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How to Optimize Video for SEO

SEO is one of those amorphous things you hear everyone talking about, but it would seem only experts truly understand its nuances and needs.

In the many-pronged world of SEO, video is just one piece of the puzzle. And, yes, you can optimize your videos so they perform double-duty: show beautiful work and optimize your social channels and website for increased searchability.

Sounds like a win, right?

Yeah, we think so, too.

Some other run-off benefits:

  • Increased Visibility: Optimizing videos for search engines and social media platforms improves their chances of being discovered by a wider audience. This increased visibility can lead to higher click-through rates and engagement (top and middle funnel activity).

  • Higher SERP (search engine results page) Rankings: By implementing effective video SEO strategies, you can improve your videos' rankings in search engine results. Higher rankings mean more visibility and traffic, increasing brand awareness and conversions.

  • Enhanced User Experience: Optimized videos provide a better user experience by ensuring they are accessible, relevant, and engaging. This can lead to longer watch times, higher engagement rates, and increased brand loyalty.

  • Competitive Advantage: As video content becomes more prevalent, optimizing your videos for SEO gives you a competitive edge. By appearing higher in search results and social media feeds, you can stand out from your competitors and attract more viewers.

  • Measurable Results: Track and analyze key performance metrics, such as views, watch time, engagement, and conversions. This data provides valuable insights that can help you refine your video marketing strategy and achieve better results over time.

Stop. Design Your Funnel First.

SEO is fantastic.

But before you dive too deep. Think through your funnel.

Where are you driving people?

What do you guide them to next?

What’s the end game?

And if they don’t do that? How do you engage with them?

Continue experimenting, learning, and tweaking your campaign structure.

Now, onward to SEO.

Optimizing Videos for Search Engines

Choosing the Right Video Hosting Platform

Different platforms have different features and capabilities that can impact your videos' visibility and ranking. When selecting your hosting platform, consider the following:

  • Traffic Distribution: Some platforms, such as YouTube and Vimeo, have built-in audiences and can drive significant traffic to your videos. However, remember that most traffic may stay on the platform rather than directing users to your website.

  • SEO Capabilities: Look for a hosting platform that supports SEO-friendly features, such as the automatic insertion of SEO metadata. Platforms like Wistia provide easy-to-use SEO tools that improve your videos' chances of being indexed and ranked by search engines.

  • Customizability: Choose a platform that allows you to customize your video player, embed videos on your website, and maintain your brand identity throughout the viewing experience.

  • Analytics and Metrics: Opt for a hosting platform that provides comprehensive analytics and metrics, allowing you to track video performance, engagement, and conversions.

  • Long-term Adjustments: You video is live (hooray!). What happens when you want to make a tweak? With YouTube, you need to make a new link. Platforms like Vimeo and Wistia allow you to upload a new version to the same link. So all of your embedded videos stay perfectly embedded. No repointing needed.

Insert a Video Transcript

Including a video transcript gives web crawlers something to grab onto when crawling your page.

Transcripts not only make your videos more accessible to a wider audience, including those with hearing impairments, but they also provide search engines with additional text to crawl and index.

You can either manually create a text document that matches the audio content of your video or use automated transcription services. Once you have the transcript, display it directly below the video or provide a link to a separate page where users can access it.

By including a video transcript, you improve your chances of ranking for relevant keywords and increase the overall visibility and accessibility of your video content.

Optimize Video Titles and Descriptions

The titles and descriptions of your videos play a crucial role in their discoverability and ranking in search engine results. When optimizing your video titles and descriptions, remember the following tips:

  • Use Relevant Keywords: Conduct keyword research to identify the most relevant and high-traffic keywords for your video. Incorporate these keywords into your video titles and descriptions to improve their visibility in search results.

  • Be Descriptive and Compelling: Craft descriptive and compelling titles and descriptions that accurately represent the content of your video. Grab users' attention and entice them to click through and watch your video.

  • Keep it Concise: While it's important to be descriptive, keep your titles and descriptions concise. Search engines and users prefer concise and clear information. Aim for titles under 60 characters and descriptions under 160 characters to ensure optimal visibility in search results.

  • Include Call-to-Actions: Encourage users to take specific actions, such as subscribing to your channel, visiting your website, or watching related videos, by including relevant call-to-actions in your video titles and descriptions.

  • Avoid Keyword Stuffing: While it's important to include relevant keywords, avoid keyword stuffing, which is the excessive and unnatural use of keywords in your titles and descriptions. Keyword stuffing can negatively impact your video's ranking and user experience.

