A common question we get from our clients is whether adding a video to their homepage will help their site perform better in search results. The short answer is: possibly, but probably not in the way you think it will.
The long answer is:
Videos don’t have a direct impact on page’s ability to rank
Putting a video on your homepage won’t automatically shoot you up to the top of the rankings. There isn’t a special part of Google’s algorithm that looks at whether or not you have a video on your homepage to decide where your site should rank.
In fact, one of the drawbacks on using video is that search engines aren’t able to tell what the video is about without some help from you. That’s why you often see video transcripts accompanying video blog posts. This gives search engines the content they need to figure out what the page is about.
Likewise, adding Schema.org formatted data can help convey the topic of your videos to search engines.
Videos can have an indirect positive impact on SEO
Just because videos won’t have a direct impact on your search results, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use them.
Videos are often a much more efficient way of communicating complex ideas. They can help keep your audience more engaged and they’re inherently more shareable than overly long text articles.
Many SEO experts suspect that search engines use behavioral data as a factor when determining rankings. This means that if someone arrives on your site after searching for a particular keyword phrase but quickly leaves your site to look for other options in the search results, the search engine will be less likely to rank your site highly for that phrase.
That quick bounce away from your site and back to the results results gives the search engine a clear indication that your site did not provide the information the searcher was looking for. But if a video is able to keep your visitors more engaged on your site for a longer period of time, search engines will view that as a positive indicator of your site’s value to searchers.
Also, if people start sharing the page your video is on within their social networks or amongst friends and colleagues, it’s more likely that page will start receiving inbound links from some of the people who discover it. These links can in turn have a very strong impact on the SEO success of your page as they one of the main factors search engines look at when determining rankings.
Videos can have an indirect negative impact on SEO
With that said, videos can also negatively impact the way search engines view a page. Again, this revolves around behavioral data. If your video is not engaging, poorly produced or doesn’t adequately cover the topic it’s on, visitors may quickly leave your site in order to find more suitable content.
One common mistake we see is having a video automatically start playing as soon as someone arrives on the site. Take a second to think about how you react when you encounter an auto-play video on the web. Often times, the initially reaction is to close the page as soon as possible.
People browsing the web love to have control over their browsing experience and if you take that away from them, they won’t be sticking around to explore your site. Again, these immediate bounces tell search engines that the usability of your site is not on par with they want to be displaying to searchers.
Quality is key
As will all forms of content on your website, it really comes down to quality. If you have a great video that effectively explains a complicated topic about your industry, it’s likely to have a positive impact on the success of your website.
However, I wouldn’t recommend placing a low quality video on your website just for the sake of having a video. Before you embed a video on your site, ask yourself if this is something you would want to watch. If the production or sound quality is low or if it just doesn’t do a good job of explaining its topic, ditch the video in favor of some well-written content.