In today’s digital age, videos are getting used in providing tutorials to entertainment, they offer a dynamic and engaging way to convey information and engage viewers. Between 2011 and 2017, the average web page size grew from 1 MB to over 3 MB, which can be primarily attributed due to the increase in video content usage on web pages. As developers and content creators add more high-quality videos to their platforms, there’s a pressing need for video optimization. But what exactly is video optimization?
Understanding Video Optimization
Video optimization is the process of enhancing the viewer’s experience while simultaneously reducing network bandwidth consumption. It also includes the addition of all possible attributes in the required format for better indexing and search visibility. Such attributes include title, meta, dimensions, valid JSON LD schema, etc. It’s not just about creating great content; it’s about ensuring that content is easily discovered, delivered in the best possible quality without straining network resources.
For those embedding videos on their websites, there’s more to optimization than meets the eye. By creating video sitemaps and adding structured data to your embedded player, you make it easier for search engines to crawl your content. This not only improves your page rankings for video searches in platforms like Google but also allows these platforms to display video thumbnails alongside your webpage results. Essentially, your videos can enhance the search value of your text pages, a significant shift from traditional practices.
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Note: Keep in mind that, while technical aspects like Video Optimization are crucial, the heart of video optimization lies in the content itself. A video can be technically perfect, but if it doesn’t engage or inform the viewer, it won’t achieve its purpose. Whether you’re aiming for humor, education, or inspiration, your content should be shareable. After all, shareable content naturally generates views and drives traffic.
Why Video Optimization?
Let us first look at what users say and experience after doing video optimization and we will then brief the major aspects it covers for better reach and deliverability.
“Ever since I started optimizing my videos, I’ve seen a significant increase in engagement and shares. It’s not just about the content; it’s about how you present it.” – [User from a video forum]
“I was frustrated with slow-loading videos on my site. After optimizing them, not only did they load faster, but my website’s bounce rate also decreased.” – [Tweet from a content creator]
“Optimization is a game-changer. My videos rank higher in search results, and I’ve seen a spike in organic traffic.” – [Comment from a YouTube content creator]
Now let us discuss various aspects, one after another.
Enhanced User Experience
Optimized videos are synonymous with a seamless user experience. They load swiftly, play without interruptions, and are easily discoverable. This ensures that viewers remain engaged, increasing the likelihood of them watching the video in its entirety.
Amplified Web Visibility
A well-optimized video, complete with a compelling title, descriptive tags, and an informative description, stands a higher chance of appearing in search engine results and video platform recommendations. This boosts the video’s visibility, enhancing its potential viewership.
Videos tailored for user experience and visibility naturally garner more shares, likes, and comments. This heightened engagement not only amplifies the video’s reach but can also bolster conversion rates. After all, a dynamic, informative video can engage potential customers more effectively than static content.
Video optimization can significantly curtail bandwidth costs, a crucial consideration for expansive websites. By ensuring videos are streamlined for efficient playback, websites can save on data transfer costs.
The Power of Video Marketing
Internet video consumption is second only to social media activities. Predictions suggest that by 2022, a staggering 82% of web traffic will be attributed to video streaming and downloads. This underscores the potency of video as a marketing tool.
Elevating Site Rankings with Videos
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to leveraging video content for improved website rankings, studies indicate the potential benefits. For instance, Forrester Research found that videos are 53 times more likely to secure first-page rankings compared to traditional SEO methods.
Videos as Purchase Catalysts
The influence of videos on purchasing decisions is undeniable. Hubspot data reveals that a whopping 73% of users who watch product videos end up making a purchase. This highlights the pivotal role videos play in the buying journey. In our video for sales article, we have also discussed how important a video can be for shortening the sales cycle and better lead conversion.
Core Web Vitals and Videos
Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics that Google considers essential in evaluating a website’s overall user experience. Among these, the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is particularly relevant for videos. LCP measures the time it takes for the main content of a page to load. An optimized video can significantly improve a site’s LCP, ensuring users aren’t kept waiting and enhancing their overall experience.
