Videos can be very effective online content. Beyond creating and posting video, you need to take steps to ensure search engine optimization (SEO) for your videos.
Just like text content, you need to take steps so your videos appear in the regular search results for the keywords you want them to appear for. You need to optimize for visibility for video and universal search as well as for visibility on platforms like YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Choose the Right Platform
Don’t assume having videos on YouTube will mean they will rank better in search because Google owns YouTube. You can get videos to rank no matter what platform you post them to.
There are several video hosts, including Vimeo and Wistia. Choose the one that has features and policies that are the best fit for your business. They all have the elements needed to support SEO for your posts.
Hosting your video on YouTube has the added benefit of it appearing in the search results on that platform. Since YouTube has a huge audience (larger than Facebook), that can be very beneficial. YouTube has the disadvantage that it hardly sends traffic to your site, so that’s something to keep in mind.
Optimizing Video for Search Engines
Google presents search results that the algorithm determines to best match the searchers intent. This means that some results include videos, while others do not.
If you search for your video topic, and you don’t see videos listed in the results page, there’s a good chance that Google won’t find video content as valuable as other types of content for that topic.
If you want traffic to your videos from the search results pages, you need to get your videos ready to rank on Google. There are some best practices that should help you get started.
As with all other types of content, define the keywords for your video. These should be used within the video as well as in the title and accompanying description.
Use one or more keywords in the title and description. These content elements need to be enticing as well so that people click on your search result. Make titles and descriptions unique, especially if you have several videos that are similar.
Ideally, you want to make sure that you target only one video for a keyword. If you have multiple videos on the same subject, you make it harder for search engines to understand which video to pick.
Attract Clicks with the Video Thumbnail
The thumbnail you see in search results is one of the most important parts of video SEO. It is the first thing people see, and it’s the main part of what they base their intention to click on — together with the title and description. To get Google to show your video in search, use a high-quality attractive thumbnail, correctly formatted in the right aspect ratio. Size can be anything from 160×90 to 1920×1080 pixels.
Add a Transcript
Text and speech recognition has improved, but it is still a good idea to provide your transcript for your video. This goes for both YouTube and the page on your site you want to embed the video on.
A full transcript of the content on the page you want to rank instantly makes everything available to search engines. And, of course, it makes your content available for people who’d rather read what you have to say than watch a video.
Focus the Page on the Video
If you want a video to rank well, be sure the video is the start of the pages where it appears. This signals to people and to search engines that the video is central to the content you offer. Give your video a dedicated page with supporting content.
Apply General SEO to the Video Page
The video must be great, but the page it is embedded on has to be awesome as well. Your page and your content must provide the best possible experience and valuable content. Be sure to follow SEO best practices.
Add Structured Data
Search engines use structured data to get a better understanding of your site, your content, and you as an entity. This also goes for your videos.
Adding the VideoObject structured data will help search crawlers. Structured data also makes your videos eligible for inclusion in Google Images and Google Discover.
Make Sure your Videos Are Crawlable
The pages that have video content and the videos themselves must be crawlable by search engines. If you host them on your site, don’t apply noindexing and don’t block resources in robots.txt. You can use XML sitemaps especially for videos to announce their availability to search engines.
Optimizing on YouTube
YouTube optimization is all about optimizing the video itself and the surrounding metadata on the platform. YouTube is more of a discovery engine than a search engine. Discovery of content happens through the sidebar, recommended videos, and other elements of the platform that aren’t directly tied to the search feature.
Just as with search engine SEO, there are many factors that determine how a video ranks on YouTube. Key ranking factors are believed to be:
- Great content
- Fields completed using keywords
- Appealing title
- Appealing thumbnail image
- Overall channel popularity
- Audience retention and other engagement metrics