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7 min read

Search Love: The Why and How of Creating Video Content for Search – Justin Briggs

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Often when we talk about video optimisation, we’re talking about featured snippets, that small portion of search results with video. Which, Justin says, is a topic he could smash up on the Search Love stage – but it doesn’t tell a complete story.

He shared a result for ‘how to paint a room’, where only one result has a video in it, but when you click through, 9 of the top 10 have videos in them. Google’s got the information and ability to provide the thumbnail in the SERPs but for some reason, isn’t. We need to recognise the difference between the video being on our page, and the video being in the SERPs.

Which means we can’t limit ourselves to thinking about videos in terms of rich snippets. Because we know Google doesn’t always recognise or use our video in the SERPs.

So what Google is doing is ranking a video page as we know it, plus pages with videos embedded in it. We can see this when we review the web search tab vs the video search tab – those same pages appear in both.

We’re therefore seeing Google looking at how much video intent a query has, and then weighting video content accordingly.


Well, says Justin, it’s not to do with links or authority or anything like that. In order to rank for a keyword which Google sees as having a high video intent, if you din’t have a video on your page, you’re going to struggle.

He proves this by looking at the video search tab, where the top results there are also the top results in the web search.

On mobile, this is even more pronounced, where video galleries are very visible and push organic results down. You can get a disproportionately larger visibility by ranking for video. It’s no surprise, says Justin, that the future of search is visual and voice driven.

Together with his business partner, Justin conducted an experiment and found that people under 35 prefer video content, and those over 35 prefer text. We need to think about video for those younger users – who will get older!

So how do we make sure that video is more of our overall content strategy?

Identifying video intent

There are certain types of keywords that tend to have video intent, e.g:

  • How to
  • Reviews

You can also look at tools like SEMRush where your domain ranks and where YouTube is the top results, and look for the keywords for which you don’t yet have video. You can also run YouTube through SEMRush to find keywords where they rank highly or with more than one keyword, which is a signal of strong video intent.

Also, try extracting competitor external links pointing to YouTube to get a list of all their YouTube videos, then Screaming Frog with an xpath query to extract details like titles and potential keywords. You can then feed these back into SEMRush to work out where these rank.

Try YTCockpit for your video keyword research – it’s like SEMRush or STAT for videos. It will give you some insights into view numbers, too.

Video ideation

It’s worth noting that video content is very exact match. The video won’t really rank for sub terms, it ranks for its title or primary keywords. There’s not a lot of data for Google to work with – really just the title and description – so what you need to think about is how you can create bite sized videos for specific questions.

Be very granular with your video content.

You might think, for example, about the term ‘how to paint a room’. You create a video for that query, but then you break tat down through editing to create granular videos about ‘how to clean a paintbrush’, ‘how to use a roller’, etc.

Google is actually now trying to point users to a specific time point in a video for the answer to their question, so we know this is where Google is trying to go.

YouTube now has automatic captions on 1 billion videos – which Justin suggests is proving that Google is actively driving forward its video indexing. They’re also talking about different entities and how they represent those. It’s able to use natural language processing in its captioning, which is huge!

It’s even able to bring in knowledge graph to YouTube results, e.g. for a video of the Seattle Seahawks, it brings up that video, with related searches to the Seahawks, with Seahawks in the news – where it’s been able to spot the same entity in another video.

YouTube is huge. 1.5 billion viewers with an average 1 hour on site. Check out this post from Brian Dean on YouTube ranking factors or these videos from Derral Eves for more on YouTube search.

  1. Watch time is impressions x CTR x retention x duration – so you need to work on all these elements to drive greater watch time
  2. Optimise watch time by keyword; watch time is keyword specific, so your ranking is affected by however many videos are ranking for that keyword
  3. Use YTCockpit for YouTube SERP analysis to understand the metrics of the top 10
  4. Optimise video with TubeBuddy, which is a Chrome extension which will show you metrics for videos you watch
  5. Use Tubebuddy for side by side comparisons between your video and those outranking you
  6. Featured snippets using YouTube; we think a lot about descriptions in videos, but we don’t think about to use it for traditional organic search – answer the target question within your video description to try to win the featured snippet placement
  7. Don’t go too broad with your keyword tags; the broader they are, the less they trust is – your tags have a better weight when they are granular and topic specific
  8. Use playlists to target keywords (using your own and other videos)
  9. Hack CoWatch behaviour for recommended views – look at the related videos to see what Google sees people who watch this also watch, giving your insight into your customers and what you can do to manipulate that
  10. Use on page for early related views
  11. Strategically optimise tags; think about shared keywords between your videos, and use that one tag consistently across all your relevant videos, to drive that CoWatch data – consider including typos too
  12. Use playlists for keyword targeting
  13. Use end screen for CoWatch – if you can drive someone to watch another video, you’ll create that relationship – create end cards across all your historical videos to promote a hero piece of content
  14. Use Tubebuddy to bulk update cards and end screens
  15. Drive attention to hero content at launch; you can have a pop up come up to promote another video at the point where most people drop off the video, to increase dwell time
  16. Use programmatic strategies; hack human behaviour, not just the platform – consider creating habitual behaviour, e.g. Whiteboard Fridays, to encourage people to come back and to create that CoWatch relationship, so instead of creating one, create a series. Also think about grouping your content by theme
  17. Hack your publication sequence; videos have an implicit CoWatch relationship when they are published next to each other in time, so think about publishing in content chunks
  18. Hack YouTube internal links
  19. Thumbnails turn impressions into views
  20. Formula to carry your audience through the video; keep the video moving, keep them aware of what the topic you’re covering is, but assume familiarity – don’t spend ages introducing yourself
  21. Leverage existing SEO success; Lowes is a great example of driving views by putting your videos on high traffic pages – when Justin asked Google is views on embeds have any less weight, he said no, but embedded viewers are much less likely to view a second video
  22. YouTube using external data like links and referrals for its ‘trending’ area