Video Marketing

Why Your Link-Building Strategy Needs a Video Hook

Shawn 04.14.2014

Video improves your site’s SEO. We all know that. What I’d like to do is show exactly how that happens. Video is directly responsible for improving your SEO in five key metrics:


So in this first of five articles about video SEO I’ll discuss the most obvious benefit of video – Link Building.

Part One: Video Generates Inbound Links

Casey Henry at Moz, says “Having a video compared to just text will almost triple the average number of linking domains.” *Drops the mic.* Seriously though, how important are links to your Video SEO strategy?

SERP search engine results pageEvery two years Moz releases a comprehensive list of Search Engine Ranking Factors. The most recent list – in 2013 – ranks Page Authority as the #1 factor influencing SERP. No surprise there. However, 12 of the next 13 factors relate to links, and the number and quality of links is often cited as the number one factor influencing Page Authority.

But aren’t Links Losing Value?

A lot of SEOs are concerned that spammy link-building practices are diminishing the value of links in Google’s algorithms. On Feb 28th, 2014, Rand Fishkin discussed a test algorithm in which Google completely removed links from the equation! It turns out they didn’t like the results, so for the foreseeable future, links are still where the SEO is at.

But this algorithm tinkering is a sign of the gradual decay of old link-building practices. In a recent post, Google’s Head of Webspam, Matt Cutts, announced the demise of “guest blogging,” to build links. Sites are concerned about providing “bad links” and a lot of content gets no-follow links (which don’t pass any juice) or only social shares – which aren’t the same thing as links.

This is where video SEO comes in.

The difficulty of quality links – and by that I mean editorial links from sites that have built-in authority – are now more valuable than ever, because as the number of good links decrease, each one carries more juice (aka “authority”). Link-farming is out, and even longform content is losing value. The best way to garner the links your site needs to stay in the top ten Google results is with quality video – like a well made explainer.

The Power of Quality Video

Dollar Shave Club CEO - Michael DubinObvious video success stories like Dropbox’s animated explainer video and Dollar Shave Club come to mind, but the odds that your video will go viral are slim, so let’s focus on what video can realistically do for your SEO today.

Josh Hardwick’s great video SEO article at Kissmetric urges companies to make “videos that offer something to the viewer.” He goes on to say:

People don’t link to or share any old rubbish these days. So, to get the success you’re looking for, it’s important for you to really think about who you want to share the video and who you want to link to it.

Video is All About Focus

Users’ attention spans are shorter than ever (estimates range is from 6.5 –15 seconds), so capturing attention is hard to do with longform content – even well-written content and eye-catching headlines. Video obviously helps keep people on your site longer – but we’ll talk about that in the next post. What video does better than any other media is distill focus.

However, the “focus” I’m talking about isn’t your viewers’ – it’s yours.

Quality video production is a time-consuming investment. That’s why a lot of people don’t do it, or don’t do it well. The simple act of producing relevant video forces you to focus on your niche market, which informs the content based on your marketing or sales objectives. The first question we ask potential clients is, “What are your goals with this video?”

Too many companies plow head-on with marketing strategies that don’t work because they’re trying to get links from all over the place instead of from influencers that matter. Video focuses on a single market, or specific topic or target, and that specificity is where the quality links come from.

Look at the success of RSA whiteboard animation. Their explainer videos are well produced, clear, and provide educational value. Each video explains a single concept with their signature style, and people love it. Over 12 million people have viewed the above video, and just like me, thousands of them have linked to this quality content, making RSA synonymous with authority.

What if your video is a product, not a concept? Video generates links (and social media shares) through exciting product explanations and demos like Motorola’s Moto X and Moto G explainer videos, which use compelling motion graphics to redefine the brand.

What about culture change or social issues? Video shines in this arena by giving activists something short, concise, and powerful to link to for raising awareness. TED and TEDx are the obvious leaders in this field with over 40,000 videos between these two channels! Their videos evoke emotional responses and articulate discussions of brands, issues, and trends affecting every segment of society, but each video is always targeted at a single issue, which is why they get linked everywhere.

Video reaches people quickly with a clear, shareable message. They often show people “how to do” something – a common search query – and people love to share that kind of knowledge. Every external link a video creates for your page is a notch of authority in SERP and overall domain rank.

Moz - Rand FishkinMy final example is Moz (again). They post a “Whiteboard Friday” video every week, where a qualified staff member (usually founder Rand Fishkin) explains a concept related to SEO best practices. The videos may seem dry (especially if you’re not in the industry), and they’re not overproduced (it’s always a single take in front of a whiteboard), but hot damn are they valuable.

Moz doesn’t want you to watch if you’re not an SEO! They only want to capture their niche – and it’s working. Marketers and SEOs love Whiteboard Fridays, and the consistent links from reputable sites keeps Moz at the top of the competitive SEO heap.

The secret to a successful video link-building strategy is to make quality content for your audience. Film it, and they will come.

Ask yourself if you can afford to ignore the link-building power of video, and stay tuned for 4 More SEO Boosts that Video Provides.


Born in Southern California, Shawn grew up surfing, eating In-N-Out, and growing his hair long. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from CSU Long Beach in 2005 he left the crowded freeways behind and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world living for stretches in Rome, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Brooklyn. He writes novels as well as copy, loves learning keyboard shortcuts, and plays his grandpa’s old lap steel guitar. You can hear his band at

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