Put yourself in front of the right people by optimizing your video for search! You don’t need to worry about becoming an overnight sensation. Atiba de Souza explains how to focus on connecting with searchers who have you specifically in mind. It’s a simple way to increase your audience and get more meaningful engagement online.
Rich: My guest today is the content Superman. His decades of running an exclusive agency, combined with hardcore technical skills, have made him one of the few people with the skills and insight to marry emerging software and Google’s algorithm with an intuitive feel for the culture of every social media platform.
His clients call him the SEO Super Sleuth, the business ninja, the build your team guru, and the super connector, but you can call him Atiba de Souza. And today we’ll be chatting about SEO tactics for video. Atiba, welcome to the podcast.
Atiba: Hey Rich, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate the opportunity to be here and hang out with you, my friend.
Rich: My pleasure. And I see that you’re leaning into your Superman status with your Superman baseball cap right now. Very excellent. Before we dive into SEO for video, tell me a little bit about your agency and the kind of work you do with clients.
Atiba: Absolutely. That actually bleeds on both sides. Because what we are is a video content marketing agency that specializes in video SEO. And so we have created a white glove approach for our clients. Because a lot of times, clients like to say video is hard. Video is scary. I don’t know how to get into video. I don’t know what to talk about on video. I don’t know what I’m going to look like on video. I hate the way I sound on video. And then the last one, okay, I recorded it, now what? What do I do with it?
We’ve created a white glove service that answers all of those questions, and makes video literally easy, fun, and fast. We need four hours a month from our clients, and we do the rest. We do the entire content strategy, all the research, all the publishing, all the editing, everything. We even help you [inaudible] the video. So that’s what we did.
Rich: Excellent. All right, cool. So you know it from beginning to end, soup to nuts. I think everyone who’s listening now knows that video is a powerful lead generation and sales tool. But there are definitely people out there who are currently using video, but they know they could be doing more. There are others who maybe dabbled, but they’re not consistent. And still others who, like you said, they’re just afraid to get into video. It’s too daunting. So for those people, where do you start? Is it a content strategy first, or is it a let’s go to the channel strategy first?
Atiba: Okay. Life always starts with content strategy. Because content strategy also marries in the other thing that’s super important to us, which is being obsessed with your audience. If you’re creating content that no one cares about, then there’s no point to it. So we always start at the strategy level and the audience level, and then start to look at the channel and then look at what we’re creating.
Now what’s interesting in what you said as you’ve defined it there, which is so rightly true, so we work with people who are just starting out and realize I need video, but I don’t know where to go. But we also work with people who have started, created, and said, I know there’s more that we can do. And we actually show you and work with you with your past videos on how we can get more leverage out of your past videos, and then create new ones that we can leverage really well in the future as well.
Rich: All right. You say you put this focus on the audience first. So what does that look like for the typical content marketer? If we’re thinking that we’re ultimately going to do video, what are the kind of questions we should be asking ourselves, just so we start thinking about the type of content we need to be creating in video form?
Atiba: That’s a really great question. And the question leads to the answer, which is questions. So let me break that down for you. For everyone who’s listening, and I’m going to apologize upfront because this is going to sound so simple, that you’re going to say, “Duh, why didn’t I think of this before? And you didn’t because many of us don’t. But here it is. Your clients when they call you before they become your client, they ask questions. And you have to answer those questions. Truthfully, before they email you or called you, they had questions that they were trying to get answers to before they even chose to pick up the phone or write that email to you or get on chat. Your content strategy starts right there with answering those questions.
Rich: All right, so once we’ve done that work and we feel confident that we know the questions, and hopefully the answers, to put into video content. Obviously, there’s a lot of platforms out there these days. Is there a priority system, or do we create one video and then we cut it down later based on the different platforms? Is there a single right strategy here?
Atiba: Yes, there is. And I know people want to say, “one right strategy”. And there is. You must start with YouTube.
Rich: Why is that?
Atiba: If you’re creating video, it has to go to YouTube. And the answer is very simple. Google owns YouTube. Everyone knows that, that’s not a secret anymore. Google owns YouTube and Google is the largest intent-based search engine in the world. What does all of that mean? Well, people create content or people go to YouTube for one out of two reasons, either to be entertained or to learn something.
Clearly, you’re in business, so you’re not here to entertain. We get that, we’re not talking about that. You’re here to teach someone something with your content. Who wants to learn what you have to teach? Google knows that answer. Now being an intent-based search engine, this is where it gets really important, Rich. And I know you know this, but for the audience, Google is looking to put more videos on page one of search. Google realizes people want to consume video more than they want to read. So where are they going to go first to get that video content, but to the channel that they own, YouTube.
