Video SEO: Optimizing Videos for Search and Discovery

Video SEO: Optimizing Videos for Search and Discovery

Very few things can match the joy of seeing your videos rank high and perform better. Conversely, it can be quite frustrating to see them lagging behind the much inferior ones from competitors.

Effective video SEO can be the key factor in launching your videos to success. Optimizing videos ensures your content reaches the right audience, maximizing its visibility.

With millions of videos uploaded every day, it’s time to start video optimization today to increase the chances of higher ranking and better discoverability.

If you’re wondering where to start, don’t worry, we have you covered. Continue reading, and by the end of the article, you’ll have a video SEO guide to impress the search engines and attract the audience.

What Is Video SEO?

Thinking about video SEO, we are reminded of the insightful words and astute observations of George Berkeley in his work, ‘A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge.’ According to him, ‘The objects of sense exist only when they are perceived.’

Similarly, videos acquire value only when they are discovered by people. You might have the best content, but it’s only beneficial to your business if it reaches the appropriate audience.

Video SEO involves optimizing your videos so that search engine crawlers pick up the content, index and rank it for relevant keywords, and ultimately rank it higher for keywords used by people on Google or other search engines.

Why is video SEO necessary? For the same reason we optimize our blogs: to reach a broader and more pertinent audience.

What does this accomplish? Video SEO helps you garner more views and website visitors, increase engagement and subscribers, and convert viewers into leads and, ultimately, paying customers.

What else can video optimization help achieve? Video SEO makes your videos more enticing to search engine users, prompting them to click on your videos rather than competitors’ content.

Understanding the Search Algorithm

The actual recipe of a search algorithm is as secret as the Coca-Cola formula. However, it is confidently known that companies such as Google, Microsoft, YouTube, etc., utilize a complex formula to discover, index, and present the most relevant and engaging videos to users. While the exact algorithm remains undisclosed, just like a business plan, all search engines prioritize certain elements of video content. Here are some key factors:

Relevance: Gone are the days when keywords were the sole relevant factor in blogs and videos. Seeing content creators manipulate search engine systems with excessive keyword usage, companies have adjusted. Nowadays, algorithms consider various elements such as video description, title, meta tags, and even video transcripts to comprehend the video and cater to the user’s search intent.

Engagement: Algorithms evaluate an array of engagement signals to determine whether the content resonates with viewers. These signals include views, likes, shares, and comments. Notably, higher engagement and longer watch times lead to better video performance on search engine pages.

Channel Authority: This may seem unfair for individuals who self-host their videos or are new to video marketing. However, established channels with loyal subscribers, an engaged audience, and a consistent history of video creation tend to have higher channel authority. Hence, receiving preference from search engine algorithms.

Technical Factors: Algorithms expect content creators to optimize video titles, descriptions, tags, etc., to make the content appealing to both search engines and audiences. This also involves using attractive custom thumbnails and effective calls-to-action, both can be added using editors in-house or through video editing outsourcing.

User Behavior: This aspect remains beyond your control. Search engines rank and present videos based on the user’s viewing history and preferences.

These are just a few of the signals that search engine algorithms take into account when indexing and ranking videos. It underscores the importance of creating videos that resonate with the audience and adhere to search engine rules for better ranking, discoverability, and success.

Whether you’re running a tutorial channel, a product review channel, or even advertising your fitness apparel brand, understanding and applying these factors can significantly boost your video’s performance in search results.

11 Video SEO Tips to Improve Search and Discovery

In this highly competitive environment, where most businesses utilize video marketing, merely publishing your videos won’t suffice. They won’t rank higher, attract an audience, or drive traffic.

Utilizing video SEO is essential to enhance the discoverability of your content and reach your target audience effectively. Below are 11 tips to assist you in climbing the search ranks and being discovered by your target viewers.

1. Research the Audience, Keywords, and Popular Topics

This is advice you should heed well before hitting the record button. Before creating each video, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your audience and what they seek. Once you’ve defined your audience, identify the relevant keywords they are likely to search for.

There’s no shame in learning from your competitors; in fact, it can be a shortcut to success. Analyze popular videos and trending content within your niche from competitors and others.

For keyword and audience research, you don’t need to use premium software. You can accomplish plenty of optimization work directly from your browser using various Google Chrome extensions for SEO.

SEO tools will provide you with valuable insights into the type of content that resonates with your audience. Video content that aligns with the needs and preferences of your audience will be favored by search engines, thus increasing its discoverability.

2. Decide the Right Video Hosting Platform

If you’re new to video marketing, YouTube might seem like the only option. However, this assumption is incorrect; the choice should depend on the goal you want to achieve.

For instance, if a video aims to create brand or product awareness, then YouTube is indeed the ideal platform to host the content, given its unmatched reach. Conversely, if you intend to drive traffic to a website or landing page, self-hosting would be a better choice. Why? Hosting content on a video-sharing platform often diverts traffic away from your website.

But there’s an even better option than self-hosting. Video marketing platforms like Wistia, Vidyard, and Vimeo allow you to host content and publish it on your web pages. One of the biggest advantages of using services such as Wistia is that they automatically append SEO metadata such as JSON-LD to videos, providing search engines with information about the page.

3. Make Awesome Videos

Again, this advice should be a no-brainer. Google and other search engines prefer high-quality videos. In the present context, ‘high-quality’ means ‘quality content’ and videos of high production value.

While most people have a fairly good idea of what ‘high production value’ means, their views on ‘quality or informative content’ might differ. Certainly, what I might consider an informative video may differ from what you would.

