos near the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). If Google’s algorithms decide that searchers for a particular keyword would like to see videos, expect videos to litter the SERPs. Google even uses non-YouTube videos in search, but that requires a trick that will be explained later.
3. Videos Help Rank Website Pages
Available evidence points to a stunning conclusion: adding relevant video footage to a web page can increase that page’s ranking on the SERPs.
Now, we just need SEOs to agree on why this happens.
Some argue that video helps by increasing “dwell time,” the amount of time that someone spends on a page before returning to a SERP. However, there is some debate over how much dwell time impacts SEO.
Another argument is that video is more engaging and thus is more enticing to bloggers who might link to it. Backlinks are an essential ranking factor, but there is no hard evidence showing that video makes it more likely that your page will get backlinks.
A third possibility is that including rich media like video is a direct ranking factor for Google. However, adding irrelevant video footage to a page has little to no impact on SEO which suggests Google does not give rich media an inherent boost.
Finally, some argue that the value of video lies in increasing the traffic or click-through rate on the SERPs. Google has previously denied that increasing the traffic or click-through rate for a search result will impact its ranking. However, quite a few tests contradict Google’s stance.
How to Get Your Video on Google SERPs
If your video is hosted on YouTube then congratulations, that YouTube page is able to appear both in YouTube SERPs as well as Google SERPs. However, if you want a website page to rank for video, there is some work involved even if it is just an embedded YouTube video.
Specifically, you will have to work with video schema markup. Schema markup is a machine-readable language that gives Google a behind-the-scenes look at your content. Schema markup (also known as structured data markup) is responsible for the many types of rich snippets you see. Whenever a Google result has a thumbnail, stars, price, or FAQ box, you can bet that schema markup was involved.
Boost Your SERP Visibility with Key Moments
In 2019, Google introduced “Key Moments” which can split videos up by timestamp. If your video “How to Chop Wood” includes a section where you explain how to find wood, then with some markup you can appear on Google SERPs for “How to chop wood” OR “How to find Wood.”
It’s relatively easy to get Key Moments on YouTube. Google may even do it for you automatically.
However, if you want Key Moments for a video embedded on your website, our good friend schema markup is required.
Relevant Video HElps SEO
The key term here is “relevant.”
All search engine queries have a “search intent” behind them. The query “how to chop wood” has a search intent that is best fulfilled by explaining how to chop wood.
If you want to rank a page for “how to chop wood,” but your video is about sleep apnea, then the video is not addressing the search intent of that query. The consensus is that this will not help SEO. In fact, it may hurt SEO by adding irrelevant topics to a page that was supposed to address search intents related to chopping wood.
Video Strategy Beyond SEO
It would be a mistake to think that video is only beneficial for SEO. Video increases engagement and encourages shares on social media. It helps convert traffic into leads, captures attention, and provides user-friendly ways to digest complex information.
Any of these reasons should be enough to get you to consider incorporating video into your content strategy.
But if that’s not enough, there are always SEO benefits to consider.
Just remember to keep it relevant!