Video optimisation for inclusion in Universal Search is one of the most unknown topics in the SEO field. We know that if we optimise our video properly, the video gets watched by a reasonable amount of people and is rated and commented, we might have the chance of ranking for blended results in SERPs, but that is as far as our knowledge reaches.
Video results tend to dominate in Universal Search results according to Comscore, and video optimisation is a great opportunity to be able to leverage all your digital assets and get people to know more about your site, from different channels. But how Google decides whether or not to include universal search results for a particular query?
Danny Sullivan wrote an interesting article back in the day when Universal Search was in its first year of active performance. According to him, what Google does is to compare rankings and relevance among different vertical before producing the SERP. That means that Google will only add a video to the results page if it is more relevant than a text page. Considering that Google is actually unable to determine what is in the video, it is very unlikely that your video will outrank a HTML page.
So what is the point then? Interesting question. There is only as much as you can do to optimise a video. In Youtube you can ensure that you fit the keywords in the title, write a keyword rich description, use a descriptive filename and relevant tags…but that is all you can do really. How can you compete with a fully formed HTML page with hundreds of words related to the main term?
Take this video for instance. It is trying to rank for the keyword prison hotels, the text is catchy and descriptive and the description keyword rich. It is hardly a very competitive keyword, although funnily enough the search volume is of almost 3600 people searching for that specific term monthly.
So far, so good. The video ranks first in Youtube and Google video after a week of being uploaded for the before mentioned keyword. That tells us that the optimisation work paid off. But is there any chance of being ranked in the main index results?
There are only 900 pages properly optimised for prison hotels, and aside the first 5 results, the rest is highly less relevant for the query than the aforementioned video. Some of them are results talking about hotels in the proximity of a prison but not former prisons that are hotels, which is the information searched by the user.
Reality here is, that despite being a great way to use your digital assets for additional reach, videos are only likely to rank for very long tail/low volume keywords or queries with the word “video” in it. We know that video attracts the user and engage them longer than text results. We know that, so far, the number of videos in the index is minimal in comparison with text. There are windows of opportunity there for clever marketers, but our ignorance about the algorithm and a, in my opinion, flawed approach of Google when it comes down to ranking blending results, makes it only a nice to have SEO strategy rather than a must have.
What do you think?