Using video to enhance search

Video has grown, and trust in it is high. But it’s still far from being a saturated market – and these are the gaps that video-valuing marketers have an opportunity to fill.

In many ways, the SEO marketing of today is a reversal of what it used to be just few years ago. Back then SEO was all about building links. Nowadays, as we all know, it is about building content that will attract links. A lot of effort used to get put into building links to what was – in many cases – content that didn’t stand out. Today, however, more effort goes into producing the content itself and making sure it’s relevant, timely, entertaining, factual, unusual – whatever it needs to be to please the user.

The change in SEO content strategy over the years pretty much reflects the priorities of the search engines themselves. And that is to provide the user with the best information for their query – as easily as possible. A big part of this is in making sure user experience is all it can be. In a world of faster connection and more powerful mobile devices, that can often mean offering more than simple, flat text-based content. High quality content + enriched user experiences = great SEO.

Micro Moments and the ocean of mobile searches

Obviously, mobile has grown massively – and changed the marketing world with it. But rather than killing off its bulky big brother, the rise in mobile has instead complemented desktop search. It’s presented us with a growing number of occasions during the day when people might search for something on a mobile device. Now, that is a lot of occasions. From the supermarket queue to the commuter train and even to the living room – think of that moment when your laptop lid’s closed and it’s easier just to search on your phone.

In order to help marketers make sense of the gigantic ocean of mobile searches out there, Google identified a series of key points within the consumer journey: they call them Micro Moments. In a recent Think With Google article entitled Micro Moments are Multiplying, Sridhar Ramaswamy (SVP Ads & Commerce at Google) has this to say:

“Consumers have become more empowered than ever to get what they want, when they want it. Waiting has become a thing of the past. That translates into today's pervasive micro-moment behaviour—immediately turning to a device to know, go, do, and buy.”

The key Micro Moments

Using your device to ‘know, go, do, and buy’ relates to the four key moments Google identify as ‘representing the full range of user needs’. These are:

I-Want-to-Know Moments – user is researching but not yet purchasing

I-Want-to-Go Moments – user is considering buying a product at a local outlet

I-Want-to-Do Moments – user is looking for help with something (e.g. DIY) or trying something new – before or after purchase

I-Want-to-Buy Moments – user is ready to buy, and may need help deciding what or how to purchase

Video content can of course fit in with any of the above Micro Moments and augment your SEO marketing plan. But it’s worth considering which of these are most appropriate for your business before you roll the tape. The most obvious opportunity for many content producers looking to get a start in video would be I Want-to-Do moments.

The reason for this is in the numbers – the sheer volume of people searching for instructional videos has grown – as phone screens get larger. “How to…” searches on YouTube alone grew 70% in 2015, and when you factor in the possibility that video may even account for 80% of consumer IP traffic by 2021, video becomes even more convincing as a route for marketing.

Videos in SERPs

For an idea of the kind of content available, try entering a few “How to…” terms into your favourite search engine, and see how many of them return video content on the first SERP. Here are a few to start with:

How to put shelves up

How to make omelette

How to drive

For each of these, you’ll likely see a set of results that includes video, rather than consists solely of video. And that is the way it should be from a user’s perspective. The result the user picks will obviously depend on where she or he is when performing the search, how much time is available, and so on. One thing that is perhaps surprising is the (fairly extensive) list of “How to” queries that still don’t have video content appearing on the first page in the SERPs.

And there’s where the opportunity lies. Video has grown, and trust in it is high – Google states that ‘48% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from companies whose mobile sites or apps provide instructional video content’. But it’s still far from being a saturated market – and these are the gaps that video-valuing marketers have an opportunity to fill.

Top tips for video clips

Make your video all about the user. And no, we don’t mean that the subject should be the user! It’s all about making user interests the star of the show.

Define your objectives. Are you looking for more traffic, more engagement, deeper content, more leads? While video is all about the user, it also needs to have value for your site. Defining your goals will help to shape the content that you eventually craft for your site. Defining objectives is also a great way of focussing the mind – and that is where great ideas come from.

Don’t fret (too much) about budget. You’d be surprised how a piece of strong, effective video content can be produced without needing the skills (or funds) of a fast-talking film-producer. Which leads me to the next point…

Production values are often about effort rather than outlay. It’s important to make your content as good as it can be, regardless of how limited your resources are. You think that sounds a tad obvious? I’d agree, except that the internet is littered with video clips, on commercial sites, where nobody has bothered to place the microphone (or even the camera) in the best place to capture anything clear or worth the user even consuming.

Video content – a summary

The synopsis, then: search engines prioritise content around users and their requirements – and while ‘flat’ content absolutely has its place, the rise in video consumption means that people (with their ever-more powerful mobile devices) are increasingly looking for a mix of content beyond text.

Crafting content around users’ needs is of course a challenge. And knowing where to start can often be the biggest challenge of all. But Google’s Micro Moments provide a really useful segmentation of the things that drive queries as well as the contexts they’re formed in.

The most important point to bear in mind is that if your video content is useful and relevant for the user, then it is something search engines will want to feature prominently within their results pages.

In this respect, video content doesn’t really differ from any of the other things you produce. Focus on relevance and quality and who knows? You may end up with the internet’s next piece of hot blockbusting viral content.

Lights, camera … action!