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The Dawn of a New Video-Centric SEO Approach

Is traditional SEO dead? The answer is Yes, and No. SEO has evolved due to ever changing algorithms from Google. Gone are the days of keyword spamming and all out link building. Traditional SEO can still work but it takes patience. It may mean months of investments in time and tinkering to hopefully see some organic results that usually sit below paid Google AdWords, video results, and other information competing for the user’s attention. It is due not only to Google algorithm updates, but also the other major change that has occurred in recent years, the revamp of Google’s search results page.

Revamped Google search results page

It used to be that on a Google search results page you could only see organic textual rankings with the only competition being the occasional Google AdWords ad that appeared at the top. Nowadays the Google first page has a lot more going on depending on your search query. Besides the traditional textual search results, you see Google Ads, video results, images, shopping results, Google My Business Pages, Related Questions and more.

Why today’s SEO is still important

According to a study by Bright Edge, organic traffic is responsible for more than 51% of all traffic to websites, more than any other sources such as paid (14%) and social (5) traffic.

• People use “Google” when they are looking to buy products or services. For most people Google is the starting point to look for information, products, or services when they need them.
• Organic results are highly targeted in terms of user intent. For example, a users searching for an “auto repair shop in Hartford” are likely looking to get their car fixed. Google’s search results play a big role in discovering a store or service to meet that need. The same is true for product-related searches such as “used 2019 Honda Accord” in which case users are looking to buy an exact product.
• The long-term benefits of SEO makes it more cost effective. Once you’re ranked on the first page, you can enjoy being on the first page for a long time assuming you don’t make major changes.
• Increased sales – Being ranked high on the first page brings more customers to your site. The rest is up to you.
• Organic local results are critical. 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles.
• Ranking matters – being ranked #1 gets around 21% of clicks, with #2 and #3 with about 10% and 7.5% respectively. So, ranking high is critical in growing your organic traffic.

As you can see SEO is still very important. However, with the revamped Google search results page, you have to adjust your SEO strategy and target your SEO efforts based on how Google prioritizes the first page results.

Utilizing a three-pronged SEO strategy: video SEO, video sitemapping, and Google My Business posts

We are going to look into how this three-pronged SEO strategy can be used by an automotive dealer to help drive traffic to their website.

Video SEO Results

Videos in Google search results appear for certain keywords when Google decides video to be useful for that particular search term. As illustrated below, this is the case when a consumer is searching for a vehicle they are in looking to get more information on or to buy.

In the example above, you can see how video results are shown above textual search results on the first page. As mentioned previously being ranked on top of the search results page pays big dividends in terms of organic traffic.
Google recently changed how they show video results. Instead of a carousel, you now have a list type result showing only a handful of video results. When clicking on the “View all” link the user is taken to the “Videos” tab where more video results are shown. This is important because now the video tab will get more traffic due to this recent change.

If you look more closely at these video results, you may notice that all the video results are showing YouTube videos. That is no accident. Google does own YouTube after all and makes a ton of money selling ads on YouTube.

How to optimize your YouTube videos for high Google rankings

Here are some things you should do to create an optimized YouTube video:
1. Words spoken in the video – Google can extract some limited meaning from the audio and video of the file. It is therefore important to have descriptive voice over to describe the vehicle. When you have auto generated closed captioning that’s easy to read you can confirm that there is a clear and descriptive voice over.
2. Optimize your Metadata: Title and description
a. Include your primary keyword in your title and description. In this case the year, make, and model of the vehicle.
b. Also, we find that adding a detailed description in the video helps with the ranking especially for long tail searches such as “Honda Accord heated seats”
3. Create an enticing thumbnail – Don’t use the auto generated thumbnail by YouTube that usually only shows the interior shot of the car. Instead grab an exterior shot of the vehicle to use as the thumbnail. It is much more engaging.

Video Sitemapping

To provide the appearance of fairness, Google officially encourages websites to use schema for video to help Googlebot index your videos on your website.

In order to expose a video in search results, Google must understand something about the video. Google can extract information about a video in the following ways:
• Google can crawl the video and extract a thumbnail and preview.
• Google can extract information from the page hosting the video, including the page text and meta tags
• Google can use structured data such as a video sitemap associated with the video.
Google provides its own detailed guide on how to setup a video sitemap for your site.
Once a sitemap is setup properly, Googlebot will be able to crawl and index the videos on your site and the results can be amazing! Here’s an example of a first page video search result that links directly to a dealer’s website and not to YouTube.

However, Google is still not quite playing fair. These direct to website video results only appear on the video tab and not on the All tab on Google. Google is still favoring showing YouTube video results in the All tab results page.

Google My Business Posts to capture local search traffic

Now that you’re able to optimize your YouTube videos and the videos on your website for first page results, the third component in this approach is to capture local search through the business’ Google My Business (GMB) page. If you’re a business Google will automatically show on the right-side information about the business establishment such as hours of operations, address, and contact info. If you’re the owner of the business you can claim the GMB listing shown for your company.

The GMB page captures a great deal of local traffic. People searching for a business name are looking to contact the store in one form or another. Like a physical store, the GMB page is the virtual store front for your business. Google allows you to post information about your product on your GMB.
In our example, an automotive dealer can post a few vehicles to showcase on their GMB page similar to parking a few cars in front of the store front to attract foot traffic.
Using the GMB dashboard the business owner can easily make these posts. GMB allows you to upload videos as well as photos when creating these posts.

These GMB posts get hundreds of views within days of being posted, proving that you have to leverage the your GMB page as much as possible to help draw traffic to your website.

To Sum It Up

So here you have it. SEO is not dead, but the old SEO techniques are! Today’s Google Search results page is extremely dynamic and provides a lot of information to the user. It’s important to remember that:
• Video gets priority real estate over textual results for search terms that warrant video results. In our example, Google deems video results to be important when searching for cars.
• A business’s Google My Business page is shown prominently when users search for a particular business.
• Google is smarter and more sophisticated now. It has gotten better at distinguishing between high-quality content from poorly optimized content.
You will need to use new optimization methods in order to take advantage of the ongoing changes Google makes to their algorithm, as well as ,to the changes Google makes to the visual aspect of the search results page (SERP).
Using the techniques described in this article will allow you to take advantage on how Google works today and make it work in your favor. Here are additional benefits of using this three-pronged approach:
• It delivers faster, more immediate results compared with traditional textual SEO. Video results shows up within days in Google search results compared to months for traditional SEO.
• Delivers long-term results. The competition for video results is far less intense compared to textual results. Besides getting ranked fairly quickly, once you rank high you can reap the rewards for a long time.
• It can save you money by spending less on pay-per-click ads like Google Adwords.

Start today and invest in video SEO and Google My Business for local traffic to get long-term, reliable traffic that will lead to more sales and loyal customers!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.