“How To” videos are on the rise. Data shows that video is becoming more popular as an answer source. Likewise, Google is serving more YouTube videos in search results, especially for “how-to” type questions. Using video to answer questions in Google Search is increasingly relevant, and is a big opportunity for reaching a bigger audience.
Have you ever searched Google for a “How To” type answer and the top result is a video? The video is directly from YouTube and is timestamped to a specific part where they answer your question.
These are known as a YouTube Featured Snippet or YouTube Suggested Clip. It shows the video thumbnail, title, and a link to the video on YouTube.
If you are like me, you might have wondered “how did they do that”? In this article, I’ll break down what a YouTube Featured Snippet is and how to get one by optimizing your YouTube videos for SEO.
YouTube Knowledge Panel vs. YouTube Featured Snippet vs. YouTube Suggested Clip
When learning YouTube SEO, there are several terms we should understand first.
Knowledge Graph – The Google Knowledge Graph is a knowledge base of entities and the relationships to each other. For example, think of a parent company and its subsidiaries. General Motors is a company that owns Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, and Buick. Each entity stands alone, each with their own vehicle models and unique attributes, but are all related to each other.
The Google Knowledge Graph serves to connect the dots between subjects and shows related data when relevant. When I search for “best movies of the decade” Google shows me a carousel of movie choices and more options for watching those movies on platforms. I can even change the subject “Movies” to something else, such as TV shows or music.
Featured Snippet – The Featured Snippet is each segment displayed in Google Search that makes up the Knowledge Graph. In the example above, we can see both a Knowledge Panel for “Popular decade movies” and “What to watch”. These are special search results that stand out above the usual website link and meta data results.
Here’s another example. I searched “who says life finds a way” and I got a YouTube video carousel and a Featured Snippet with the movie quote and the source for the iconic phrase from Jurassic Park.
Notice the YouTube videos showed as a top search result. We will get to that.
Knowledge Panel – The Knowledge Panel is an important part of the Knowledge Graph, typically reserved for businesses or public figures. They provide background information, images of the individual or business, social media links, and other relevant sources.
To recap, the Google Knowledge Graph is a network of related information and how they relate, and a Featured Snippet or Google Knowledge Panel is how Google displays that information to searchers.
The Featured Snippet is similar to the Knowledge Panel, in that it typically contains a title, logo or image, a bit of text that answers the search query, while providing links to the sources of information. Featured Snippets are typically used as a public service.
Learn more about Google Knowledge Panels here.
YouTube Suggested Clip – So what is a YouTube Suggested Clip? This is a form of Featured Snippet that answers your question with a YouTube video that is time stamped at a specific point where your question is answered.
Are you confused yet? To help reiterate, here is the Google Knowledge hierarchy starting on the left:
Knowledge Graph>Knowledge Panel>Featured Snippet>Suggested Clip
What are YouTube Featured Snippets?
A YouTube Featured Snippet is part of the Google Knowledge Graph that features a YouTube video to answer a search query. A YouTube Suggested Clip is a type of Featured Snippet.
For example, “how to tie a tie” is one of the most searched phrases in Google. When you search this phrase, here is what you get:
The Suggested Clip is set at 0:17, so when you click play, you will get your answer right away. Optimizing your YouTube video for Google Search will improve your chances for getting your video featured in a Suggested Clip.
How to Optimize YouTube Videos for Video Featured Snippets
The method that Google uses to decide what content gets shown in a Featured Snippet or Knowledge Panel is relatively unknown. However, there are several things you can do to make your YouTube video a great candidate for a feature. Also, keep in mind that YouTube SEO happens in two places, the video page and the video itself. Optimizing both of these areas are important to get that Featured Snippet.
For a more detailed how-to, check out our guide for YouTube Optimization.
What Factors are Important for a YouTube Featured Snippet
There are several factors that Google looks for in a strong candidate. Let’s take a look:
- Relevance – How closely related is your video topic to the keyword phrase you want to be featured for? Does your title clearly state what question you answer? Does your description explain how you will answer the question? Does your video concisely answer the question in an easy to understand format?
