Make Your Videos Shine in Google SERP and Boost Your YouTube Strategy

Written by
Svetlana Shchehel
Apr 30, 2022
12 min read

As online video consumption is steadily growing, 86% of businesses added video content production to their marketing mix. Videos are capable of boosting user engagement, taking the load off the support team, building user communities, attracting qualified leads, and even driving sales. 

This can be achieved through video distribution across multiple channels. One of such channels that is often overlooked is SEO.

Today, more and more videos find their way into the SERPs, especially on mobile. According to the statistics, 27.92% of mobile SERPs in the US contain a video. The numbers are even more impressive in the European markets: 32.03% in Germany, 32.97% in the UK, and a staggering 37.36% in Spain.

Stats on videos on SERPs

When googling a popular how-to query, in most cases, you’ll get a SERP that looks like this:

I bet you wouldn’t mind securing a spot for your video in such a SERP. To do so, you’ll need to sync your video marketing and SEO initiatives.

And the first step will be finding the right topics to address. 

I’ll show you how this can be done with the help of SE Ranking. 

Find topics to cover in your video

How do you generate your video ideas? Perhaps you draw inspiration from your product. Or maybe you create videos based on customers’ requests.

To gain extra SERP visibility, you’ll have to embrace a different approach. 

Google favors videos for certain queries and sticks to the classic blue links for other keywords. SE Ranking’s tools can help you find the right search queries.

Create videos for the keywords you already rank for

Finding the right keywords is easy with the Competitive Research tool. Out of all the keywords your site ranks for, it will single out those with videos in the SERP. 

Simply enter your website URL into the search box and scroll the dashboard to the SERP Features section. 

Click the Video tab, and you’ll get a lengthy list of keywords. Your site ranks for all these keywords. Plus, they trigger a SERP featuring videos.

Keywords with videos in SERP

To make your way through a bulky list of keywords, you can use filters.

For example, you can restrict search volume range to get rid of too-general queries and those that can bring very little traffic, which are not worth your while.

You can also exclude some topics you don’t want to cover in your videos.

Excluded keywords

Another option is to find keywords that aren’t making it to the top-10 and try to grab the spot on Google’s first page with quality videos.

Keywords out of the top-10

You can also indicate a broader topic that is already on your content marketing calendar. The tool will hint as to what people are searching for.

Keywords with certain queries

A great thing about the tool is that you can always check out the SERP and the exact videos it features. Just click the three dots next to a particular keyword and check Live results.

Live results button

This way, you’ll know which videos you’ll have to compete with.

Find brand-new topics for your videos 

It is also possible that your website doesn’t still rank for some keywords that could make a great video. For a limitless pool of topic ideas, go to SE Ranking’s Keyword Research. There, you’ll find millions of queries people Google regularly. And, naturally, many of them trigger video snippets. 

Start by entering any of the search queries related to your business that come to your mind. In the example below, the keyword I entered doesn’t contain a video snippet in the SERP. But once I go to the Similar keywords report, I’ll surely find plenty of video opportunities. 

Video ideas with Keyword Research

Use filters to single out keywords that trigger a video snippet. As always, you can filter out keywords with a certain search volume.

Video-triggering keywords

Finally, there’s a pro tip I want to share with you. If your niche is not-so-video-rich as the crafts industry I used as an example, you can create videos for keywords that don’t yet feature a video in the SERP but may probably soon.

Paste a keyword that triggers a video snippet into the Keyword Research tool and look for keywords of the same cluster. As a rule, if the SERP is dominated by video content for some keywords of the cluster, other keywords will follow the lead over time. This gives you a heads up to create respective videos and have better chances to make your way to the SERP in the future.

Make your videos stand out in Google

Finding topics that could grant you a sweet SERP spot is easy with SE Ranking. The hard part is making Google favor your videos over others and putting them at the top of the SERP.

Google keeps silent about the exact algorithms it uses, but it is generally believed that videos that are popular on YouTube have better chances of being featured on Google. 

Also, a small portion of videos hosted directly on the websites also make it to the video snippets. To make this happen, you’ll need to use special video Schema markup.

You have better chances to conquer the SERP by boosting your YouTube presence. So, the next part of this article will focus on adapting your videos to YouTube’s latest algorithms.

I’ll briefly go over basic tips that will help you get more traction on YouTube. And for those of you who feel like you’ve had enough reading for today, here’s SE Ranking’s recent webinar replay. 

Greg Jarboe will guide you on how to optimize your videos for Search and Discovery in 10 steps: 

Create powerful titles and descriptions

From its early days, YouTube search ranking algorithms largely relied on keyword placement within the video title and description. Today, the way you optimize your titles and descriptions still matters. Thus, make sure to:

  • Create an enticing title that will grab viewers’ attention. At the same time, avoid using clickbait phrases or titles that mislead users. YouTube doesn’t like misleading techniques, and such videos are less likely to make it to YouTube recommendations.
  • Keep your title under 50 characters to make sure it properly fits on mobile screens.
  • Add your main keyword to the title and put it closer to the start of the title. Also, use the video description to feature your secondary keywords.
  • Use natural conversational language in the video description. Start the description with the most important information that is visible immediately, but don’t neglect the opportunity to fit all the details—and extra keywords—into the part of the description that is hidden under the Show more button. 
  • Add up to 15 hashtags to your video description to help users find you when looking for particular information.

