videoseoVideo has emerged as one of the hottest topics in recruitment marketing, as well as an increasingly ubiquitous feature of every company careers page and social recruiting platform.  That’s not even mentioning the fact that video cover letters, video job descriptions, video interviewing and similar solutions are transforming this medium into a core component of the core recruiting process and systems.

Video is nothing new, obviously; in fact, the actual format itself has long been obsolete (planning on buying any new VHS tapes soon)? While, as the Buggles famously sang, video killed the radio star (and Betamax), it’s also killing traditional online recruitment marketing and employer branding strategies. As common as videos have become, though, simply having these assets isn’t enough to guarantee success or generate competitive advantage.

Getting the most out of video means seeing the bigger picture (literally) and thinking holistically.  Video is great, but the key to turning them from branding tool to buzz building blockbuster requires some basic understanding of how video impacts SEO and search results.

Here are some marketing basics every talent pro needs to know to make video a key part of your recruiting strategy (and key driver for recruiting success):

Video SEO For Recruiting

Not only does video work for SEO, but it’s one of the simplest ways to boost your organic recruiting and staffing search results and boost your online employer brand visibility.  The real question is: How do you get found on YouTube, the world’s second most used search engine?  How do you get viewers to dedicate a few minutes of the billions of hours of video watched worldwide on YouTube every month?

Here’s some key data straight from YouTube that builds a clear case use for video SEO and recruiting:

  • YouTube generates more than 1 billion unique users every month.  80% comes from outside the US.
  • YouTube users watch over 6 billion hours of video every month. That’s close to an hour for every person on earth.
  • YouTube users upload over 100 hours of video every minute.
  • YouTube is localized in 61 countries for 61 different languages.
  • YouTube reaches more viewers in the 8-34 demographic than any cable network, according to Nielsen.
  • YouTube generates millions of subscriptions every day; the number of people subscribing daily has increased 300% since last year, and the number of different daily subscriptions has increased 400% since 2013.
  • 40% of the 6 billion hours of YouTube footage is viewed on a mobile device.

How YouTube SEO Works: Video Ranking for Recruiting

videoSEO_imageWhile they might be owned by them, it’s important to remember that YouTube is not Google.  Video, similarly, is ranked different than written content for search results, and therefore requires a different SEO strategy.

This doesn’t mean you should completely ignore traditional optimization techniques (or the power of formula) when looking at how video content results rank.

But the fact is, the years of posting videos for the sake of simply having video content are over.  In fact, if you’re posting without a strategy for SEO, be assured that there’s almost no way your video will ever be ranked.

So, what, exactly, is a “ranked video?”

Simply put, a ranked video on YouTube is a video that holds a place in search results.  That place is determined by unadvertised videos (“promoted video” displays are entirely different) and the immediate relevance of short tail search terms.  More important, at least for some, is the fact that it also factors in long tail search terms in determining those persistent, and ever so sticky, “suggested videos” you see on the right side of the YouTube screen.

So, what is a short tail search term? Simply put, marketers attempting to execute a short tail search campaign attempt to capture direct interest or traffic from internet users who are searching for a very specific or highly niched term.  For example, a short tail search would target, “recruitment CRM” as an SEO strategy, as opposed to the much more broadly focused keyword “CRM.”  For B2B marketing in particular, these terms are highly competitive for relative search ranking; the reward, however, is often a spike in high value, highly targeted site traffic.

Compare this strategy to what we refer to as “long tail search terms.”  Marketers executing long tail search campaigns are attempting to target traffic or capture interest from people searching sites for relatively infrequent or uncommon queries.  For example, “Engineering Jobs” may represent a short tail or a query with relatively high search volume.

Using the term “Engineering Jobs in Ohio,” by contrast, adds the proverbial long tail and targets less frequent, but still highly optimized search traffic.

7 Steps To Killer Video SEO on YouTube

As discussed before, SEO results and strategy are different on YouTube than Google’s content-based ranking authority; this has created a massive misunderstanding regarding what constitutes a highly optimized video for search when compared to the differentiated strategy used in creating a strong content marketing strategy to capture search engine rankings.

If you’re looking to step up your recruitment marketing and employer branding game with video content, here are 7 steps you need to consider when creating and uploading these assets to YouTube.

Disclaimer: Don’t ever upload videos simply for the sake of producing enough volume to meet a benchmark or quota (even if it is for the boss).  Having a YouTube with dozens of videos doesn’t earn you admission into the cool kids’ club.  That’s because there’s nothing new or innovative about leveraging video in recruitment; in fact, by most standards, it’s actually a mainstream mainstay of most online recruitment marketing.  That’s why your focus must be on quality, not quantity.

