Video Marketing

Engagement: Video Marketing SEO Series: Part 2

Shawn 05.05.2014

SEO is all about getting people to your site so they can convert. To do that, you have to keep them there. Welcome to Part Two of the Five-Part Video Marketing SEO Series: “Dwell Time.”

Rob Toledo, user engagement and bounce rate specialist with Shutterstock, says:

“No longer just an interesting add-on, video has become an important feature for anyone concerned with SEO, conversion rates or brand recognition. That’s pretty much everyone, then.”

In 2012 Google introduced a new user metric to their ranking algorithm, called “Dwell Time.” It measures user time spent on site to determine if the content is relevant.

This shift toward the usefulness and overall UX of landing pages begs a simple two-part question that is essential to your Video Marketing SEO strategy:

  1. Does your site answer the question of the user?
  2. Does it do so in a clear, timely manner?


If the answer to either question is “No,” you’ll have low dwell time and – despite clever SEO tricks – low Google ranking. Change your dwell time and you change your SEO.

“Wait. Isn’t ‘dwell time’ just a fancy word for bounce rate?” Good question. No.

Dwell time – or time spent on-site – and bounce rate are closely linked, but bounce rate measures irrelevance of search results, while dwell time is a marker for engagement levels with appropriate content. Long dwell time (at least 1-2 mins) is recognition that a search result is relevant to a query.

For instance, SERP for “The Mighty Ducks” might display IMDB, Tumblr fan sites for the film, and a National Geographic article about the fighting mallards of Timbuktu. A user searching for clips from the film would bounce from the NatGeo site within seconds, but would engage with both IMDB and several of the fan sites. The dwell time on each site would help Google determine which has the most relevance to the search term, and they would continue to display that site in SERP for “The Mighty Ducks.”

This relationship between CTR and dwell time is so vital to SERP that Google even toyed with a “block domain” tool, which allowed users to permanently block a site from appearing in future search results once they bounced back to the SERP from the irrelevant domain. Google never took the feature live, but the fact that it existed speaks volumes about their commitment to relevant search results. Talk about bad for SEO!

So how do you counter low dwell time? Three simple techniques keep eyes on the screen:

  1. Relevant SERP Headlines and Meta Data (link-bait doesn’t help anyone)
  2. Intuitive Site Design / Simple UX
  3. Engaging Video Content

Relevant Headlines

Last year Upworthy practically took over both Google SERPs and Facebook’s News Feed with their “curiosity gap” headline writing style. However, high CTR with no poor dwell time can actually hurt your SEO efforts. What’s interesting about Upworthy is that they manage to keep our attention – through compelling video content (more on that later).

Their homepage is literally 100% video. No articles, gifs, ads, or clutter – their marketing strategy centers around video.

Upworthy’s tantalizing headlines hook users into clicking the link (high CTR), and the abundant video on the homepage keeps users on the domain (dwell time). The embedded video structure is crucial – you don’t want to go through all the hard work of creating and spreading captivating video only to send users away from your site to YouTube!

Upworthy Homepage

This content also begs to be shared – and social shares lead to higher user engagement and CTR than traditional marketing tools. It’s a win-win.  Whiteboard animation videos are in a similar space as they can be shared fairly easily as well.

User-Focused Site Design

Above the Fold QuoteNick Carson, over at Creative Bloq, has outlined 10 of his favorite UI site designs (check out the site for all kinds of inspiration), but for me the stand-out for UX is Squarespace (not on his list).

Squarespace’s intuitive site design not only makes it easy for users to browse potential website templates, themes, and domains, but also to understand quickly and easily how the site will benefit their business. The path to conversion is so well manicured, it’s no wonder that Squarespace “powers over 1.8 million websites.

I’ve spent hours testing themes, tools, and layouts for my own projects, and I keep coming back for more inspiration. That’s evergreen SEO at it’s finest.

A final quick UX example is from designer, Paddy Donnelly, and his article “Life Below the Fold.” In this brilliant post he encourages designers to avoid the “samey” design of cramming content above the imagined “digital fold” – the part of a screen before you scroll.Below the Fold Landing Page

He encourages sites to tempt users – almost dares them – to engage with the page through deep scrolling. The thoughtful design of his post (his article scrolls for days) ensures high dwell time and relevance, which makes his article SEO gold for the foreseeable future. It’s a wonderful example of theory in practice.

Video Landing Page

Paper by Fifty-Three (listed in Rob Toledo’s article “10 Websites Using Video Ridiculously Well”) is a revolutionary app that lets you doodle on your tablet in “virtual moleskin” books you create within the app. The UX is fantastic, and the suite of pens, brushes, tools, and features is enough to sell even the most frugal creative. However, the way that you discover all the ground-breaking features – that make you want to buy the app (I did) – is through a two-minute video on their homepage.

Their site design features a header navigation bar and you can scroll down through the various features, but the hook – the only hook in fact – is the video. This is video marketing in its most effective form – a video prominently featured on the landing page, and only one video to explain the product.

The video is the first thing you see on the page, and it guarantees at least two minutes of dwell time – an ideal length for an explainer or brand identity video. This video marketing strategy is SEO that directly converts, which is kind of the whole point.

The Takeaway

If you keep conversion at the forefront when designing UX, you’ll quickly find that these three features – relevant headlines, user-focused design, and upfront use of video – will lead not only to a stellar Video Marketing SEO strategy, but also to an improved bottom line.


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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