How to Optimize Videos for SEO

Videos have clearly become a rage in 2017. Did you know that people watch more than 500 million hours of videos on YouTube every day?

In fact, according to the latest internet trends report by Kleiner Perkins, by 2017, online video will account for 74% of internet traffic.

It takes a lot of effort to create interesting videos that inform & engage your target audience, and it can be disheartening if only a few people watch them.

But, with 300 minutes of videos being uploaded to YouTube every minute, how do you make yours stand apart?

That’s where Video SEO comes in.

Optimizing your videos for search allows you to reach a larger audience and engage them effectively. It enables your videos to rank well in search engine results, for relevant keywords & search phrases.

However, video SEO is a lot different from regular SEO and has significantly changed over the last few years.

Here are 7 ways you can optimize your videos for search

Pick the right video platform

It’s important to choose the right video hosting platform, depending on why you want to rank your videos.

If you’re aiming to build brand awareness through your videos, then YouTube & Vimeo are excellent options. They have the biggest video audiences. However, you should note that once your videos are indexed on these sites, most of your visitors will go to those platforms and not your website.

On the other hand, if you’re aiming to increase your website traffic and generate more leads, then you should consider alternative platforms. For example, Wistia automatically adds an SEO-friendly metadata for your videos, making it easier for them to get indexed and ranked.

Include a video transcript

Did you know that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound?

Include a video transcript (text to be displayed as captions) so that people can consume your videos anywhere, anytime – in office, at home, or while on the move.

Video transcripts also make it easier for search bots to index your videos for more keywords and phrases, by providing additional text on the page. They enable your videos to be ranked for more search queries.

Use an Engaging Thumbnail for your videos

A video thumbnail is a small image you see alongside each video search result and can have a tremendous impact on how many people actually click your videos. Think of it as a book cover or your website’s home page – it needs to be relevant & compelling.

In fact, Wistia found that videos with thumbnails got 40% more engagement and 25% more click-throughs.

Ensure that your video thumbnail is not only attractive but also relevant. For example, here’s what I see when I search “how to waterski”. It is clear that the second search result will get more clicks, as it actually shows a person skiing. The other results only show people sitting on a dock, or in the water, which is neither relevant nor interesting.

how to optimize videos waterski google search

Include Keyword-rich Title, Description & Tags for your video

Just as in regular SEO, the title & description play an important role in ranking your video. So you need to create video titles & descriptions that are relevant, keyword rich and engaging.

First of all, do keyword research to ensure that you’re targeting the right keywords & search phrases with your videos.

Next, make your video title & description interesting. This will ensure that your videos are not only found for the right search queries but also drive more clicks. Also, avoid stuffing too many keywords in your title & description.

Similarly, tags also help search engines understand your video’s topic. They even allow you to include keywords & phrases that you couldn’t fit in your title & description.

Add 5-10 tags that are not only relevant to the content of your video but also reflect how users will discover such a video. For example, Zappos tags its videos as how to dress, 2017 fashion, how to cuff your jeans, etc. because it wants its videos to be found for those search queries.

Avoid including multiple videos on a web page

Did you know that Google only crawls one video per page?

In the example below, each of the 3 YouTube profiles has multiple videos about guitar lessons. Yet Google only indexes one video per page.

how to optimize videos guitar lessons

So it’s best to avoid showing multiple videos on a single page. However, if you really need to do it, then display your best video first.

Also, if you display multiple videos on a page, it can be difficult to optimize it for one specific video.

In fact, Google even recommends that you use a standalone page for each video with a title & description unique to each video.

Optimize Your Web Page around the video

One of the most common reasons why videos don’t get indexed is that they’re simply too difficult to be found.

Many websites make the mistake of keeping their videos hidden, or placing them way down at the bottom, making it difficult for users to find and play those videos.

This brings down the number of people who play your video as well as reduces the average watch time, resulting in a poor user experience.

Even search engines are unlikely to crawl your video if it is small, hidden or hard to find. In fact, according to Google, it’s important to ensure that your videos are visible & easy to find on your page.

The easiest way to ensure that your video is crawled & indexed is to design your entire web page around your video. Here’s an example of how UrbanSitter has built its home page focusing on the video – which is prominently visible, above the fold and easy to find.

how to optimize videos urban sitter homepage as an example

Don’t embed the same video on multiple pages of your website

In regular SEO, it’s advisable not to create multiple web pages that target the same keyword. Why? Because they get indexed and ranked for similar search terms, and unnecessarily compete with each other for search rankings.

Similarly, you shouldn’t embed the same video on multiple pages of your site. Also, if you have a page and a video that are relevant to each other, you should embed your video on that page, instead of elsewhere.

This will ensure that both your video as well as page, rank well for your target keywords.

Hopefully, the above tips will help your videos rank better and be easily discovered by a large audience.

Sreeram SreenivasanAbout the Author

For more than 8 years, Sreeram Sreenivasan has worked with various Fortune 500 Companies in areas of Business Intelligence, Sales & Marketing Strategy. He regularly writes at the Fedingo Blog about a wide range of business growth topics. He’s also the Founder & CEO of Ubiq BI, a cloud-based BI Platform for SMBs & Enterprises.

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