  1. Title and Tagging structure
  2. Viewing hours, minutes and retention. (sometimes referred to as “Audience Retention”)
  3. Your Video Description
  4. The length of your video
  5. The tagging structure and keywords on your video (and channel in combination)
  6. Comments, likes and dislikes (engagement) on your video
  7. Your video / channel subscribers (after watching your video and return channel subscribers to re-watch your videos)

Let’s break these down is a few easy to follow definitions:

Title and Tagging Structure

Targeting keywords in a video title doesn’t do justice or create long term value for SEO.  That might have worked back in 2007, but YouTube has evolved along with the internet, and is infinitely smarter when it comes to search than it used to be.  The lifespan of your video and your ranking authority now directly relates to the proper use of “long tail” titles (see above) and a tagging structure that allows YouTube viewers to find your video in search results based on a specific need.

Don’t use 13 different tags that are all pretty much a variation on the same key term, like “recruiting” and “recruitment.”  This is called keyword stuffing,” and will actually lead to getting penalized for trying to game the search system.  Once you’re flagged, it’s just like high school in terms of your long term strategy: “Once A Cheater, Always A Cheater.”  It’s a label that’s nearly impossible to shed.

The idea is that content must remain true to keywords and relevant to the title and tagging structure.  While keyword stuffing might lead to a short term uptick of video views today, it will likely lead to zero views tomorrow once this strategy is flagged and penalized.

Viewing hours, minutes and retention (AKA “Audience Retention”)

YouTube measures three distinct types of audience retention rates: absolute, relative and traffic source, similar to what you’d find on the backend of any analytics tool available to most webmasters which track bounce and retention rates for site visitors.  This capability makes YouTube analytics easy, but don’t get confused as to the real purpose of this tool.

YouTube wants great content, and need to be assured your video isn’t just great for your audience, but for their audience as well.  It’s not magic or some sort of witchcraft that the shoes you just looked at on Macy’s website start appearing in every search stream on every site you visit after the fact: this is called behavioral targeting.  The same holds true for how YouTube utilizes retention rates for authority.

What’s referred to as absolute audience retention shows a real time look at video views in real time.  In 2013 and 2014, users averaged 15 seconds per video view. This short attention span, naturally, led to most videos having relatively short lives in terms of search results, given their inability to retain an audience for less time than a standard TV commercial.

Relative audience retention, by contrast, compares your video’s ability to hold a viewer on YouTube on your video against the time they spend on every other video on the platform.  Viewing the report on your channel can be very telling (and often defeating), but will allow you to see exactly where your video content loses viewers.  This information is critical for adjusting future content on your channel, particularly if your strategy depends on a captive, engaged audience who will really respond to a video’s CTA.

Retention by traffic source, finally, refers to both paid (display and promoted) ads as well as organic traffic.  Clearly, as much as we’d love the second, it’s important to recognize the value of paid traffic as equally valuable and often, much more tightly targeted; in recruiting, you get what you pay for, and the value for paid traffic in recruitment marketing can’t be understated.

Your Video Description

For all the debates swirling around the type of descriptions you should incorporate into a video posting strategy, I’ll leave that conversation to the comment strings and user groups and give you my take.  As a content publisher, I not only create and market content, but contrary to what some of you might think, I have some street cred in this area (and happen to kind of know what I’m doing).

Here are 2 critical questions to help understand my argument.

1. Do you publish blog posts that are 50 words or less?

2. Were you ever told that posting a video in a blog drives traffic and kicks SEO ass?

Your video description should be treated, more or less, like a blog post with a video embedded in it.  Your description is the first and foremost traffic driver across search engines – and most critical component of video SEO. Google, Yahoo! or any search engine you use can’t listen to or watch your video, and therefore, cannot generate search results based on what’s actually recorded.  As great as this technology has become, it’s not Sylvia Brown.

YouTube Tip: Make sure your description is no less than 200-250 words, and contains clear, relevant keywords built around long tail search results. Keyword stuffing and hoping for the best is a strategy sure to fail every time.

Video SEO: Does Size Matter?

Scientifically speaking, this concept really isn’t too complicated, but in video SEO, size does matter.  As marketers, we argue this daily, but that’s to keep us relevant and looking like we know what we’re talking about as “thought leaders” on the conference circuit, since most uneducated “influencers” don’t actually practice what they preach, but need something to sermonize (OK, I had to get that dig in there, but I’m kidding, of course – I still love ya).

Here are the facts about why size matters in video SEO.  Note these statements are gathered from a variety of sources and can be substantiated (I’m just not going to backlink because I don’t want a penalty for this post, too):

  1. Keep Your video under :45 seconds if you want any chance at social sharing.
  2. Keep your video between 60-90 seconds if you’re wanting to engage viewers or build brand awareness.
  3. If you’re wanting a video to lead to viewers taking action (e.g. applying for a job) then you have less than 30 seconds to convey your message and CTA.