Improved Bounce Rate
An optimized video will load faster, allowing the webpage to load faster and many studies have suggested that faster loading pages have far better bounce rates.
Key Factors and Challenges in Video Optimization
Ensuring that videos are accessible, engaging, and effective in reaching their intended audience is not without its challenges. Let’s delve into the following comprehensive list of hurdles content creators face.
Achieving optimal watch time is a balancing act. While longer videos can provide comprehensive information, they might deter viewers with shorter attention spans. On the other hand, shorter videos might not cover a topic in depth. “I’ve noticed that my longer videos have a higher drop-off rate, even if they’re more detailed,” shared a user on a video forum.
Video Size and Format
Different platforms have varying requirements for video size and format. A format ideal for one platform might not be suitable for another, necessitating multiple versions of the same video. A social media user lamented, “I had to reformat my video three times before it was accepted on a platform!”
Metadata and Tags
Crafting effective metadata and tags is both an art and a science. They need to be relevant to ensure the video is discoverable. “I once mislabeled my video, and it barely got any views,” shared a content creator on YouTube Community.
Player Customization and Hosting
The choice of video player and hosting solution can significantly impact user experience. Customizable players offer a tailored viewing experience, but they might be challenging to integrate. One developer writes on Stackoverflow, “I struggled to customize the video player to match my website’s aesthetics.”
Viewing Device Variability
With viewers accessing videos from various devices, from desktops to mobile phones, ensuring consistent video quality across devices is challenging. This needs storing multiple format copies and delivering them as per the device and browser match.
An engaging video thumbnail can significantly boost video views. However, creating a thumbnail that is both enticing and representative of the video content is a challenge. Many times a thumbnail can draw millions of views just because of the portrait and content expectations built from it.
Engagement and Interactivity
Videos lacking interactive elements or engagement options might not retain viewer attention. A content creator shared, “My video had great content, but viewers dropped off because there was no call-to-action.”
Ensuring videos are easily shareable is crucial for better reach and visibility. However, providing the relevant sharing options can be challenging. For example, your video viewer can be more clustered on reddit in place of facebook.
Bitrate and Quality
Maintaining high video quality while optimizing bitrate to ensure smooth streaming, especially in regions with low internet speeds, is a significant challenge. Many video hosting providers offer adaptive bitrate streaming to make the user experience better.
Geographical and Network Challenges
Geographical restrictions and network issues can hinder video accessibility. A user from a rural area mentioned, “I often face buffering issues due to my region’s slow internet speeds.” Offline downloads and ABR streaming can help such users.
Not all systems, devices and browsers recognize specific video sizes, types, or viewing rates, leading to playback issues. This resulted in every video session, irrespective of its viewing rate, being allocated the same bandwidth. This led to longer buffering times and compromised viewing quality. Solutions like upLynk, VdoCipher and Skyfire’s Rocket Optimizer emerged to address these issues using cloud-based optimization techniques. A forum user shared their frustration, stating, “My video played perfectly on my system, but my friend couldn’t view it on hers.”
Video optimization emerged as a response to the challenges posed by mobile video streaming, the introduction of advanced mobile devices, OTT revolution, and technological changes like LTE and satellite internet. It aims at minimizing video start times, re-buffering events, cost of bandwidth consumed, and enhancing the search appearance of a video.
Smartphones registered a 5% to 40% market penetration between 2007 and 2010 in the United States only. By the third quarter of 2011, smartphone sales rose by 42% in comparison to 2010 and this rapid adoption of mobile devices led to heavy increase in wireless data use. Cisco VNI forecasted that wireless data usage was projected to grow 18-fold from 2011 to 2016.
Similarly, with the launch of the iPhone 5 in September 2012, followed by the launch of many such devices, there were concerns about the strain on the 4G LTE network due to increased multimedia streaming. Below are the number of internet users worldwide from 2005 to 2022(in millions) as per stats curated by Statista.
