How To Optimise Your Video For SEO Purposes

How to optimise your video for SEO? It’s a great question and one we get all the time. Whether you’ve made a $100m blockbuster or a video for your corporate website, the goal is always the same. You want it to be viewed by as many people as possible.

The video on your website is competing against millions of others. Video already comprises more than 60% of the world’s Internet traffic and, according to a report by Cisco, that figure will rise to 80% within three years. With so many videos to choose from, how can you make sure yours gets found? One of the most effective ways is by using SEO (search engine optimisation).

If you are not familiar with SEO, it is the process of increasing traffic to your website through the unpaid results of a search engine, such as Google. These results are often referred to as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’, to contrast them with paid for results such as Google Adwords. (Google Adwords and social media are other ways that can help your videos get found, but this article is looking only at SEO).

Google is notorious for not giving much away when it comes to revealing how it delivers its search results, so there are no hard and fast rules.  But there are a few things you can do to give your video the best chance of appearing at the top of Google (and for that matter Bing and Yahoo). Here are our six tips for optimising your video for SEO:

1. Make a great video

User experience is important to Google. It wants to send users to great videos, ones that are interesting to watch and have excellent production values. Google will rank your video according to how much of your video people watch, the comments it receives and the traction it gets on social media.


2. Think about SEO when uploading your video

Google is blind when it comes to video as it can’t watch your video to see what it is about, it relies on the information you give it. You should use keywords in your video file name and video title. It can also help if your keywords are at the beginning of the title. For example, ‘Stand-up paddle-boarding tutorial’.

For the same reason, the description of the video is crucial. You should make sure the link to your website is right in the opening of the description. Also, use your keywords and make the description as detailed as possible.

The one thing which is nearly always forgotten here is the creation of a subtitles file. The subtitles file are a great way to communicate the dialogue of a video and is an effective place to insert keywords into the file.


3. Make your thumbnails stand out

Google won’t say what keywords will lead to videos being shown in search results. There are some clues, though. Videos that use phrases such as ‘tutorial’, ‘demo’ ‘how to’ seem to return better results. Bear this in mind when adding a file name and description for your thumbnail. We are often asked how long the description should be. This is not an exact science but we would say around 500 words is a good rule of thumb.

If your video is listed in the results, you need to make sure your thumbnail stands out so that it gets clicks. Use a high-quality picture that reflects the video’s content. And don’t use the same thumbnail on more than one video.  


4. Get as many views as you can

Google bumps videos up the search rankings if they get lots of views. Using social media channels and email campaigns are a great way to kick-start interest in your video. The more likes and shares you can get on sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + etc., the better. Also, longer videos rank better than shorter videos; aim for a video that is at least five minutes long.


5. Don’t compete against yourself

YouTube is the most popular video sharing website on the planet, with more than one billion users. Google owns YouTube. Thats why most thumbnails you find in your SERPs will be of videos hosted on YouTube. With this in mind, if your video is embedded on your website using a hosted video service such as Wistia and you are trying to drive traffic to it, it is not a great idea to put exactly the same video on YouTube as well. In other words, don’t compete against yourself. A good work around is to include an extract from your film on YouTube with a call- to-action to view the complete film on your main domain.

To find out more about how to optimise your video for SEO and to discuss your video strategy, please get in touch.

About the Author

Nathan Haines

Nathan is the managing director of Element 26 and an expert in video production and video marketing. Nathan enjoys supporting companies to grow their businesses using video. Get in touch on Twitter @element26uk

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