Nailing Video SEO like a Pro – 11 Steps for the Top Spot

Tim Ferguson
June 26, 2019

Marketers spent a few years getting the better of Google ranking algorithms and the smart ones have learned basic Search Engine Optimization by now. However, the world of content marketing has by now moved from plain text to video in a big way. 

Video SEO is a different ball game altogether.

What is Video SEO?

Making a great video isn’t enough. For a video to be truly successful, it needs to be seen by the right people and get high engagement rates to be able to give you a good ROI.

Video Search Engine Optimization improves a video’s visibility online. This means that armed with the right keywords, the target audience will be more likely to find your video on search engines.

Video SEO doesn’t just deal with ranking on Google, but also YouTube, Vimeo, and several other video hosting platforms.

Done right, Video SEO will show these platforms the value of your video and help them understand who it is meant for so that the video can be promoted to the target audience via recommendations, suggested keywords and suggested videos.

Video SEO Tricks To Boost Your View Count

Let’s get to business and show you how you can get your video in front of the right eyeballs with some video SEO best practices:

1. Understand Your Video’s Objective

Before you begin creating video content that you can optimize for SEO, you need to understand how the video fits into your overall marketing strategy. 

What marketing objectives are you trying to achieve with this video? 

  • Want to Increase Conversions?
  • Trying to Boost Your Backlink Game?
  • Spread Brand Awareness?

Once you have a goal set for your video, you can conduct keyword research using YouTube Suggests, YouTube Analytics, Ahrefs, etc. and understand what content your target audience is looking for. You will also be able to single out the keywords that are easier to rank for and make videos around those terms.

2. Choose the Right Platform

Think video marketing and most people just picture YouTube, and rightly so. There are, however, other avenues.

If your goal through the video is to promote brand awareness and ensure that maximum people view, like and share your video, then platforms like YouTube or Vimeo are your master key. In that case, you need to optimize your video for YouTube. 

If however, your goal is to bring traffic to your website using video, note that very few people on YouTube click on an in-video link to visit websites. Most people simply move on to suggested videos.

In this scenario, hosting platforms like Wistia, Vidyard or Hippo Video work great.

3. Video Length

Another important factor search engines use to determine an online video’s ranking is the length of the video. Unless your video is an educational or informational piece, try to keep your videos as short as possible.

This will mean more people will get to the end of your video, signaling to search engines that the content is engaging.

4. File Name

This is a very basic, yet often underestimated step. When you upload a video file, make sure that you’ve changed the file’s name on your system. Renaming the original file to make the filename more keyword centric is a very important task. 

This matters a lot to search engines when they index videos and makes your video easier for the search engines to understand, greatly improving your Video SEO.

5. Optimize For Smartphones

mobile-landing page

According to a study by Wyzowl, only 1% of people say they watch ALL their video content on laptops and desktops. That means that 99% use their mobile phones to watch videos from time to time.

This matters to search engine rankings. Optimizing your video for smartphones is going to improve your video SEO by a large margin.

6. Metadata

If digital marketing for onsite traffic is your priority, you need more than YouTube. You need to rank in organic search results. Got an explainer video for your expert investing solution? Make sure it ranks whenever someone Googles ‘How to invest’!

There are a few ways to do this. You can insert SEO metadata in the video to increase your chances of being indexed. JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data (JSON-LD) is one way to do this.

It helps organize, structure and annotate data using the vocabulary. Alternatively, you could use schema markup or create a video sitemap that you can submit to Google Webmaster Tools to help your video rank.

7. Title and Description

title and description

Of course, there’s the title and the description, which are probably the first thing you’ll begin optimizing. So be sure to optimize your title and description, not only by including keywords in it but also by making them sound exciting and promising.

The title should suggest the solution the video is about to offer. The description too must assure the viewers that your video covers everything they are looking for.

Don’t skip the keyword research to make sure you target the most searched phrases. Leverage the handy YouTube suggestions to get a better idea of what your target audience might be searching for. Make it interesting and compelling.

8. High-Quality Custom Thumbnails


Your thumbnail doesn’t have to be a lackluster, dimly lit screenshot from the video itself. It is the thumbnail that entices viewers to choose your video over the others in the list.

Invest in creating a custom thumbnail for your videos, one that’s compelling and beautiful. Consider taking a custom photograph or creating a graphic for it.

Keep the thumbnail contextual, so it gives an idea of what the video holds. Using text in the thumbnail too can be a great boost for your clickability as well as Video SEO.

9. Transcripts


The video name and description offer you only so much space for optimizing for keywords. Submitting a video transcript not only helps you include more keywords to improve your chances of ranking but also make it easier for the bots to crawl your content and rank those keywords.

These transcripts help Google index your video and bring traffic to your page. On YouTube too, adding a transcript in the description can help get your video ranked higher for relevant search results.

10. Using Your Video On Your Website


There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you upload or embed videos onto a website.

  • To improve SEO page ranking, you should optimally upload just one video per page. Uploading 2 or more videos on the same page diffuses the viewer’s focus between the two, meaning search engines are less likely to give a good ranking to either video.
  • Always ensure that your video is uploaded at the top of the webpage as this tells search engines that the video is a prominent part of that page and will get it a higher ranking.
  • Most importantly, make sure that your video is on a page with relevant content. This shows the search engine that your page is indeed focussed on a niche and contains extensive information, giving the page and the video a higher ranking.

11. YouTube Analytics


When you talk about ranking and optimization, analytics simply cannot stay far behind. Keep a close eye on your video’s performance using YouTube analytics, to find out where your video could use a little fine-tuning.

Monitor the key video metrics like total watch time, user engagement, audience retention and more to find out how viewers are interacting with your videos.

Are they leaving within the first 15 seconds?

Are they sticking around almost till the end but dropping just a tad too early?

Maybe you need to produce shorter videos. Those are some valuable insights you can draw from your YouTube analytics to further finetune your video SEO.

Wrapping up

Ranking your blog posts and ranking your videos are quite distinct. The above steps can help you ensure your videos stay interesting for the search engines, so they rank you high consistently, bringing in a steady supply of traffic and inbound links.

Some things, however, never change. Be it blogs or vlogs, you need to keep your content on-point and engaging, offer real value and answer key questions. So before you go optimizing your videos, ensure that you’ve put all the good stuff in the video, to begin with.

Having done that, these tips will help you ensure that maximum people are able to see that value and appreciate it, rewarding you with engagement, leads, and conversions.

Tim Ferguson

Tim Ferguson is a writer and editor of the Right Mix Marketing blog. He enjoys writing about SEO, content marketing, online reputation management, social media, AI, and Big Data. When he is not writing and editing for Right Mix Marketing, he spends time learning more about content marketing and getting better at it. You can follow him on Twitter at @RightMixMktg.


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