- Expertise, Authority, and Trust – These three principles, also known as EAT, applies to any content that Google ranks. If your video demonstrates your expertise, the authority on the subject, and you can be trusted as a source, you are on the right track to being featured.
- Timeliness – When do you answer the question in your video? Do you have a long introduction or is the answer buried somewhere in your video? Making it simple for Google and viewers are both good ideas and can help you be featured.
Optimize Your YouTube Video
Keywords – Google and YouTube can transcribe video into text. Be mindful of your video script so that those keywords you want to be featured or ranked for are present.
Some light keyword research can help you find what questions should be answered. Try using the Answer The Public tool, Google Trends, or taking a look at the “People Also Ask” or “Suggested Search” sections of Google Search results.
Check out how to use Google Trends for market research here.
Introduction – Be sure to shorten video introductions, if you want to display your logo first, a simple flash across the screen is good enough. If you can, answer the primary question within the first 10 seconds of the video.
Content – Your video content should be formed around answering one question, or a few step-by-step instructions. Be sure to clearly state the question and then answer it concisely. The sooner you answer the question in your video, the better.
If you are demonstrating a product or a how-to, state each step as you move along the timeline. The bottom line: Be as plain and clear as possible without dragging on too long.
Optimize the YouTube Video Page – After crafting your optimized video, the next step is to prepare for publishing to YouTube. Planning ahead to optimize the YouTube video page is recommended. Here are the important SEO factors to consider:
Video Title – The video title is your headline, and one of the most important factors. Make sure you state the exact question you are answering and use the keywords that are most important to the topic. Short and concise is best. Here is a good formula to remember when crafting a YouTube video title: Keyword + Question, or Keyword/Question + Call-to-Action
You can also look at it this way:
Number (Top 10, Best 5, etc.) or Trigger Word (Get rid of, Common mistakes, How to, etc.) + an Adjective (quickly, easily, etc.) + Keyword (related to the video) + Promise (fix the problem, be a pro, achieve your goal, etc.)
Video Description – There are several good examples of video descriptions out on YouTube. The one thing they have in common is that they tell the viewer how the video will answer their question. You can have a short description of a couple sentences, a longer description with a table of contents using timestamp links, or even a full video transcript. Whatever you decide, just make sure you are describing how the video will answer the viewer’s question.
Video File Name – Yes, YouTube looks at video files. Make sure you include your keywords in the video file, using hyphens to separate each word in the file name.
Video Thumbnail – Although it is not confirmed that Google and YouTube look at video thumbnails, a good thumbnail is known to help increase views, which in turn tells Google and YouTube they should pay attention to your video. A good thumbnail image may not get you a featured snippet, but it can help increase views.
The thumbnail should have your branded logo and a relevant image of what your video topic covers. Bright colors, striking images, and even text that echo your video title help make the thumbnail stand out. Just be careful to not make the image cluttered or confusing.
Are YouTube Suggested Clips Worth It?
Is all this work for a suggested clip worth it? The short answer: yes! Think of it this way, if your informative video shows up in Google Search in front of thousands, perhaps millions of searchers in a suggested clip, you have the opportunity to spread brand awareness in a way you couldn’t have before.
- Someone just installed butcher block countertops in their kitchen. They want to know how to care for and clean their new countertops.
- Your business sells specialized cleaning products online. You make a YouTube video explaining how to clean and care for butcher block countertops using the products you sell.
- Your video is used in a YouTube Suggested Clip when the searcher types “how to clean butcher block countertops” in a search. They watch your video and may visit your website to order cleaning products. Voila!
Why is YouTube SEO Important?
If you have a YouTube channel, you have a powerful marketing tool at your disposal. The future of the internet is video. Searchers are more likely to prefer watching a video over reading text on a web page. You can reach a greater audience and increase your appeal with video. Share your videos through social media. Show off your expertise by embedding your videos on your website to captivate and inform your audience.
Optimizing your YouTube videos will help them get seen, and earn public trust. If you produce helpful videos that people like to watch, your audience will grow.
Now that you have the knowledge, it’s time to get busy. We wish you the best in your YouTube adventure!
Check out these YouTube tutorials for more information.
Learn how YouTube analytics work with this tutorial.
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