woman looking at various images holographically displayed

Short-Form Video: The Next Level in Search

Everyone searches Google to find answers to questions or get information. Everyone has also either liked, followed, and engaged with short-form videos on one or more social media platforms. Can you imagine how effective short-form video would be if used in search engine results pages (SERPs) on Google when seeking information? Is your brand or business ready?

Google, and its mastery of search via words

Since it began, Google has and remains “read-friendly.” Even with innovations such as searching by voice, for most of its history, Google has been all about words. (Google is where the now familiar term “keyword” became popular.) Words are typed in the search bar to be followed by a list of options on the SERPs. Then, images started appearing either alongside or above text entries when a search was conducted. And most searches are essentially for answers to questions that are basic (e.g., “Where are the nearest takeout restaurants?”) or very specific (e.g., “What are the best Italian cheesecake recipes?”).

Short-form video, and its growing power and popularity

Yes, short-form video—defined as video content with a running time of three minutes (or ideally, less) and created in “portrait” view (i.e., taller as opposed to wider), has taken favorite image-focused social media sites by storm. The impact of video to search engine optimization (SEO) rankings cannot be emphasized enough, as the medium provides benefits that include added traffic, increased time that users will stay on a website, conversions, and an online “ripple effect,” where a spot may be copied and shared with other sites and platforms. And, as Google deftly answers questions via text, educational videos—consisting of “how to” to “DIY” content—accommodate users who want to see what they are seeking to learn.

With the public’s enthusiasm for short-form video, how has Google been using this specialized format for SERPs? It’s complicated…

Google and short-form video, one year ago…

Last year, Search Engine Journal published an article culled from a question-and-answer podcast with Danielle Marshak, Product Manager at Google, along with Gary Illyes and Lizzi Sassman, who are members of the Search Relation Team. Ms. Marshak noted that Google’s plan at the time was to “surface” videos by crawling and indexing them in a fashion similar to that of text and images. One example was a collection of short-form videos which are hosted through Google Web Stories—complete with the capability for users to swipe through different screens as they would on Instagram Stories and TikTok. And speaking of TikTok, it was observed that as TikTok videos have URLs that can be viewed in a web browser, they may be also indexable in search. And then there is the use of words—Google’s specialty—to sync with video…

How does Google “understand” different video content segments?

As discussed in the podcast, there are two basic ways of how the inner workings of Google’s technology are programmed to “understand” the video content:

  1. Text can be extracted from the video through the audio section, which zeroes on the words that are spoken. Then, the words are “sliced up” into relevant parts that can be indexed.
  2. Optical character recognition is another option for extracting text, and involves finding distinct headings, titles, or succinct explanations which can help determine key moments within a video.

Google is at work to incorporate video into SERPS

Video, for all of its effectiveness in reaching online users, is obviously far more complex than text and static images. A lot of detailed information makes up the structure of video—such as audio components, visual signs, and moving images, among other features. Essentially, the inner workings of Google do not lend themselves to indexing short-form video with its same dexterity as text and images. This has placed Google in the “drawing board” phase of testing and experimenting with finding ways of further applying short-form video to search results. When that time arrives, brands and businesses should be ready…

A short-list of the benefits of short-form video

While Google works to discover new and improved ways to understand and index short-form video, brands and businesses should continue—no, intensify—their output of content, as well as knowing when and how to apply it.

The benefits of short-form video to SEO—such as increased traffic and conversions—have already been explained. Want further specifics? As detailed in Search Engine Land, here are three reasons as to why short-form videos are effective marketing tools…

  • Where building brand awareness is concerned, a short-form video will twice as likely be shared—whether to social media or copying and pasting the link into an email—as any other type of content.
  • Short-form videos receive the highest return on investment (ROI) for engagement and lead generation.
  • Along with other carefully curated types of content, these videos are effective enhancements to content strategies and sales content.

Keep in mind that in order for the benefits listed above to come true, there is more to short-form video than simply getting appealing-looking content in the allotted time-frame of three minutes or less. Outside of the physical tasks behind video production, brands and businesses must also follow certain guidelines.

Know what’s topical (or trending)

Staying aware of the most late-breaking trends is practically a job in itself, which is why marketing, creative, social media, and SEO teams should all be in accord in the planning and posting of short-form video content. Topicality can revolve around anything from songs in the top 10 to popular catchphrases that may be utilized to make these videos stand out. The more “on trend” a short-form video is, the better the chances of reaching more people. These teams must make sure, however, that the latest trend that inspires a video is not out of alignment with either the brand that’s being represented or its target audience…

Keeping it real with short-form video

With a maximum of only three minutes to convey a brand’s message through a short-form video, every second and every frame matter. Tying in to an extent with the importance of topicality, one trend that has emerged—and will remain—is the user’s (read: customer’s) demand for authenticity. This is particularly true among members of Generation Z, who are fast becoming the customer base of today. The professional teams behind short-form video planning and creation must prioritize quality and truthfulness over everything else.

“Elevator pitch” of the future

The term “elevator pitch” is defined as making an introduction, expressing one or two important points and creating an impact that leads to a connection. Short-form video may well be regarded as the “elevator pitch” of the future. Between the benefits that short-form video will bring to a brand, along with strong-but-clear guidelines, the marketing, creative, social media, and SEO professionals behind a campaign must stay especially focused. This will mean all the difference to success when Google fully and strongly includes short-form videos in search engine results pages.

If you are new to short-form video as a way to connect your brand to potential customers, get in touch with EGC. Every phase—planning, production, and promotion—happens under one roof. Our diverse teams of marketing, creative, social media, and SEO professionals will be on track with the progression and deployment of your brand’s campaign.

Find out more about the services provided by The EGC Content Studio. Then, check out samples of Instagram Reels created for client Jovia Financial Group.

Get in touch with us. We’ll see to it that your audience—and Google—will like the short-form videos we can create and promote for your brand.