For example, people searching for a laptop for occasional use at home might find a video on basic laptop features and specifications sufficient. In contrast, you need to provide an in-depth analysis of laptop speed, performance, etc. to convince gamers or programmers.

Focus on the following three points to make videos more enjoyable for the audience:

  • Capture the attention of the viewers within the first 10-20 seconds of the video.
  • Educate, inspire, and entertain to keep the viewers engaged until the end.
  • Give equal importance to production quality with good camerawork and great editing.

4. Include Target Keyword in the Video Title

The video title is the first thing users see on the search engine ranking page. Titles are displayed in large fonts and are supposed to represent the content of the video.

Make the video titles compelling to read and enticing to click by including the target keyword. Avoid trying to cram the keyword in, as it can make the title read unnaturally, causing users to doubt the quality of your video.

Aim for clear and concise titles with the keyword appearing in the first half of the headline, if not the first word. It’s equally important for the keyword and title to reflect what the audience is looking for.

For example, for videos targeted at budding photographers, instead of the title ‘The Art of Photography,’ you can use ‘Essential Photography Tips for Beginners’.

5. Create Video Description

Every day, I browse through hundreds of videos, eventually watching a few to keep myself updated with current trends in my niche. I can’t separate the wheat from the chaff without watching all of them. Like millions of others, I rely on video descriptions to understand the content. Search engine crawlers do the same.

Avoid cluttering the description box with excessive links, tags, or lengthy blog-like descriptions. The ideal length is around 200 to 300 words per video. A description of approximately 250 words provides sufficient depth for crawlers to understand your content.

6. Add Video Captions or Transcript

You can pair a video with text in two ways: by adding a transcript of the video content on the page or by using captions (subtitles) in the video. Captions help viewers follow the information in the video without disturbing the people around them.

In addition to making the video accessible to a larger audience, captions make the content more digestible for search engine crawlers. That’s because search engine algorithms can understand text better than visual content.

Furthermore, incorporate the keywords into the video script and dialogue. Use the keywords naturally and throughout the content. This helps both the viewers and search engines understand the content better.

7. Make Tags Associated with the Video

By adding tags, you assist in categorizing the videos and enhancing their search results. This practice holds significant value, particularly if you aim for optimal performance on video sharing and social media platforms.

Despite some decrease in their significance, tags remain a determining factor on YouTube, thus deserving attention and effort. Avoid excessive tagging; instead, aim for 5 to 7 tags per video, ensuring the main keyword is included among them.

8. Use Eye-Catching Custom Thumbnails for Your Videos

Thumbnails serve as visual titles for video content, acting as the initial impression that can significantly influence the decision to play the video.

An effective video thumbnail must meet two criteria: (a) accurately representing the video content and (b) grabbing the user’s attention, evoking curiosity and interest.

Search engines and video-sharing platforms typically use several frames from the video to generate thumbnails. However, using custom thumbnails is preferable for SEO and attracting viewers. Incorporate clear imagery, compelling text overlays, and branding elements to make your thumbnails stand out.

9. Create Time Stamps for Your Videos

Sometimes, users seek quick solutions and lack the time to watch entire videos. Video marketers have gleaned a valuable lesson from blogs: just as text content is divided into easily digestible sections, videos can likewise be segmented using timestamps.

Why should you incorporate video timestamps? For the simple reason that Google segments lengthy videos and identifies them as ‘key moments’ in the SERP.

Here are some best practices for utilizing video timestamps:

  • Utilize the HH:MM:SS format to denote video chapters.
  •  Ensure that timestamps are always in chronological order.
  • Keep chapter labels clear and concise.

10. Include Schema Markup to Pages with Embedded Videos

If you’re planning to embed a video on a webpage, then include schema markup. Schema markup consists of HTML tags added to the page source, allowing search engines to understand the content better.

It’s a straightforward code that provides the search engine with information such as title, thumbnail URLs, video description, duration, etc. This enhances the visibility of videos and leads to rich snippets in search results.

11. Miscellaneous

Building Backlinks: Share valuable content (text, images, and short videos) across platforms and create backlinks pointing to the video to enhance its credibility and authority.

Optimizing Video Placement: Ensure the video takes center stage on the webpage by strategically positioning it for better visibility and loading speed, thus enhancing the viewer experience. Moreover, improving on-page SEO by optimizing content around the video can significantly boost the ranking of your video content.

Integrating Clear CTAs: Incorporate a clear call to action prompting viewers to subscribe, like, share, or visit your website for further engagement and conversions. Improved engagement metrics will positively impact search engine ranking.

Repurposing for YouTube Shorts: YouTube Shorts garner millions of views. Repurpose your videos into engaging short-form content to reach the mobile audience and drive traffic to longer videos or web pages.

Final Thoughts

Both avionics and aerodynamic design are crucial for an aircraft to achieve flight. In video marketing, if the content is avionics, Video SEO serves as the aerodynamic design, without which your video content would neither take off nor reach its destination.

The video optimization tips you find here will help search engines understand and rank the content, enabling the audience to discover it when needed.

Now is the time to implement these video SEO tips and reap their benefits. It won’t take long for your videos to climb the search engine ranking ladder and improve engagement with the target audience.


I'm a growth marketing consultant who helps B2B, SaaS, IT, technology and software companies generate more leads, sales and grow revenue online. I offer expert advice on marketing your company the right way through performance-based SEO, digital marketing, social media, search engine marketing and many other online practices. Connect with me on LinkedIn and schedule a free marketing strategy session!