Video Tagging Structure and Channel Keywords

Video-SEO-4-Metrics“SERP,” which stands for Search Engine Results Page, can best be described as the page of results that show up once you enter a query into a search engine.

It’s important to understand a few key components of SERP before moving forward:

  1. The Search Query: The actual search inputted by the user
  2. Organic SERP: Results that are displayed based on the natural relevance of your content to the search query.
  3. Paid SERP: Ads or sponsored results that appear after a search; this is most commonly referred to as a “pay-per-click” campaign.

It’s not easy, and often, ranking high for your keyword of choice can be a monumental task.  Expect to get dirty if you don’t have deep pockets; this is where the hard work really happens.

Without getting too geeky (Google SERPs if you really want the nitty gritty), here are a couple key points to consider:

Research Relevant Keywords: I’m not talking about basic terms.  Go deeper with any number of keyword analysis tools on the market, such as Google Insights or HRMarketer, and get a closer look at what’s actually going to work without becoming a victim of too much paralysis by analysis. The results are simple and more often than not, actionable.

Without getting too geeky (you can Google SERP’s and get the nitty gritty there), here are a couple of key focal points to consider:

Create Your Hierarchy of Relevance: Don’t just copy competitors when going after keywords; you’re going to end up losing, good or bad.  Make sure you define and create your own relevance and structure around the end goals you’ve defined in creating a video strategy in the first place.  Group the words you’ve researched in Step 1 and deploy your ad strategy (organic or paid) into these relative groups so that you’re serving each segment consumable chunks of information.

Manage and Adjust Your Campaign:  Do not pull and Andy Reid and refuse to adjust your strategy. Be flexible enough to pivot based on performance; you’ll soon be able to analyze your results and how your conversions are performing against your goal.  In short, listen to your analytics.  The only shame in that game will be if you fail to convert visitors into leads – and leads into applicants – if they’re dedicating the time required to watch 45 long seconds or so of your video. I’m no social media evangelist, but conversion is everything.

Creating Engagement On Your Channel: I’m going to be clear on this point. YouTube can give a rat’s ass about back linking. Having 45 blogs link to your video does nothing for you. In fact, it severely hurts your conversions and SERP placement.

How?  You don’t own YouTube.  You can’t control suggested videos, and you certainly won’t flip YouTube’s audience on its head, no matter how many black hat tactics you try.  If this worked, you’d be working for YouTube.  Period.  Unless your YouTube channel is a top performer, you can rest assured that your videos are serving the public as a pass-through experience, something to be consumed and disposed of by users, not necessarily digested.  Your conversions, candidate applications, and talent community growth need to happen on your careers site, since this is one domain you actually control as a recruiter.

Thing is, YouTube doesn’t care about backlinks to drive traffic.  They’re concerned with the number of subscribers and likes to determine relevance, and this means, you guessed it, building this on-platform into your video SEO strategy.

Organic Search & Video SEO: How To Get Top Level Placement

Getting likes, avoiding dislikes and adding subscribers on YouTube isn’t a difficult task – making sure they work in your favor, however, is a different story.  Advice for building an engagement strategy around these topics could easily fill a book, but here are a few quick tips to help you visualize the bigger picture goal and ensure engagement success.

3 key things to consider:

  1. Likes are great
  2. Dislikes are bad but not awful
  3. Subscribers are great and can be used for cross promotion (e.g. jobs for a recruiter, products or content for marketers)

Building authority is like building online street cred.  Getting thousands of likes on a video or thousands of subscribers to your channel is an awesome feeling.  Earning that engagement is even better.  How you earn likes, dislikes and subscribers is a key factor in how visible your video content will be in search engine results and the ever present “suggested videos” on the sidebar and at the end of every video viewed.

How do you get your video content from forgotten to suggested?  Simple.  If someone dislikes your video without actually visiting it, or likes your video without viewing it, or even subscribe to your channel without actually looking at any of the content on it, you’ll lose serious credibility and ranking authority.  YouTube isn’t dumb, but these tactics sure are.

If you think you can buy likes, subscribers or visibility for your videos on YouTube, then think again.  Those funds would be better allocated to a paid SERP or PPC campaign – or even better, to creating compelling, quality video content that makes viewers actually care – and share.  I swear.

By Ryan Leary

Ryan Leary helps create the processes, ideas and innovation that drives RecruitingDaily. He’s our in-house expert for anything related to sourcing, tools or technology. A lead generation and brand buzz building machine, he has built superior funnel systems for some of the industries top HR Tech and Recruitment brands. He is a veteran to the online community and a partner here at RecruitingDaily.