So by putting videos on YouTube, optimizing them on YouTube for Google search and YouTube search, but really optimizing them for Google search. What you’re doing is you are giving yourself a chance to put your video in front of people who had intention behind their search to find you. Please note, I didn’t say a darn thing about getting tons of views and going viral. It’s not what it’s about. It’s about getting eyeballs who are actually looking for you.
Rich: So you we talked about SEO at the beginning, and obviously we’re talking about YouTube owned by Google. So we have to talk about SEO. So what are some of the things we should keep in mind, either before we make the videos as we’re writing the scripts or during creation or even post-production, that are going to improve the SEO of our YouTube videos?
Atiba: So I’m going to tell you a really quick story. And number one, there’s a lot that you can do folks, but I’m going to tell you a really quick story. The story is of a gentleman named Matthew. Matthew saw someone else ask me this question about two and a half, almost three months ago, and I answered the question, and I gave a couple points. Which I’m going to give you in just a moment.
Then I ran into Matthew at an event about a month later. and I was in line for lunch. And Matthew comes up to me excited and Matthew says, “Dude, I took half of your advice that you gave a month ago, and I created a video and I posted it on Monday. And on Tuesday it was ranked number four in Google.” Matthew, three weeks later, sent me another message and said, “Dude, I posted a video yesterday and I took all of your advice, and in three hours it was number one on Google.”
That’s my story. Now, here’s the advice. When you are creating that content strategy where we’re answering questions that your customers are asking. Number one, when you create the video, the title of the video, the YouTube title of the video, I don’t care about your thumbnails. The YouTube title of the video is that question. Do not change the words. Do not change the language. Do not. It is that question just as your customer asked it.
Number two, when you write the description for your video, within the first two sentences of the description, include the question.
Number three, sticking with the description here for a moment. One of the most interesting pieces of advice that people give that is absolutely wrong is, write your YouTube description so it entices people to want to watch your video. Let me ask you, when was the last time you read a description before you watched the video? It doesn’t happen. No one does that, right? To lengthen how long the description can be so that you can write more, summarize your entire video, go back through all of your points in there. Because all of that matters for the SEO on google.com. That’s the third point.
The fourth, upload a transcription of your video. Do not… let me say it again… do not let YouTube auto transcribe your video. Oh, but it’s so easy, I just click a button. Yeah, I get that. But it’s only about 70% correct. Only about 70% accurate. You don’t get to choose which 70% is accurate and which 30% isn’t. Suppose it’s the most important parts of your video that is inaccurate. You’re screwing your own SEO in that way. You transcribe your video. There are tons of services that will do it. I know Rich probably has some recommendations. I do if you need them as well, that will do that for you. Upload your transcript.
And then the last one. And this is the most critical one and the one that people miss the most. Because maybe you’ve heard of all the others, but this is the one that people miss the most. And it’s hysterical that we all miss it. You’re answering a specific question that someone asked you. Repeat the question multiple times in the video. So often we start a video, “Hey, today I’m going to talk about this”, and that’s the last time we ever say those words in the whole video. Repeat the question multiple times. Those are my five tips for you.
Rich: Excellent. All right. So if we do that and we have an outcome like Matthew did and we start ranking really well, do you have any advice for how do we get people off of YouTube and then over to our website so we can keep that relationship growing? Is it a verbal call to action? Is it something else? What do you usually do for your clients?
Atiba: Yeah, so it has to be a verbal call to action. Now the thing to understand… that’s a really great question. The thing to understand is, what does YouTube care about? YouTube cares about time on site, right? Watch time. They want people to watch. The other metric that they care about that’s just as important to them, is how many videos did this video cause someone to watch. That gets really tricky now when we’re trying to get someone off of YouTube.
And so we have to realize, and this is where now why you hire somebody like me, where there are some videos that you design that the call to action is to watch another video. Because we need the algorithm to love us. And then there’s some videos that you’re going to design where the call to action – and it’s going to be a verbal call to action – is to leave the platform to go down to the description. “Now below where I’ve linked to X, Y, Z, and click the link.” So not every video is going to say, “go click the link”, because not every video needs to force someone off platform.
Now, little bit more into strategy. This is where Shorts has helped us tremendously. Because you can build Shorts that then point to long form video, and then long form video that leaves the site. And YouTube is happy with that.
Rich: So I was going to ask you about Shorts. Obviously, they haven’t been around for very long compared to the rest of the platform. For those people who aren’t on YouTube a lot, I would say that they’re like Reels, they’re like Stories. They’re that vertical format as well, I believe. What are some strategies specifically around the Shorts, and how do they differ perhaps than the traditional YouTube videos?
