When I mention live streaming to my clients, they often react dismissively. Usually they know someone who started steaming on Periscope or Twitch and then gradually lost interest. That’s what happens when you jump on the latest trend without considering your ROI. Now, I would never suggest using a new tool or platform simply because everyone else is doing it. But live streaming absolutely represents real value for brands right now, and there are stats to prove it.
On Facebook, 78 percent of audiences are already watching live video regularly. Not only that, but live videos are a great way to beat Facebook’s notoriously fickle algorithm: One study found that live videos on Facebook generate 600 percent more interactions than pre-recorded videos.
I have no doubt that there are plenty of savvy marketers who have already figured this out and are incorporating livestreams into their marketing mix right now. But there’s one other reason I recommend live streaming to my clients that is not widely known: Livestreams are great for SEO.
One of the reasons live streams perform so well on Facebook is because the site actually updated its ranking algorithm in 2016 to give preference to live videos in Facebook Graph Search results. Additionally, YouTube—the number two search engine by query volume right behind Google—promotes YouTube Live videos to the top of relevant search results while the video is live on air. This should come as no surprise: Live video is the type of content that social networks (and search engines) love. It brings their users the absolute latest information available, and the high audience engagement means that it keeps people on the site for longer, which means more ad views and more ad revenue.
If you’re new to live streaming, there are plenty of platforms available. If you’re looking for maximum SEO impact, I’d recommend sticking with Facebook and YouTube. While some have found success with smaller sites, you’re likely to restrict your audience size or be limited by niche functionality (Instagram live streams disappear after 24 hours).
Both Facebook and YouTube’s services are relatively straightforward, and it should only take a few minutes to get set up for streaming. However, there are a few details you need to get right. Most importantly, both Facebook and YouTube allow you to embed your streams, which is essential since you’re going to want to send people to a URL on your website.
So, what are the main factors you need to consider when utilizing live streaming as part of your SEO strategy?
First off, when setting up your stream, make sure you include keywords in the title and description. (You can use Google Trends to do keyword research for YouTube.) Search engines still can’t understand audio, so they need text cues to help them categorize your video properly. Titles that are too clever or obscure could result in your stream not being indexed properly, if at all.
Quality is also important. You don’t need to spend thousands on HD equipment, but you do need to make sure the sound is clear and crisp and the image is focused and free from glitches. Poor quality will send your engagement down the tubes.
Next, put some thought into your content. Your main goals should be to generate backlinks and maximize watch time. To do that, your stream will need to be remarkable in some way.
Naturally, live streaming is a better fit for certain types of content. If you’re attending a conference, giving a talk or running a workshop, why not live stream it for people who can’t make it? Set up a dedicated page on your site where the stream will be embedded (with the keyword/event name in the URL) so people can easily link to it. Other formats that work well for live streaming are exclusive interviews (why not live stream your podcast?), sports matches or online gaming and live music or comedy.
Since your stream is happening live, you will automatically become the most up-to-date news on that topic, person or event, which gives you an excellent chance of snagging the number one spot on Google or YouTube or bubbling up to the top of Facebook users’ newsfeeds.
You don’t have to rely on live events, however. Other content that can work well are things like how to videos, cooking shows or science experiments and man-on-the-street interviews. Of course, if you’re not piggybacking off an event or celebrity, you’re going to want to create a strong viral hook to ensure you stand out from the crowd.
Another reason live streams are excellent for SEO is that they are often quick and easy to create and can be repurposed across your site and social accounts. For example, once the live stream is complete, make sure you embed the final video to your site along with a transcript of the audio (remember, search engines love text). Then, consider creating a short highlight video for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. You can even pull a few choice quotes to create social media images or overhaul the transcript into an article or blog post that you can pitch to a notable publication (with a link back to your site, of course!).
If you haven’t started live streaming, then it’s time to embrace the future. If you have, then make sure you consider SEO as a part of your live streaming strategy. Working live video into your marketing mix is a great way to create engaging content that can cut through social and search algorithms and boost traffic and rankings. And best of all, it’s quick, easy and (usually) cheap.