Knowing a few simple steps to optimize video content specifically for SEO (which includes deployment and distribution) will elevate awareness and give you the edge you need to differentiate from competitors. To be honest, optimizing your videos for SEO isn’t rocket science, it’s actually pretty straight forward, but it is important you get it right from the start.
1. Make Your Video Title Catchy and Relevant
A catchy, accurate and optimized video title will make your video tick. It will persuade your audience to either click or click away, so has to be compelling. It should also contain relevant keywords that make sense to humans and engines and robots alike. Here are a few other tips:
- Keep it under 66 characters
- Place relevant keywords toward the beginning of your title
- Use the word ‘Video’ in the title
- Don’t mislead
- Be direct – communicate exactly what’s in the video
- Your brand should go last (or not be in there at all)
- Update over time so they stay relevant with your audience
2. Don’t Forget to Tag Your Video
Tagging is crucial to describe your video’s content and make it easier for people to find and categorize your video. Make sure to pull words from your title and include phrases/keywords that describe your video.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to emulate what others are doing – especially competitors.
3. Get Right to the Point in Your Video Descriptions
Video descriptions represent another opportunity to optimize your video for the search engines and provide more details to be crawled. They also appear as rich snippets in the SERPs that can help drive more clicks to your video. 3 things to note here:
- Include relevant keywords (including the ones in the title)
- Keep your first sentence brief so it is represented well in the search snippet
- Add a link back to your website or blog
4. Create and Submit a Video Sitemap to Google
A video sitemap is basically a text file packed full of useful data about the content of your video. By submitting it to Google, you are schooling them about your video’s title, content, target audience, and a ton of other detail that will influence when and how it is indexed. The better the sitemap, the more Google can do to ensure your video content reaches the intended audience.
Most online video platforms automatically create a sitemap for you – no hand coding involved! When you are done, be sure to submit to Google (see how).
5. Publish Your Video Transcripts
Transcriptions can have a significant impact on your search engine rankings. You can go the automated route but for quality reasons, I suggest just doing it manually.
In order to unleash your video’s content, embed the video transcriptions directly into the code of each of the pages where your videos are hosted. Not only will this feed rich and relevant keywords to the search engines but will also give your audience the option to read a video, if they are unable to watch it for some reason.
Transcriptions can also multipurpose as content marketing tools. A related blog post can acquire new views and audience for your video.
6. Host Videos on Your Website
If the website is your key property and you’re looking to drive traffic to it, then self-hosting is a great idea. Consider all the search engine data we’ve been discussing that comes along with your video content … do you want your SEO juice going to YouTube or your own website?
YouTube and Vimeo offer amazing reach and have their place in terms of deployment and distribution, but hosting on your own site is a must if it’s traffic that you crave.
7. Get Interactive With Your Audience
Every video view offers an opportunity to lead the viewer to your other web properties. Interactive features (annotations if we’re talking YouTube) like call-to-actions, lead-gates, surveys, sign-up forms, share buttons, etc., enable you to intercept viewers at key moments, boost engagement and drive action. Most video platforms (including Youtube) offer great capabilities to connect with viewers using overlays.
8. Design Killer Thumbnails
The right thumbnail can be the difference between someone engaging with your video content or dismissing it altogether, so making it stand out from the crowd is more crucial than you think. As digital marketers, we need to take the time to create the right video thumbnails and test their effectiveness.
You might ask – how does this help my SEO? It does help indirectly. If done effectively it will mean higher CTRs, more views (and Google will like this).
Be Patient, Get the Word Out & Have Fun!
Organic video SEO requires patience, just like any content marketing effort. It’s like a domino effect – the more popular your videos become, the more people will link to them, embed them, watch them, and share them, all of which will in turn help your rankings. So just get out there and have some fun.