Atiba: So number one you’re right, there are vertical. Number two, they are going to be less than one minute. So you’ve got to make your point quickly. In a traditional YouTube video, you’ve got 15 to 30 seconds to hook of a viewer. In a Short, you’ve got three seconds to hook a viewer. So they’ve got to punch. And they’re actually closer to TikTok in terms of how they’ve got a punch than Reels. Because on Instagram, people are a little bit more patient. For whatever reason they are, then they are on TikTok. And Shorts sit closer to the TikTok side where you’ve got to punch, you’ve got to hit them right away. So that’s number one.
Number two, what we’ve done this year with Shorts has proven client after client, that Shorts are a great way to get people to watch your long form video. Then in the midst of all of our experiment, YouTube came out and said, our whole point is to get people to watch Shorts and then watch a long form video.
Rich: Are you saying that Shorts then should be considered almost to be the trailers for movies?
Atiba: Yes, they can be. Now again, remember, let’s be careful here. Because I’m not making a blanket statement. People come to YouTube for one out of two reasons, entertainment or education. We’re not talking about the entertainment side. Those are not trailers to movies that is just entertaining you for 60 seconds. As a business owner though, yes, that’s exactly how you need to look at your Shorts. Your Shorts need to be the trailers that get someone, whets their appetite just enough to want to go listen to your 15 minute, your 20-minute video. Because people don’t want to invest 20 minutes in you unless you’re going to give them something great. But that’s what a Short allows you to do.
Rich: All right. Listen, I want to take a step back now, because we kind of talked a lot about YouTube. I want to take a step back to when we’re actually creating these videos. We’ve already said, even on YouTube, there’s horizonal, there’s vertical video. Obviously, TikTok is vertical, Reels are vertical. When you are creating your videos, are you basically doing two versions – one for vertical or landscape, one for portrait – or are you basically just, is it an editing process? How do you approach that problem?
Atiba: Yeah. So if you’re just starting out creating one, and if you’re creating for YouTube – which is what I’m going to suggest that you do upfront – is you’re going to create the landscape version, not the vertical version upfront. Because we can edit later your Shorts or anything else into vertical. That’s my advice if you’re just starting out.
If you have a team, if you’re used to creating content, then yes, create for both. At this point of my career, I create for both. Matter of fact, I don’t just create for both. I create vertical and horizontal for almost every channel, except TikTok, obviously. But that’s because I create a ton of content, this is what I do. If you’re just starting out, create the landscape. Only the wide format only, and then edit it.
Rich: So beyond YouTube, which is one of my favorite places to hang out online, there’s also obviously other channels where we can engage people. And in the B2B world it’s LinkedIn. On the B2C world, it’s more TikTok and some of the other platforms. Any specific strategies around channel-specific video or about SEO for those social platforms?
Atiba: Yeah. Great question. So number one, if you’re just starting out, you’re going to create the video for YouTube and then repurpose that video for all the other channels. Same video, same content. If you’re just cutting it down to vertical, fine. Don’t go and get fancy. Don’t at all go and get fancy if you’re just starting out. If you’ve been in this for a while and you’re starting to look at some advanced stuff on what we want to do, then yes. Every single channel is different.
We’re currently in the lab right now figuring out how to master this for TikTok on the SEO side. Because TikTok SEO is the newest on the block. The absolute newest on the block, and a place where we have really great opportunity. And one of the greatest opportunities, I’ll tell y’all a little secret. Lean in here with me, I’m going to tell y’all a little secret. One of the greatest opportunities we have with TikTok and TikTok SEO is on Google.com. Yes, I said that on Google.com. Because TikTok decided that they wanted to become a search engine, and Google said, fine, go for it. Have fun. All your contents in the public domain, Google is now indexing TikTok video and putting them on page one. And I’m not talking about viral videos, I’m talking about true education-level videos on page one, answering people’s questions. So that’s what we’re in the lab figuring out right now, how to make that work.
Now, Instagram’s heyday is gone. Let’s just call it what it is. Can you still do stuff on Instagram? Yes, absolutely you can. But Meta wants you to pay. You want traffic on Instagram, you got to pay for it. The search algorithm there at this point sucks because you are stuck with hashtags that are mostly always all saturated or dead. And it becomes really hard to get your content found. They put a lot of money, obviously, in Reels. And that has worked some. The people who got in earlier worked really well, but right now it’s hit or miss on how you’re doing on Reels. LinkedIn is, I call LinkedIn the enigma, to be honest with you. Because it’s geared so much to your network and less to people search. And we’ve not cracked that code, to be completely honest.
