How to optimise video for SEO

How to optimise video for SEO
Reading Time: 7 minutes

When it comes to Search Engine Optimisation, videos can be a hugely powerful tool. Not only does video bring more engagement to your blog posts and pages, it’s often an easier way for customers to digest your message.

Watching a well-written, 90-second video is a lot easier than wading through pages of copy.

In this article, I’ll give you an overview of the key factors involved in optimising videos for SEO.


The statistics tell us that your customers love videos

According to comScore:

  • 45% of internet users watch at least one video a month
  • The average internet user is exposed to 32.2 videos a month
  • 100 million videos are watched each day
  • 90% say they find watching a video helps when making shopping and buying decisions

And, according to Forbes, 50% of executives watch videos at least once a week, and 65% will visit a marketer’s website after viewing a video.

Okay so let’s get stuck in.

I’m going to assume you’ve already written, recorded and edited your video. So, what’s next?


Choosing a host

YouTube is the obvious choice as it is the second largest search engine, Videos hosted here are also shown in the blended search results. YouTube enables you to host videos privately and embed them in your site.

(I host the videos for The Recipe for SEO Success eCourse with Vimeo. I find the interface a little easier to use.)


How YouTube ranks videos

Just like the core Google algorithm, no one has an exact answer to how YouTube ranks videos, but we can safely guess that their algorithm includes:

  • How often a video has been viewed
  • How long the video was viewed *
  • The number of positive rankings
  • The number of subscribers the video creator has
  • How often the video is shared
  • How often the video is added to a playlist
  • How often the video is embedded on a third party site


So, just as with other content, the more you ‘get it out there’, and the more people who see it, the better it will do in terms of ranking.


you tube ranking factors


* YouTube considers a video viewed after eight seconds of runtime, so ensure your video has enough OOMPH to get people past that first few seconds.


So how do you optimise videos for SEO? 

Okay, here are my top eight tips for search-engine-friendly video optimisation:


 1. Choose your keywords carefully

As with standard content, you need to tell the Google bots what your content is about, and this is where keywords come in. Once you’ve chosen a primary keyword phrase (and a few nice little synonyms to go with it), then use it in:

  • The video title
  • The video description
  • The video tags

Again, just as with traditional content, you don’t want to over do it. A light sprinkle is enough.

If your content is new, you might struggle to get to the top spot, but remember – you could still get secondary views via related content.


 2. Write a strong video title

how to make videos SEO friendly

Just as with blog content, great headlines matter. And a click-worthy headline can often achieve far more than one that’s stuffed with keywords.

Take the time to write a catchy video title – perhaps test a few out before making your final choice.

You can have up to 99 characters of text in your title. Try to include your primary keyword phrase (but only if it sounds good) as well as your brand.

Check out this article for more advice on writing great headlines.


 3. Write a detailed description

seo video optimising

Just as with images, the YouTube bots can’t actually watch your video, so they uses other elements to decide what your video is about – the main clue being your description.

Make sure your description is detailed, engaging and interesting – for humans and bots. And although you have up to 5,000 characters, I recommend going for a shorter, sweeter description – think of it as a snappy sales pitch for your video.


 4. Include tags


Tags are another way of helping the YouTube bots understand your video content. Use your primary keyword phrase here, as well as those synonyms. Think hard about your customers and what they’d type in to find a video like yours. Include these terms and your brand over course.


5. Set your broadcast and sharing options

Work through the options here:

  • Privacy: You may choose to set your videos to ‘Private’ while working on them prior to an official launch date or campaign, just don’t forget to change them to ‘Public’!
  • Comments:It’s up to you whether you want to enable comments. Just remember: if you disable commenting, users will go elsewhere to talk about your video, your brand, or your message
  • Ratings:These have a direct impact on your rankings, so make sure you set this option to “Yes”
  • Embedding:Blogs and social media shares really boost views and help your message get to new audiences outside of YouTube. It’s a good idea to keep this option enabled
  • Syndication:Again, this option may boost your views and will help your video rank higher in YouTube and Google, so keep it enabled


6. Embed on your website

search optimisation for videos

Once your video is all set up on YouTube, you can use the Embed code to put it into your site.
Switch over to the Text mode and drop the Embed code where you want the video to appear – the video will then auto-resize depending on the browser viewing it.


7. Share your video on social media


Videos do super well on Facebook in my experience, so be sure to share yours there. You should encourage your followers to share the video.


8. Ask for ratings and subscriptions

Actively encourage users to share and rate your video as well as leaving comments. Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

At the end of your video, give people a strong call to action that encourages them to subscribe.

Also, don’t forget to rank it yourself (shh! I won’t tell anyone).



Advanced video optimisation tactics

If you want to take your video optimisation to the next level, you can try a few of these top tactics:


 1. Choose video keywords

Of course, ranking well on YouTube is great, but ranking well on YouTube and Google would be awesome, right? I mentioned above that some videos end up in the blended search results, but this only true when you type in certain keywords.

search engine optimisation

Here’s an example: Try typing ‘cute piglets – into Google Search. This will almost certainly result in a few video results. Why? Well, people who type this in don’t want to READ about cute piglets, they want to see them doing cute things.

Compare this to something more straightforward like ‘piglet food’, and you’ll see there are no video results at all.


So, when you’re deciding on your video keywords, check first to see if there are any video results for them on the first page. If there are, this is a strong indication that your chosen keywords in a golden VIDEO KEYWORD.


2. Create keyword-rich playlists

Keep your YouTube channel nice and neat by organising your videos into playlists. Creating keyword-rich playlists helps YouTube understand your video topics. You’ll need about 8-10 videos to make this worthwhile.


 3. Share your videos in online communities

There are heaps of good communities out there, and they can be fantastic places to drive traffic to your site. Most community Admins get a little sniffy if you continually drop links to your website, but from experience I’ve noticed they actually seem to like it when you share useful YouTube videos.

Be sure to have a list of your video URLS to hand when you’re spending time in the communities, or search through the topics to find opportunities to mention your awesome videos!


4. Use transcriptions

If you’re embedding the video on your own website, consider adding a video transcription alongside it. Some people prefer to read and some like to watch, so giving people both options is a great way of helping your customers out.

Also, obviously the transcript is crawlable content and probably packed with keyword richness.


5. Add a video sitemap

If you’re using a lot of video on your site, then it’s a good idea to include a video sitemap – you can generate one here. Read more about video sitemaps here.


Don’t forget your customer

As with all good SEO, the real key to success is to answer customers’ questions, challenge beliefs and address fears. Great content, even it’s really badly optimised will do well just because it helps customers achieve their goals more easily by being faster, better and cheaper.


Over to you 

Do you take the time to optimise your videos? Has creating and using videos had an impact on your SEO? Please let me know if the comments below:

  1. Gerry White

    One thing missing is opengraph and twitter card meta data, otherwise this is one of the best articles I’ve read on video seo in a while!

    • Kate Toon

      Hey Gerry, thanks for pointing that out. It’s hard to know where to stop with beginner level blogs but I’ll plan an edit to include those in the ‘advanced’ section. Thank you for reading.

  2. Chris Ellison

    Just curious – who’s Barry Toon?

    • Kate Toon

      Barry is my real name 🙂

  3. Lilly Edmunds

    I loaded a video on my website yesterday on how to wear one of my products. What I don’t like is that you have “suggested videos” at the end of my video. It does’t look professional. Is there a way to not have this?