Video Essentials

9 Video SEO Myths — Busted!

Video continues to build steam with higher visibility in Google and other search engine results, and analyst publications like eMarketer report brands are spending more of their budget in SEO and web video campaigns. Yet myths still persist over what marketers they think will help with their Google rankings and search traffic for videos and video pages. Besides being unhelpful, some of these practices will actually hurt search rankings.

It’s time to separate facts from fiction and dispel the myths behind video SEO, so that companies’ money and time is well-spent.

Myth #1: It Has to “Go Viral”
Fact: Targeted Videos Do Better

Many brands suffer from “Viral Video Mentality,” thinking that high video view counts equal success. Yet, effective video SEO campaigns are actually based on the same smart strategies that traditional SEO uses – keyword optimization geared for the short tail. As YouTube’s group product manager Baljeet Singh says in an article for NBC5 Chicago, a lot of videos are successful that don’t have high view counts, and small businesses need to know where to find success through metrics other than views. Bottom line: Video SEO is much more effective when it’s meant to reach smaller, targeted audiences than a general large audience. That strategy provides more helpful data with how to tweak future video SEO campaigns.

Myth #2: Companies Need Professionally Produced Videos
Fact: They Need “Business-Quality” Videos

Search engines don’t care how much money was spent producing the video. Most small businesses, and even many medium and larger enterprises, shoot and produce videos in-house with simple equipment, sometimes just with smartphones and webcams. What makes those businesses successful with video SEO is how well they understand their audiences’ needs, including questions about what they’re selling and topics relevant to the brand. As Singh says, since you can focus on reaching people through video SEO that are most interest in your topic, “content and production trump production value.”

Myth #3: Video SEO Is Different from Regular SEO
Fact: Video SEO is Just an Extension of Regular SEO

As ReelSEO’s publisher Mark Robertson says, “Optimizing video for search engines isn’t its own discipline, but simply an extension of SEO. Standard website SEO best practices such as well-planned navigation, site structure, internal site links, and title tags are important to drive traffic to your website. Once you have a well optimized website, then your video results should rank better as a matter of course.”

Myth #4: Set it and Forget it
Fact: “Stale” Video Content Leads to Rotten Search Visibility

As this site pointed out with Google’s Fresh Updates, not updating a website with new videos — along with new text and landing pages around those videos — can lead to a serious demotion in Google’s search rankings. Bottom line: Websites must feature new and relevant video content prominently throughout the site for the best likelihood of strong performance Google’s search rankings. When new videos are added to a website on a fairly consistent basis, even something as simple as a blog post, that sends a signal to the search engines to keep your other already-indexed website videos intact in their search rankings.

Myth #5: Mastering Search Engine Algorithms Is the Key to Success
Fact: Social Signals Factor More and More in Video SEO

Google’s director of product management on search, Sagmar Kamdar, stresses that social signals are an increasingly weighted factor in search results. Google’s social technologies are also allowing for more recent and relevant videos to appear at the top of search queries. Simply put, shares of videos matter in Google rankings. That’s why for video SEO, rather than chasing search engine algorithms, dedicate more time to providing interesting and relevant videos in a good user experience that makes people want to share. Make sure company website videos are shareable through social widgets for Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest.

Myth #6: It’s All About YouTube
Fact: Website Video SEO Is the Priority

There is no doubt that YouTube has been a great advantage to marketers (especially SEO specialists) with video content, yet specialists like Robertson agree that video SEO should first be about optimizing the brand website and video on that site. “If you’re doing video SEO, learn to optimize your website first and make that your number one priority, and then do YouTube for your video SEO,” says Robertson.

Myth #7: YouTube Cannibalizes Website Video SEO
Fact: Uploading Video to YouTube Compliments Website Video SEO

Some brands are still adverse to doing a YouTube channel, believing in the “YouTube Cannibalization Theory” — that by putting video up on YouTube, they risk having that YouTube video outrank the video on their own website landing page. The truth is, Google page rank studies conducted in the retail industry show that YouTube serves as free traffic to the brand’s own product pages, especially when YouTube allows for those videos to include call-to-actions right in the video with overlay ads, and with hotlinked URLs in the description field — both of which can point directly to the brand’s website landing page of choice.

Myth #8: Search Engines View the Same Video on Different Sites as Spam
Fact: The Same Video Can Get Indexed with High Page Rank on Multiple Sites

Brands can feature the same original video content on their own website; on YouTube, Vimeo, other video delivery networks; and other content publishing sites — all of which can all show up prominently in search results. The key is to change up the metadata on each video, and to make sure there’s unique and relevant content on each landing page around that video.

Myth #9: Stick With What You Post the First Time
Fact: Experiment With New Titles for Original Videos

“Creating titles that work for both search and social can be done from time to time, but keep in mind that you can always go back and re-title your videos,” says Roberston. “So, after a few days when your subscribers and followers have seen your video, it’s okay to go back and optimize titles more so for search.” Remember that it’s fine to experiment with titles to see what works best.


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  1. I really like what you’ve posted here and outlined the facts against the myths. The key is to get video out….especially since Cisco made the bold prediction that within 3 years 90% of web traffic will be video traffic. Now is the time to get ahead of the curve.

    Posted by Kyle Clouse | October 12, 2012, 4:14 pm
    • Actually, I just checked the 2011 Cisco report, and they appeared to have made some adjustments to their previous prediction. They’re now saying that video totals 51% of all internet traffic worldwide, and is poised to grow to 56% of all internet traffic by 2016. That appears to be a far more modest prediction that I believe what came from their previous year’s report, but I’ll look into their white paper further on that.

      Posted by Grant Crowell | October 12, 2012, 5:37 pm
  2. Great point you make there, Kyle! Here’s a link to the original Cisco report:

    Posted by Grant Crowell | October 12, 2012, 5:25 pm
  3. Here’s some more evidence to dispel myth #5. YouTube just announced it is changing its search ranking algorithm to highlight videos that keep viewers engaged.

    Posted by Grant Crowell | October 13, 2012, 8:50 am
  4. While I agree with Mr. Crowell that video quality and SEO have nothing to do with each other per se, I would offer his readers the following caveat: A video that adheres to production standards with regard to content, camera focus, framing, lighting, clean sound and properly spelled graphics will present a far more professional brand image to viewers than something slapped together with spit and a web cam. In other words, a professionally produced video, done not so much with expensive equipment, but by someone who knows effective production techniques.

    Great post otherwise.

    Posted by Peter Frahm | October 16, 2012, 6:11 pm
  5. Great points, Grant. Quick question: I was never able to add an anotation with a direct link to a website, is it really possible?

    I manage to put a link to another YouTube video, but that’s it 🙁


    Posted by Sylvain Gauchet | November 15, 2012, 10:57 am
    • Hi Sylvain: Annotations only allow for a link to another YouTube URL. However you can do YouTube advertising and have an overlay with a link to a non-YouTube URL. That’s an in-video option. You can also include a hotlink URL in your description field, which is outside the video player itself. Hope that’s helpful!

      Posted by Grant Crowell | November 15, 2012, 11:34 am
  6. Thanks Grant!

    Posted by Sylvain | November 21, 2012, 7:56 pm
  7. Although the videos don’t have to be professional, they certainly have to be informative with best practices: opt-in or call to action, etc. I see too many vids on the serps (search engine results pages) of people throwing garbage at it. No one bites even the though search volume for those keywords might be high.

    Posted by SEO Company Daytona Beach | May 8, 2013, 2:25 pm
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