Over the years, various techniques have been developed to address video optimization challenges. Some of these include pacing (reducing traffic over a mobile network), transrating (modifying the video input stream), transcoding (converting data from one encoding to another), and adaptive bitrate techniques that adjust video quality based on network conditions.
Solutions for Video Optimization
While discussing solutions for Video Optimization, we will be looking at what the solution or technique means, some real life examples of companies or groups using the same, and also some solution providers. If you are planning to host videos on YouTube, some of the techniques are already applied for you. In case of self hosted or third party hosted videos, it depends on either the technical infrastructure on your side or on the providers’ side. These solutions tackle all challenges that were discussed earlier.
Adaptive Bitrate Techniques or Transrating
Adaptive Bitrate Streaming (ABR) is a technique that adjusts the quality of a video stream in real time based on the viewer’s network conditions. This ensures smooth playback without buffering. On the technical front, this needs you to store multiple bitrate video copies in your cloud storage. Although you will be storing 3x-4x of your video size but will also reduce your bandwidth cost due to less size files getting delivered as per the network. According to a study, ABR can reduce buffering events by up to 50%.
Example: Netflix, VdoCipher and YouTube use ABR to deliver high-quality videos to users with varying internet speeds.
Cloud-Based Processing & CDN
You can leverage cloud infrastructure to optimize video delivery, storage, and processing. The way you encode, encrypt, transcode or process your video stream helps in multi-device, multi-format, file size, security and deliverability of your video. Also, use of CDN allows you to store multiple copies of your video file at different geographical locations, allowing faster deliverability and better user experience.
Example: Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers cloud-based video processing solutions and CDN like CloudFront that allow content creators to encode, package, and deliver video content globally. There is also AWS Elemental for live videos, Google Cloud Video Intelligence, and Microsoft Azure Media Services. Solution providers like VdoCipher also handle DRM encryption and secure delivery.
Multiple Format and CMAF
Using multiple video formats to ensure compatibility across devices/platforms and use of CMAF (Common Media Application Format) to enable standard and efficient encoding, packaging, and delivery of streaming media. CMAF can reduce storage and delivery costs by up to 50% by eliminating the need for multiple copies of the same content.
Example: Apple’s HLS and MPEG-DASH are two popular streaming protocols that can be unified under CMAF, allowing for a single set of files to be used across different devices and platforms. Companies like VdoCipher and Wowza offer solutions that provide multi format storage of your videos and even CMAF.
Lazy loading a Video
Lazy loading is a technique that defers the loading of non-critical resources, such as videos, until they are needed. This can significantly improve page load times, reduce server load, and save bandwidth. You can implement lazy loading for videos by using:
- data-src attribute instead of the src attribute in the video tag
- use CSS to visually indicate that the video will be loaded when in view
- you can use a placeholder or a loading animation
- Use IntersectionObserver API to detect when the video is within the viewport
Video SEO and Keyword Research
Optimizing video content for search engines to improve visibility and rankings by Identifying relevant keywords to improve video discoverability on search engines and platforms is a must have practice. Without applying the same, your content won’t get discovered through search engines and the reach will rely only on self promotion. Using tools like Google keyword planner, gauzing the SERP for the keyword, using the keyword in your content, title, meta, tags, etc are the basics which needs to be done. Also, it is better to have a video sitemap and place Video structured data in the form of JSON LD with every video your place or embed on your website.
Example: Moz’s “Whiteboard Friday” videos are optimized for SEO, resulting in high search engine rankings. SEMrush and Ahrefs also offer keyword research tools tailored for video content.
You can go through the following google documentation on required parameters to be placed for Video SEO. https://developers.google.com/search/docs/appearance/structured-data/video
Using techniques like pacing lets you adjust the speed and rhythm of video content to maintain viewer interest and engagement. This also helps you reduce the file size which can further be cost-beneficial.
Example: Filmmakers and editors often adjust the pacing of scenes to build tension or convey emotions. Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro offer video editing tools to adjust pacing.
