Creating an effective SEO strategy for video content can be tricky, requiring more than just a traditional approach and the right keywords. Video continues to become increasingly popular online. So, it's important to take the time to understand how and where to focus your efforts for optimization to achieve as much reach and exposure as possible.
With every new social network update, year-over-year performance report, and online trends study, there is further evidence that video is becoming the preferred type of content for businesses and marketers to attract and engage their audiences.
In fact, YouTube is the top distribution channel businesses plan to add to their marketing strategy in the next year.
Thus, it’s not surprising that there is also increasing demand for efficient optimization methods that are capable of having your videos featured more prominently in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
In this piece, I will briefly go over a few of the most critical SEO areas you should focus on to enhance your video content's performance. I will touch on a handful of simple strategies you can use to overhaul your video marketing strategy.
Choose the Right Hosting Platform
When it comes to figuring out the best platform to host your videos, the first thing you should keep in mind is that there isn’t an objectively “best” choice. The most beneficial hosting service varies depending on your needs and particular goals for each piece of video content you create.
In this sense, video content generally falls under one of two broad camps: the ones you want to use to generate site traffic, leads, and conversions and those you create to nurture brand awareness and overall exposure.
For brand awareness and exposure, using popular content-oriented sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook might be the ideal platforms to host your videos.
If, on the other hand, you are looking to incorporate that piece of video content as part of your marketing funnel (or to drive traffic to your website), hosting sites such as Wistia come already prepared to automatically include SEO metadata on your videos.
This puts your content on a much better footing to be indexed by search engines.
The right platform to host your videos depends on your goals and objectives.
Create Clever Titles and Descriptions
Just like you would when doing SEO for other types of content, spending time to craft titles for your videos is non-negotiable.
Good video titles should aim to accomplish two main objectives: to include the main keywords you are targeting with your content and to be enticing and interesting enough to make people want to check out your content.
Titles have a lot of weight from an SEO standpoint, so including your keywords improves the chances of them ranking better and being seen.
Beyond that, engagement and interaction are the other key factors that drive a video's performance, so effective use of copywriting will influence more people to click and interact with the video, driving up its ranking potential.
Once you have taken care of your title, your attention should turn to your video's descriptions.
Descriptions allow you to elaborate on the video's content.
Try to use descriptions to provide a bit more detail of your video's topic and content without overdoing it. Include relevant keywords whenever possible.
Another good thing here is to link to other pieces of relevant content, your website, and social media accounts. That will help you start cross-pollinating traffic to and from different points of your online presence.
Videos with well-thought-out titles and descriptions encourage people to hit the “play” button.
Thumbnails Can Make or Break a Video’s Performance
Thumbnails are probably the most underrated aspect of video SEO in reference to their utility. But they are an essential piece of optimization that should not be overlooked.
Even before someone reads your video’s title, thumbnails serve as that initial trigger that breaks someone out of the monotony of scrolling through content. Thumbnails make people notice your videos.
As such, thumbnails should strive to meet a handful of characteristics, including:
- Relevancy: Thumbnails should accurately depict or be closely related to the actual content of the video. They should also convey the general sense and tone of the video.
- Engaging: Thumbnails need to be eye-catching to have a chance to make people stop and notice it.
- Aesthetically pleasing: For all they are worth, thumbnails are also fairly easy to misuse. Avoid cluttering your thumbnails with information or visually displeasing arrangements that could otherwise discourage people from viewing your content.
In the example below, we went through a testing phase, choosing the best custom thumbnail to both catch the viewer’s attention and also let them know what the video is about.
The first option was eye-catching and straightforward enough to convey what we wanted.
Both Wistia and YouTube agree on the importance of custom thumbnails, as they can significantly increase your video's performance. So, take your time with thumbnails and ensure you give them their due.
Include Transcripts and Captions
Did you know that 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound? It’s a pattern I’ve seen repeated on several other hosting platforms, too. This is probably a consequence of the mobile nature that content has been going through the past few years.
Sometimes, people are unable to use sound due to the environment they are in. In addition, some don’t bother to activate volume until they’ve had a preview of the content for a few seconds.
Adding captions or subtitles to your video increases its chances of getting your message across and broadens the number of people it is available to.
Some platforms also index the text from captions or subtitles, which makes them a treasure trove for optimization. Ideally, your video’s script will have more than a few instances where it mentions your keywords, which provides further benefits all around.
It’s important for your video to include transcripts or captions to appeal to those who don’t watch it with sound.
Prioritize Embedding and Avoid Duplicates
Google typically indexes only one video per page. This means that search crawlers usually stop looking for videos after the first one they find.
This is important to keep in mind if you are embedding more than one video per page. Prioritize what you feel is the main video you want to feature on that page, and embed it first. That will help make sure it will act as a flagship for the rest of the content on the page.
In addition, there’s the issue of duplicate content by uploading the same video on multiple platforms.
There is a case to be made for this practice if generating traffic isn’t really a concern. Otherwise, doing this can work against you, as your content is suddenly competing against itself for attention. This undercuts the full benefit you’d get by concentrating that content exclusively in a single place.
Video SEO Is an Effort Worth Making
Properly doing SEO for your video content can seem daunting at first, but once you understand where your efforts are best spent, it becomes a much more manageable proposition.
Start by implementing this advice, then move on to more complex video marketing SEO strategies as you start seeing the positive impact these simple tweaks can bring to your video content’s performance.
About the Author
Víctor Blasco is the founder and CEO of the explainer video company Yum Yum Videos. He is also an audiovisual designer and video marketing expert.
Aside from running the business, he loves studying Chinese philosophy and is a real geek for science fiction films and comics! The force is strong with this one.