Rich: Is your approach then, Atiba, to think more about search and discovery when it comes to videos? Because obviously there’s more than one approach. And I’ve had people on the show where it’s all about building community, and other ones it’s about building trust. And I’m not saying that you don’t also do that. But your focus is, I’m going to answer people’s questions, I’m going to do it in video format, and this is how I begin the relationship and then I feed them over to my website or wherever I want to go. Would you say that’s accurate in terms of your mentality when it comes to video?
Atiba: It’s a hundred percent accurate. And it’s accurate because there was a major study done back in the 1950’s. And one of the things that proved is that people are 90% more likely to blindly – and hear that word ‘blindly’ – follow the first person to educate them on a topic. So from a business perspective, that means if I can educate my consumer first, they’re more likely to blindly follow me.
Let me give you a true example of that. I started studying PPC over a decade ago on a website that I accidentally ended up on called WordStream.
Rich: Very familiar with it.
Atiba: Oh yeah. We all are at this point. But I just made a recommendation to WordStream to someone yesterday. I haven’t used WordStream in over a decade. But because they first educated me on PPC 12 years ago, however long ago it was, I still think that they’re a great place to go back to. That’s how human nature works.
Rich: There’s a lot of filters out there. A lot of ability to add text to videos. And I think this is where sometimes people get bogged down. It’s that extra work. And I’m just curious about how far you think we should go to make our videos look good or add sizzle to them, because of what maybe we see on TikTok versus just… and obviously your audience matters. B2B versus B2C matters. But just in terms of what you’re seeing out there, how much does that visual pizzazz add or distract from your message? And what are you currently recommending to your clients when it comes to that like TikTok-ization of video these days?
Atiba: I like that term, by the way.
Rich: Good. Because I totally stumbled over it.
Atiba: TikTok-ization. I’m going to have to borrow that.
Rich: All right. Steal it away.
Atiba: Okay, so that’s a really great question, Rich, because we get that a lot. And part of that has to do with the fact that we’re always comparing ourselves to someone else and saying, “I can’t do this because they’re so good”, and that stops us.
Here’s the deal, here’s the deal. If you are at a place right now where you don’t have video, you’ve not shot any video, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to go get this thing that you have in your hand called a phone. You may be listening to us right now on this thing called the phone. And I want you to turn that phone on, open the camera, go to the video setting and turn it on, and answer the question that someone has asked you. Record yourself answering that question. Then go to the YouTube app, upload that video, and put the title of the video as the question. That’s as blinged out as you need to be right now inside of your first 30 videos. That’s far as you need to go.
Rich: Steak before sizzle. Love it.
Atiba: Yes. Okay. That’s as far… you don’t need to worry about anything else right now other than producing content. Because here’s the deal. Here’s the deal. When somebody shows up to your business and asks you a question, you don’t get up and go and say, “Oh, let me check my hair, let me check my makeup. Is this the right shirt that I’m wearing? How much sizzle and bling can I put on to answer their question?” You never do that in real life. Nothing changes here in video in that sense for you right now. Nothing changes.
Now, once you’ve done that and you started creating those videos on a regular routine and basis. And this is what we do still to this day. We do look at some other people in terms of what they do and how they do and say, you know what? We like this aspect of this, not their whole video. I like this aspect. You know what? I like that this person introduces themselves. Okay, now I’m going to go back and tweak my next video and see, can I introduce myself that way. Okay, I like the way they have this animation slide in or this effect. Okay. Can we, is that something that, that fits us? And do that. And you add incrementally.
You don’t have to become, and it’s hysterical as I see it all the time, create Hormozi-like Reels. Lemme just tell you, I know Alex Hormozi. We’ve had this conversation. He didn’t start off creating Hormozi-like Reels. He started off with just a video, and then they just kept adding stuff. And so you’re comparing to his end saying, I’ve got to be like his end. And you can’t. Not yet.
Rich: Good advice. Atiba, this has been brilliant. I love this approach to video. If people want to learn more about you, learn more about your agency, where can we send them online?
Atiba: So the best thing to do, because I know you’ve got questions and I want to answer your questions, I really want to answer your questions. I want to give you that platform. Go to meetatiba.com. That’s Meet A T I B A – B as in boy – .com. That’s going to take you directly to my LinkedIn. When you get to my LinkedIn, what I want you to do is don’t hit the follow button, hit the ‘connect’ button. Connect with me, and then send me a message. Send me a message, ask me a question. Let’s have a real conversation, one-on-one, human to human.
Rich: Awesome. And we’ll have those links in the show notes. Atiba, an absolute pleasure today. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise.
Atiba: Rich, thank you, my friend. Appreciate you, sir.
Atiba de Souza understands the struggles many have around creating video content. He believes that video doesn’t have to be complicated to be successful. Connect with him on LinkedIn for the latest on video marketing, content, and SEO.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.