Does Video Enhance Predictive Search?

Google introduced auto-complete more than 10 years ago, so predictive search has been a staple of search engines seemingly forever. But since YouTube has become the second largest search engine, predictive search has spread to video as well.

Travelzoo, a publisher of travel deals that also works as a search engine, recently put out a series of videos, #tzootips, focused on things like the best time of year to travel to Thailand, the cheapest night of the week to stay in a hotel, and when to fly to avoid delays. In their own way, the videos are predictive, answering the kinds of questions consumers would search on Google.

“There’s always push and pull with information,” says Justin Soffer, vice president of marketing at Travelzoo. “A lot of what search is, is people pulling – meaning they’re looking for something specific. What videos are doing is more of a push, telling people what to look for and showing them things.”

He adds that video is generally more personal than written content, since viewers are able to see and hear someone. That makes video particularly persuasive, which adds to its value in the search space, in addition to giving Travelzoo a boost in authority.

“Say someone saw [the video about the best day to stay in a hotel] and then next week, they want to plan a trip with their friends,” Soffer says. “Maybe they otherwise would have chosen to go Friday or Saturday, but after seeing that video they changed their search to Sunday night. It’s a very persuasive platform to share information and that impacts search activity as well.”

Greg Jarboe, president of SEO-PR, believes that video can enhance predictive search. In order for search marketers to best leverage it, he recommends going on Google Trends and checking out the evergreen search terms.

“When you’re putting together a campaign, it doesn’t hurt to know if my search term here is one that has legs,” Jarboe says. “If I’m going to create video around something – and if someone searches for something you’ve got, shame on you if you don’t have a video that tells them you’ve got it – I want people to find it, not just when it goes up but next year too.”

Ryan Johnson, director of search at Chicago content agency Imagination Publishing, also believes video can enhance predictive search but in a different way. Johnson thinks video can be indirectly beneficial, since it can give you a rankings boost, as Google tends to prioritize sites with rich media. In addition, the increasing popularity of both voice search and how-to videos intersect at predictive search. The way most people talk, they’re more likely to ask Siri or Cortana a question, rather than make a statement.

That query increases the likelihood of a how-to video being at the top of the SERP. Johnson adds that many search marketers seem to be moving toward problem-based searches.

“The move toward problem-based searches seems, at least in part, to be predictive, and tied to the idea of people thinking about how they search for things,” Johnson says. “You wouldn’t use video to look up the best electronics store in Chicago, but you would use video to ask, ‘How do I do something?’ or ‘What does this do?’

“Moving forward, you’re probably going to see more video content being written for predictive search, and more and more YouTube videos come up in searches,” he adds. “The nature of video and the way in which people use video gives you an advantage.”

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