It is important to create compelling and relevant thumbnails to increase click-through rates. Using tools like canva for creating template based thumbnails and background remover tools to capture real details in it can help your video stand out. For your website, self hosted videos or third party hosted videos, you can use A/B testing to determine which thumbnails resonate best with your audience. A well-optimized thumbnail can increase video views by up to 154%, according to source.
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Using AI to Write Better Title and Description
Even though we discussed title and meta description in the Video SEO section, leveraging artificial intelligence to craft compelling titles and descriptions that resonate with the target audience can create compelling results. This can be because an AI model like ChatGPT and Bard can also read through YMYL and other EEAT guidelines by google and other search engines to address all the points. Also, asking a model to be more and more creative to generate click-worthy titles is also possible.
Transcoding and Full Transcoding
Transcoding is converting a video file from one encoding to another to ensure compatibility across devices and platforms. Whereas full transcoding allows complete decoding and recoding video files while allowing for changes in codec and resolution. It may allow optimization rates of 60-80% per video. Cloud-based solutions, such as Skyfire allow network architectures with inexpensive CPUs to utilize full transcoding.
Example: AWS, GCP, VdoCipher provides video transcoding for better optimization of uploaded videos to multiple formats to ensure playback on various devices. Also, HandBrake and FFmpeg are popular transcoding tools. Netflix uses full transcoding to offer multiple versions of a video.
Chat and Interactive Elements
Incorporating chat features and interactive elements in videos to engage viewers and foster community can significantly boost viewer engagement and help in overall understanding. Use of polls to gauge audience opinions can provide instant feedback from video viewers.
Example: Twitch allows viewers to chat in real-time while watching streams, enhancing the viewing experience. AWS IVS offer platforms with integrated chat features for live streaming.
Optimizing Quality of Experience (QoE)
Various metrics and analytics must be set up to ensure that viewers have a positive viewing experience by optimizing video quality, reducing buffering, and improving playback. Although setting up such a large analytics is cumbersome for small and medium scale companies, for the likes of Netflix, they use QoE metrics to monitor and improve the viewing experience for its subscribers.
Optimizing Consumer Engagement with Video
Using analytics and feedback mechanisms over the interactive elements helps in improving the learning experience. Most studies suggest an increase in memory and retention with the use of interactive elements. Thus, it is necessary to tap in the user experience details by looking at the video analytics attributes like views, watch time, etc. If you find any gaps, skips, etc, it is always better to trim or substitute.
Example: YouTube’s “End Screens”, AWS IVS, and website enabled chats/quizzes add interactivity to videos.
By providing users with easy-to-use sharing tools to distribute video content across social media platforms and other channels, a video can get a better reach. In most cases (including YouTube), provide sharing options nearby the video player, so that it becomes easy to get noticed and used.
Solution Providers: AddThis and ShareThis offer video sharing tools and plugins for websites to add such sharing options and buttons.
Why is video optimization important?
It ensures that your videos are easily discoverable, reach a wider audience, load faster, and provide a better viewer experience.
How does video length affect optimization?
Video length can affect viewer retention. It’s essential to keep the content engaging regardless of its length. However, videos that are too long may deter some viewers, while too short may not provide sufficient information.
What are the best formats for optimized video playback?
MP4 is widely accepted because of its compatibility and compression characteristics. Other formats like WebM and Ogg might also be considered based on the target audience and platform.
What role do thumbnails play in video optimization?
Thumbnails act as the first impression of your video. An engaging thumbnail can increase the click-through rate of your video.
How do video transcriptions help in optimization?
Transcriptions make the content accessible to a wider audience, including those with hearing impairments. They also make the content crawlable by search engines, potentially boosting SEO.
Supercharge Your Business with Videos
At VdoCipher we maintain the strongest content protection for videos. We also work extremely hard to deliver the best viewer experience. We'd love to hear from you, and help boost your video streaming business.
My expertise focuses on DRM encryption, CDN technologies, and streamlining marketing campaigns to drive engagement and growth. At VdoCipher, I’ve significantly enhanced digital experiences and contributed to in-depth technical discussions in the eLearning, Media, and Security sectors, showcasing a commitment to innovation and excellence in the digital landscape.