How to Use Video to Improve Google Ranking & Conversions

    January 15, 2009
    Chris Crum

Online video is consuming the web as we know it whether you like it or not. Some prefer text content over video in most cases, and that’s ok too. I don’t think text is going anywhere, but demand for video is on the rise from both consumers, and businesses looking to stay on top of their marketing. Just like not all text is great, not all video is great, but when done well, I think you will find that it offers plenty of reward.

Content and Reputation

Bad videos are a turn off for viewers. They must have value. Otherwise they’ll be viewed as a waste of time. If viewers see your videos as a waste of time, this is generally going to equate to wasted time on your part as well, and chances are that you put a whole lot more time into your videos than any viewer will. But even worse, if your videos are perceived as a waste of time by viewers, it’s going to reflect negatively on your brand, or at the very least upon your ability to offer useful and informative content.

Remember, while the rise in online video popularity is certainly evident, many people would just as soon obtain the information they’re looking for with text. In fact, this is a good reason to offer truly unique content with your videos. Developing a reputation for having solid unique content with them will give people a reason to watch them. The best videos provide a user experience that simply can’t be duplicated in text.

Robert Scoble cited a good example in a recent post. "Text is easier to consume. Easier to search. All that stuff. But here, let’s try something. You take 1,000 words to explain to me what the next game from EA looks like. I’ll do it in a minute or two of video. The video will beat your blog every time," he declares.

Length is often a factor. As a rule, people generally do not want to watch lengthy videos unless they are either entertaining or truly useful to them. From a business standpoint, I believe you are going to have greater success with making the content as useful as possible in as little amount of time as possible.

Grant CrowellVideo Usability

Grantastic Designs Founder Grant Crowell writing for ReelSEO has a great article/podcast on web video usability. He discusses the need for video providers to have some kind of usability standards. In his article, Crowell talks about some factors that should be taken into consideration when providing video content:

– Location
– Features
– Testing

By location, he means, where it is being viewed. Is it being viewed on a website or in a stand-alone player? Is it on your own site or is it being viewed in an embedded player on someone else’s? Do you even offer the ability to embed your videos?

Apart from embedding availability, features of the video include things like the player itself, the navigation of that player, accessibility, search, image and audio quality, length, content, speed (buffering), conversions, and completion. Videos should also be tested. This means: lab testing, user testing, and analytics.

Engagement and Google

In Crowell’s article, he also talks about the engagement factor of videos. Being how user-engagement is of growing importance (and will likely continue to be as SERPs evolve), I wanted to hear some more of his thoughts on this, so I contacted him and we had a little chat. Following is what came of that:

Chris Crum: You refer to engagement as an active state, and I agree, but what kind of actions do you expect videos to inspire? Comments? Conversions?

Grant Crowell: The actions ultimately depend on the business model of the video owner. But the potential with video is far greater at engagement and conversions than with static content. The first step is getting attention. After that it can serve as a direct response or lead, or buzz (going viral), or branding.

Even within the video, you can have several calls-to-action, all clickable and with additional actionable items from them. (See our latest video interview at ReelSEO on Mixpo, for more on this.

"Conversions" can be both mini and macro, depending again on what are the business objectives of the video owner. A comment could likely be a mini-conversion. A hundred comments and 3rd party link popularity and buzz, well that could be a macro-conversion.

CC: SEO Bruce Clay recently speculated that as SERPs evolve, videos might make a difference in ranking. For example if two competing businesses have content of basically equal value, but only one of them has video, the one with video might be favored. How important do you think it’s going to be for businesses to offer some kind of video content on their sites?

GC: Video itself can be given an almost "unfair advantage" in the SERPs. We’ve demonstrated that at ReelSEO with how we’re able to have our own image icons show up from our videos for search results — directly from our site (not YouTube). I’ve even done a case study to show how [in] a video series I did on YouTube, the targeted keywords had my image icons show up higher that the entire local and regional media stories.

Google Video Icon

I believe the search engines, especially Google, consider video to have higher engagement potential than static content. Even when the external link popularity may not be great, just putting up new regular videos can show up right away, and at the top, of search results. I’ve seen it happen many times before

This is something that can be heavily abused however, it’s a weak spot with the search engines for determining quality standards of relevancy around video.

It is extremely important for businesses to offer video content on their own sites, both for search visibility and usability purposes. (Search visibility I would consider to be a part of usability, too.)

Not just on their own site, but [also] popular and relevant video sharing sites. There are websites starting to come out that are behaving a little more like video hubs for the SMB crowd. is one such example for the B2B audience. For the B2C audience, eHow and are good examples.


But the issue of usability is a tricky one since there are no real standards yet for both content and delivery.

I want to thank Grant for taking the time to talk to me about this (emphasis added), and I think he had some very interesting things to say that should encourage those looking to break into online video or expand their efforts. Grant’s company Grantastic Designs has been in the search marketing game for a long time, and he is clearly well-versed in the ways of search.