Optimize thumbnails for better CTR

Today, most people watch YouTube on mobile devices, and the fastest growing portion of YouTube traffic comes from connected TVs. The two devices have one thing in common—users don’t see video descriptions when browsing, all they get is a title and a thumbnail. 

The thumbnail takes up a great deal of space, which turns it into a powerful tool of capturing viewers’ attention. Whether they click or pass by largely depends on the story told by the thumbnail. 

To get the much desired click, you’ll need to:

  • Upload a custom thumbnail instead of going for what YouTube offers.
  • Add text to your thumbnail—this is your chance to make it clear what the video is about.
  • Consider incorporating a human element into your thumbnail (both a picture of you and an image of a human hand will do). A study suggests that thumbnails with a human element tend to perform better.
  • Use sure-fire photography solutions—follow the rule of thirds to draw users’ attention to the most important elements of the thumbnail. 
  • Remember about resolution and aspect ratio—using 1280 x 720 pixels images with 16:9 aspect ratio is a must.

Provide users with quality subtitles

YouTube automatically generates subtitles, so most content makers don’t bother adding built-in subtitles to their videos. After all, creating and adding them takes time. 

Unfortunately, YouTube’s voice recognition algorithms are not that perfect, and depending on the quality of the sound, speaker’s accent, and speech pace, the quality of the automatically generated subtitles varies from brilliant to poor.

The choice is yours, but if you want to reap all the benefits subtitles bring, it’s better to use dedicated software or create your subtitles manually. And here’s what you can get as a reward:

  • Videos with quality subtitles have a chance to make it to video featured snippets that are placed right at the top of the SERP, taking up the whole first screen. Google chooses videos that contain a fast answer to users’ queries. The part of the video featuring the answer is conveniently highlighted, so once you hit play, the video will start at the exact point you need. A short transcription of the answer is also included in the video snippet.
Featured video clip

Thanks to subtitles, which, preferably, should also contain a keyword, it is easier for Google to grasp the ideas shared in the video and to single out a relevant video snippet.

  • If you use your videos on social media as well, subtitles will help you attract users’ attention. The thing is most people scroll their feed on mute, so videos with no subtitles will make little sense to them. Subtitles can make a big difference and ensure that users won’t entirely miss the ideas you were trying to convey.

Make viewers stick around

Have you ever hit the play button with the intention to watch a short video, then realized a couple of hours later that you’ve spent all the time binge-watching YouTube? If so, you are YouTube’s perfect customer. The service strives to keep users watching videos for as long as possible. 

The average YouTube session duration is 13.2 minutes. If that doesn’t sound impressive, mind that YouTube has managed to outperform Netflix, being second on the list, right after Amazon Prime.  

To make sure users stick around, YouTube pays attention to multiple factors. It doesn’t only matter if users watch your video and award it with their likes. 

It also matters when your video is shown to the users, but they choose not to watch it. And it matters if users do click the video but leave within a few minutes. 

Here’s what you can do to please YouTube algorithms:

  • Use the first 5 to 10 seconds of the video to make viewers stay. Hook them by summarizing the key moments of your video—be it important thoughts or funny situations.
  • Add timestamps to help users get straight to the parts of your video they’re interested in. Also, if your video makes it to YouTube, timestamps will help Google highlight the video’s key moment. Top video’s key moments are visible immediately, while other videos have them hidden under the Key Moments bar.
Key moments bar
  • Encourage users to interact with your video. Ask them to give it a like and to leave their comments. Also, remind viewers to subscribe and to hit the bell button to get notified about the new awesome content you upload to your channel.
  • Add links to other related videos on your channel and encourage people to watch them. If users start binge-watching videos on your channel, this will send extremely positive ranking signals to YouTube.
  • Create playlists of related videos. They make it even easier to make users stay longer.
  • Develop a content calendar and upload new videos on specific days. That way, your most loyal viewers will know when new content should be expected and will fit new videos into their daily plans.

Adapting to the everchanging YouTube algorithms may seem daunting. You’ll need to keep up with the tech part, learning quickly how to use new features like timestamps or cards to your advantage. 

But after all, the most important thing that can either make it or break it hasn’t changed since the very first silent videos were shown to the public. What matters first and foremost is the quality of a video and whether it is worth watching. 

Luckily, at least one thing about conquering the SERP with top-notch videos is easy: finding the right topics to target. SE Ranking’s Competitive Research will help you accomplish this task with flying colors. The tool will also come in handy with plenty of other SEO and marketing tasks such as:

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