Every piece of content that you publish on your website should be optimized for search engines, and videos are no exception.
The fact of the matter is that search engines are starting to put more and more emphasis on video content, and some (such as Google) have started including it in their main search results. That represents a tremendous opportunity, and it means that if you improve your videos’ SEO and get them to rank high enough – you could rake in tons of traffic.
Start with Keyword Research
If you want to get your videos ranked on Google or any other search engine, you need to start with solid keyword research. The goal should be to identify prospective keywords that you can target which are related to the video content you are going to create (or have created).
It is up to you which keyword research tool you use but the one on Moz is particularly well-regarded, as is the Google Keyword Planner. At the end of the day any available solution can work so long as it gives you an estimate of the search volume for that keyword and the competition.
Targeting the popular keywords is important, but so is targeting less-popular long-tail keywords that are very relevant to your videos. The long-tail keywords will likely have much less competition, which is why they are so crucial.
Add Keywords into the Metadata
Seeing as search engines aren’t able to ‘watch’ videos to find out what they are about, they rely on other information to clue them in – which is where the metadata comes into play.
The keywords that you want to target should be sprinkled (not stuffed) into your video’s title, description, and tags. It doesn’t hurt to use a descriptive file name that includes them as well – though Google and most search engines don’t really give that much weight.
Be sure to use keywords naturally, and don’t make them look too forced or you could end up the worse for it.
Publish a Transcript Below the Video
As you can imagine the metadata will only go so far in providing information about the video. That is why another useful way to provide more information is to publish a transcript right below the video.
Essentially a video transcript is a text-version of the content spoken in the video. Naturally it will contain lots of useful keywords as well.
If you’re concerned that the video transcript won’t fit into the content or the web design, you could add it in a collapsible element. That way it won’t be visible to viewers, unless someone wants to read the transcript.
Use Structured Data or Video Sitemaps
Structured data (i.e. video schema) and video sitemaps fulfill similar roles and will give search engines additional data about the video including its title, duration, description, and information about its views. More importantly you can use either to select a custom thumbnail for your video.
As things stand both Google and Bing support structured data, and it is starting to be used more frequently. In fact a good place to start if you want to use structured data is Google’s own guide on it.
On the whole it is up to you which you use, and you could use both structured data and video sitemaps if you want – so long as none of the information they contain is conflicting.
Only Publish One Video Per Webpage
If there’s one rule that you absolutely must follow to rank on search engines it is to only publish one video on any given webpage.
The reason for that is simple: Most search engines (Google especially) will only list the first video on a webpage that they crawl. That means that any other videos that you publish won’t be listed or ranked, no matter how well they could potentially do.
Overall it would be a waste to publish more than one video per webpage, so try to avoid it. If you want to publish a series of videos – publish each video on its own individual webpage and link between them.
Watch the Page Speed
As you start to publish videos on your website, you need to pay close attention to how they affect the page speed.
Over the last few years the page speed has become an increasingly important factor to search engines and webpages that load too slowly are unlikely to rank very high. If you notice that your page speed is slow, you need to take steps to address it.
It should be noted that one of the main reasons why webpages with videos on them load slowly is because the video is set to autoplay. Switching the autoplay off can make a big difference, and considering viewers tend to prefer a click-to-play approach it is generally better to avoid autoplay completely.
Depending on whether you’re self-hosting or embedding your videos from a particular platform, the video format may influence the page speed as well. For example, changing the video format by converting from .mov to .mp4 would be optimal for web.
That should cover most of the basics of video SEO that you need to know about if you want to start optimizing your videos and get them ranked on Google and other search engines.
By this point you’ve probably noticed that improving video SEO is a bit tricky, and there are numerous challenges that will need to be overcome. To add to that SEO trends are constantly shifting, so there is no telling when an algorithm change or new set of guidelines will come into effect.
If you want to ensure that your video SEO is constantly up to date, it would be best to hire an expert. In fact why not get in touch at your earliest convenience, and I can see what I can do to help you out.