When talking about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), people are quite attuned to focusing on the website content end of things — such as meta text, internal linking, and keyword selection. What is often forgotten or completely neglected, is the rich media’s end of things. SEO strategies span far beyond text and link updates. As video content continues to grow as a medium for web content delivery, Video SEO is becoming an increasingly significant pillar of content optimization that can’t be ignored.
Like other forms of SEO, Video SEO refers to the process of optimizing video content to improve its visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) — whether it be Google or YouTube, or Vimeo. The goal of video SEO is to increase the chances of your video being discovered by potential viewers and driving more traffic to a website, or often in the case of video, a specific channel.
Unsurprisingly, the key concepts that underlie Video SEO are not too different than that of other SEO. The principles that form the foundation of SEO can be applied universally to all forms of content — just with slightly different tactics and methods.
Here are some tips and guidelines to improve your video SEO.
- Create high-quality video content: Above all else, content matters. SEO itself is a measure to improve visibility and discoverability, but it cannot replace the benefits quality content bequeaths. Quality content is ultimately what drives viewership and viewer retention for future videos. Make sure any video content is high-quality, engaging, and ultimately provides utility and value to your viewers. Anything else is simply a waste of money and worse, a waste of time for the viewer. Longer videos tend to rank and perform better, so aim for videos that are at least 5 minutes long.
- Conduct keyword research: Just like traditional SEO, keyword research and selection are the most important steps to form a solid foundation for all following SEO activity. Use keyword research tools, like Moz and SEMRush to find the most relevant keywords and phrases related to the video content to be optimized. Recall that even the best videos will never be found if the content itself isn’t referencing commonly queried search terms. Incorporate these keywords into the video title, description, tags, and transcript.
- Optimize the video title: Think of video titles as parallel to traditional metatext. Use a descriptive and compelling title that accurately reflects the content of the video and includes your target keywords. Keywords should be leveraged early in the title, ideally within the first five words, to improve visibility from relevant viewers. Quality titles will not only attract clickthrough, but they’ll also help the video stand out in a sea of competitors.
- Write a detailed video description: A detailed video description will not only help viewers understand the video’s purpose but will also help contextualize your video to the ranking algorithms. The video description should provide a summary of your video, include relevant keywords, and include links to relevant websites and social media channels. As the first 150 characters will be present on Video SERPs, these first few phrases should be clickthrough-driven as much as possible. Leverage phrases like “Find out how…” or “Learn more about…” to increase curiosity and drive views. YouTube allows up to 5000 characters, so feel free to leverage the rest of this space to include detailed descriptions of content and the purpose of the channel at large.
- Use relevant video tags: While not as essential as in the past, tags still do help with the contextualization of videos. The listing algorithms will use associated tags to better understand the content of a video and offer related recommendations. However, attaching needless keywords to bulk up a video is a losing proposition — YouTube and other major providers no longer use tags as a direct method for rankings — only to build context and understanding for the algorithm. Instead, only Include relevant tags that accurately describe your video content and include your target keywords.
- Transcribe your video: Accessibility on the web has increasingly become a cornerstone of Google’s strategy in the past few years. Transcriptions for videos, or better yet, timed subtitles for videos, offer a strategic competitive advantage. Not only will viewers with limited hearing equally enjoy the video content, significantly increasing reach and viewership opportunities, but also the transcription provides crawlable content that a crawler can direct parse, compared to the complex nature of a bot breaking down rich media sources like video. Subtitles will also mean that viewers who cannot activate audio (e.g., in a work/office environment), can still equally enjoy the video. Transcribing and subtitles can be very backbreaking work, so this work is best contracted through a transcription specialist, like Rev.
- Promote your video on social media: Share the video on social media channels and embed it on your website to increase its visibility and reach. Cross-channel promotions will only increase visibility and viewership, especially if the underlying video channel is less mature.
- Encourage engagement: Encourage viewers to like, comment, and share the video, as this can improve your engagement and retention rates, which can ultimately boost your video SEO. Ask viewers questions directly in the video (e.g., “What do you think about… or Do you agree with…”) to help stimulate discussion in the comments. Creating a two-way street with the viewer is a great way to drive return visits.
Again, the fundamental concepts of SEO remain solidly in place for video — albeit tactically in slightly different locations and methods. As video platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram continue to grow, Video SEO will quickly transition from a competitive advantage to table stakes. Implementing these tips as regular actions for video teams will help keep brands and websites relevant on these newer platforms.
If you’re looking for more help or a broader strategy for video, feel free to contact Bluetext for an in-depth breakdown of how video can help your company to grow.