Kathleen Celmins is the CEO and co-founder of Amplified NOW, a video-first content marketing agency that helps people get their content marketing done to bring in more leads and sales while still leaving time to do everything else owning a business requires. She sat down with Brendan Hufford to talk about how he’s using video in his business.
Importance of SEO and Video
When starting, Brendan knew he wanted to leverage video. Video has its own area of discoverability, and he knew it was an area he could play in with SEO. When people think of SEO, they think of Google, but there are many different search engines, and video helps you take advantage of as many as possible.
When asked how video influences SEO, Brendan says, “What’s cool about video is you have a chance to be surfaced in search engines. Sometimes, Google knows that the thing people want to see is a video rather than an article or text. You have a chance to surface both in Google and in YouTube, which I think is effective.”
You can also do some cool things with the video to change, what Brendan calls, the content experience of a blog post. Rather than embedding a video that says the same thing as the blog post, Brendan likes to embed different videos that go specifically with the blog post. So, for example, if he has a blog post with three or four different sections, he creates a video for each section. That way, as somebody scrolls through the post, they get to have a deeper, more personal interaction with you. It could add context or pull in some other aspects that only video can do.
Also, from an SEO standpoint, when you embed video into your articles, that video has a higher chance of ranking in search. Because there is both written text and a video, it helps the algorithm to understand that they are related and, thus, more likely to be discovered.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Video
When working with clients, Brendan always has them put their content marketing videos on YouTube because Google owns it. He then has a writer on his team rewrite a blog post, so it reads like an article and not a transcript. This improves the quality and readability. In his experience, the overlap of people who both watch the video and read the blog post is small, so you don’t have to worry about repeating yourself.
When filling out a description on YouTube, Brendan tries to fill out as much of the area as possible. He tries to build it out and optimize it for keeping people watching the video and increasing their session time by giving them as many links as possible to other related videos. Rather than just filling the description with part of the blog post, he has found that putting in key takeaways or anything that gives the person watching more value increases the viewer’s affinity for you as a creator or brand.
It’s also essential to get your description done before you upload your video to YouTube because they may not continue checking your video over time after you upload. So, whatever you have in the description when you upload may be the only thing they see about the video. It’s helpful to make sure you have that done ahead of time.
Brendan knows that he and his clients are unlikely to rank in Google for many things, but he does know that he can bring the entertainment. He equates most YouTube videos about SEO like watching a wet blanket. After being a teacher for ten years, Brendan knows how to make his content both informative and fun to watch. Rather than trying to compete where he knows that he won’t be seen, he spends his time and energy trying to make engaging and informative content.
Humans versus Algorithms
When it comes to SEO, the question often arises, should I build my content to speak to my target audiences, or should I focus on creating it for the optimal number of hits?
From a video standpoint, Brendan feels that what’s often best for humans is also the YouTube algorithm. Watch and session time are both something you can control to a degree by understanding how to make videos, creating open loops, and doing all the things that keep people watching. You want 75% of people to watch 75% of the video, and then YouTube will start promoting it.
When making videos, you want to focus on making something that people want to watch. Think about what they care about. They don’t want to watch a two-minute video that lays out all your credentials. They want to know what you’re going to talk about, and then they want you to get into it.
When it comes to Google, things used to be very different. You used to see “keyword stuffing,” where people put their keywords in the header tags and use it eight times. Now those things aren’t as necessary anymore. Brendan says we have to consider that if we write something robotic, based on a content brief or based on what we think Google wants, it most likely won’t come across as authentic.
For instance, for a long time, SEO plugins would recommend that you use your keyword in the first sentence. But Brendan says that this doesn’t usually make sense. “Why not start with a story? Why not start with a hook? Why not ask a question? Write all those things that get people engaged in reading.”
Brendan always indexes for humans. “On a long enough timeline, that’s where Google is going. They want something better for humans because all their revenue comes from ads. Nobody will go to a search engine and click the ads if the organic results aren’t good,” he says.
Brendan believes that “robot versus human” creates a false dichotomy. They used to be very separate. You could tell when articles were robotic and when they were human but probably wouldn’t rank for anything, but things are changing.
Discoverability and Search Intent
Now, Brendan says he strives to make things that are focused on discoverability. He wants to help people who have never heard of him. This means understanding their search intent. “Search intent matters more than keyword research. We need to really understand that if somebody is googling this, what do they really want?” he says.
Some SEO gurus say that articles need to be 2000 words or that they should be 8000-word pillar posts. But Brendan disagrees with the idea that more words mean that an article will rank better. Instead of focusing on word count, focus on the intent. What do people want from their content?
A good example is the search phrase, “digital marketing skills.” If you google that now, every article starts with a number, and they are all just different versions of the same unhelpful content.
If you look at the autocompletes for digital marketing skills on Google and Youtube they are, “digital marketing skills for career and digital marketing skills for resume in 2021.” It became clear to Brendan that the people searching for this wanted to learn new digital marketing skills to put on their resumes and change their lives.
Brendan was a teacher, learned digital marketing, and changed his life. He can approach that topic from a deep place of empathy now that he understands what people want.
“I might not rank number one for digital marketing skills because my website isn’t the biggest and most authoritative, but when somebody gets there, they’ll start reading, and I guarantee they will find what they wanted and feel at home,” he says.
Using Video to Improve Your Sales Process
Brendan encourages making sure you measure the right metrics. Don’t just focus on pageviews and email subscribers. Focus, instead, on how many leads and conversions you are getting. The best way to convert customers is to match the questions that they have with answers.
Video is an effective way to work out some of the sales processes for your future self, so you don’t have to keep answering the same questions repeatedly. “You can answer a question today that somebody will have in eight months, and they’ll connect with you later,” Brendan says.
Brendan says it’s important to understand the cost and benefit of the tools that are out there for anybody getting started in video or SEO. He believes that you should try to do things yourself until the pain of doing it outweighs the cost of hiring it out.
There are many tools out there, but Brendan believes that personal preference and trial and error make a big difference in which tool will be right for you and your business. Rather than getting too hung up on what tools are best, Brendan recommends focusing on writing the best evergreen, human content versus trying to manipulate the algorithm.
Two tools that Brendan believes can help you make sure you don’t have gaps in the content you’re creating are Frase and Spark Toro. These tools give you topic suggestions and help you identify where the people you are trying to speak to are hanging out to get that information out more effectively.
“At the end of the day, whether you’re doing video, text, or whatever media you’re making around your business, understanding your audience at a deeper level is going to have huge dividends,” Brendan says. Using the right tools and creating evergreen content that helps people is how he believes SEO can increase your conversions and get your content in front of the right audience.
Learn more about Brendan and the awesome work he is doing at SEO for the Rest of Us or check out his YouTube.
We’d love to hear what’s working in video for you and your business! Get in touch with us and be featured on the blog.