  • Chapters Help Your Viewers: Improve the user experience (and search) with well-titled chapters.

Add Relevant Tags and Categories

Tags and categories are additional metadata elements that can enhance the discoverability and categorization of your videos.

  • Use Descriptive Tags: Add relevant and descriptive tags that accurately represent the content of your video. Include a mix of broad and specific tags to cover different aspects of your video and increase its visibility in search results.

  • Use Long-Tail Keywords: Long-tail keywords are specific, highly targeted phrases with lower competition. Incorporate long-tail keywords as tags to optimize your videos for specific search queries and attract more targeted viewers.

  • Select Appropriate Categories: Choose the most appropriate categories that align with the topic or theme of your video. Categories help search engines and users categorize and filter videos based on their interests and preferences.

  • Analyze Competitors' Tags: Research and analyze the tags used by your competitors or other videos ranking well in your niche. This can provide insights into relevant keywords and help you optimize your own tags.

Create a Video Sitemap

A video sitemap is a specific type that provides search engines with information about the videos on your website. It includes video titles, descriptions, URLs, durations, and other relevant metadata.

It’s another way of playing nice with those web crawlers.

Creating a video sitemap can help search engines discover and index your videos more efficiently, improving search results' visibility and ranking. Submitting your video sitemap to search engines, like Google, can also expedite the indexing process.

To create a video sitemap, follow the specific guidelines each search engine provides. The sitemap should be formatted in XML and include all relevant video metadata. Regularly update and maintain your video sitemap to ensure search engines have the most up-to-date information about your videos.

Optimize Video Thumbnails

Video thumbnails are the small preview images users see before clicking on a video. Thumbnails are crucial in attracting attention and enticing users to watch your videos.

  • Be Eye-Catching: Create visually appealing and attention-grabbing thumbnails that accurately represent the content of your video. Use high-quality images, bold colors, and clear text to make your thumbnails stand out.

  • Incorporate Text and Branding: Include relevant text within your thumbnails, such as titles or key points. This can provide additional context and encourage users to click through and watch your videos. Incorporate your logo or other branding elements to maintain consistency and increase brand recognition.

  • Maintain Consistency: Establish a consistent style and format for your video thumbnails. This helps viewers recognize your videos across different platforms and encourages them to engage with your content.

  • Test and Optimize: Continuously test different thumbnail designs and formats to identify the most effective ones. Monitor click-through rates and engagement metrics to optimize your thumbnails for better performance.

Enhancing Video Loading Speed

Video loading speed is a critical factor in user experience and SEO. Slow-loading videos can lead to higher bounce rates and lower engagement, negatively impacting your video's ranking in search results.

  • Compress Videos: Compressing your videos reduces their file size without significantly impacting quality. Smaller file sizes result in faster loading times.

  • Use Adaptive Streaming: Adaptive streaming adjusts the quality and resolution of videos based on the viewer's internet connection and device capabilities. This ensures videos load quickly and play smoothly across different devices and network conditions.

  • Leverage Caching and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs): Caching and CDNs store and deliver your videos from servers closer to your viewers, reducing latency and improving loading speed.

  • Optimize Website Performance: Ensure your website or landing page is optimized for fast loading. Minimize HTTP requests, use efficient coding practices, and leverage browser caching to improve website performance.

Incorporating Closed Captions and Subtitles

Closed captions and subtitles provide text-based transcriptions of your video's audio content. They enhance accessibility and provide an inclusive viewing experience for all users, including those with hearing impairments or those watching videos in sound-sensitive environments.

In addition to their accessibility benefits, closed captions and subtitles can improve video SEO. Search engines can crawl and index text within closed captions, which provides additional content for search algorithms to analyze and rank.

When incorporating closed captions and subtitles, consider the following tips:

  • Accurate Transcriptions: Ensure that your closed captions and subtitles accurately reflect the audio content of your video. Use professional transcription services or automated tools to generate accurate text transcriptions.

  • Format and Positioning: Format your closed captions and subtitles to be easily readable and visually appealing. Choose appropriate font styles, sizes, and colors. Position the captions in a way that does not obstruct important visual elements.

  • Multilingual Support: Consider providing closed captions and subtitles in multiple languages to reach a broader audience. This can improve the accessibility and relevance of your videos for international viewers.

Looking for a partner to take your video production to the next level? Let’s chat.

This is a two-part series on Video Optimization. Check Out Part Two of Our Video Optimization Series: Optimizing Video for Social Media.