You’ve got your website SEO strategy right and have managed to get truckloads of visitors. But what about your videos? You've spent a lot of time and effort to create videos which may not be giving you the desired results. This is where video SEO can help.

YouTube is the second largest search engine and has over 1.5 billion logged-in users every month. But the impact of video SEO is not restricted to YouTube. Before we get into the specifics, let’s find out what exactly video SEO is.

What Is Video SEO?

Video SEO, just like website SEO, aims to rank your videos in search engine results for relevant keywords. There many ways to give your videos greater chances of ranking higher in the search results.

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Today, videos are everywhere. You can watch them on your laptop at home or the office or on your mobile device on-the-go. Due to a huge amount of videos created every minute, it has become tougher to rank in search results. If you want to get your videos indexed, you need to focus on video SEO.

Getting ranked in search results has got a lot to do with your website’s authority. It also depends on how your website ranks for video searches and how focused it is on videos.

8 Video SEO Best Practices

Now let's take a look at 8 best practices you can use to improve your video SEO and get your videos to rank higher.

1. Choose the Right Hosting Platform

Choosing the right video hosting platform is critical for the success of your video marketing strategy. The choice of the platform depends upon your final goal. While this isn’t directly linked to your video SEO, it can impact it immensely.

Do you want to generate traffic, brand awareness, or get some leads? You need to decide this first before selecting a video hosting platform.

If you’re looking to generate brand awareness, YouTube and Vimeo may be good options. However, you should also look for other platforms if you want to send traffic to your website.

YouTube and Vimeo are already saturated with tons of videos. This can make users feel lost in an ocean of videos.

Platforms such as Wistia might be a better choice for businesses looking to increase website traffic. The prime reason for this being that the platform inserts SEO metadata by default. This can help improve the chances of your videos getting indexed.

2. Use Attractive Thumbnail Images

Your video thumbnail is one of the most important aspects of your video SEO. The thumbnail is one of the first things that the searcher will see. So it has to create an impact that can prompt the searcher to click on the video.

Think of your video as a book and the thumbnail as its cover. Only when the cover is attractive will someone feel like opening the book. You should always make sure that you put as much effort into your thumbnails as you do into actually creating your videos. Try to add a human element to them as well.

For instance, Moz takes time to take photos specifically for their thumbnails when they shoot their Whiteboard Friday videos.

attractive thumbnail images video seo

Image via YouTube

Remember, it’s often the thumbnail that will decide whether or not people click on your video. It should be attractive and relevant to your video.

If you search for “how to jog,” you’ll get results like those in the screenshot below. Which would you click on?

google search how to jog video seo

Image via Google

Most people will click on the third video. The thumbnail is clear, accurate, and shows you exactly what you’re looking for. The other two videos have poor quality thumbnails that aren’t able to convey the videos' intent to you.

3. Write Great Titles and Descriptions

You put a lot of effort into crafting catchy titles for your blog posts. And you need to do the same for your videos. This applies not just to the titles but also to your video descriptions as well.

To write titles and descriptions, you first need to do keyword research. Keywords are as important for video SEO as they are for regular SEO.

You can use tools such as KWFinder to research keywords. Make sure that you use your target keyword in both the title and the description of your video.

kwfinder video seo

Image via KWFinder

However, you should not stuff your title and description with keywords for video SEO. That can make them appear spammy. They should seem genuinely interesting.

You need to ask yourself if the title and description are interesting and if you’d click on the link if you came across the video.

The title should ideally be short so that it doesn’t get cut off in the search results.

For example, Google displays approximately 50-60 characters of your title in their search results. So you should keep your titles within that range.

YouTube, on the other hand, has a character limit of 100 for titles. However, only about 70 characters of your title will be shown in search results.

Your description, on the other hand, should explain the video’s content in detail. A longer description will help viewers understand the video better.

4. Keep Your Page Relevant to The Video

Unlike a blog post, your video cannot do much to rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). You need to develop content around the video that can give it much-needed traction.

The Googlebot cannot read videos, so for video SEO, it’s important to optimize the content of the page the video is posted on.

The search engines will crawl through the text on the page and will rank the video based on that. Which means that you need to do keyword research and write high-quality content on the page where the video is located.

Other technical components of your website's SEO should be take care of as well. The text should also be relevant to the video.

5. Embed the Best Video First

While it may seem like a great idea to add multiple videos to a page, it doesn’t work as well for video SEO.

Typically, the crawlers will only crawl the first video on a page and then stop.

For this reason, it makes more sense to add only one video per page. Then you can optimize the page well to get the video to rank higher in search results.

PageCloud, for instance, has added a video showcasing their builder right on their homepage.

pagecloud video seo

Image via PageCloud

However, if for any reason you do need to insert multiple videos on a page, make sure that your best one is the first. This will ensure that your most important video will have a better chance of getting ranked in search results.

6. Add Video Transcripts

Video transcripts are essentially scripts that appear at the bottom of the video. They help people watch the video without audio. This makes the entire video watching experience better for viewers.

However, transcripts can not only help with the user experience but also with your video SEO.

They make the videos scrapable by the search engine bots as the transcripts are essentially text. They act like your page copy and make your videos easier to index. This can get them to rank higher in the SERPs.

7. Make it the Focus of the Page

When you’re doing video SEO, you must keep one thing in mind – the video is your priority.

You may have come across websites where you need to keep scrolling to find a video. This can lead to less video plays because of the amount of effort required.

People aren’t the only ones who need to put in extra effort in that case. The search engine bots need to put a lot of effort into hunting for the video while crawling through the website as well. This is especially true if a video is hidden below the fold on the page.

But if you make your video the focus of your page and place it at the very top (or at least above the fold), it will be easier for people to find it.

The search engine bots will also be able to find the video faster. So proper placement on the page can not only help your video get more views but also improve your video rankings as well. It’s one of the simplest video SEO tricks out there.

8. Don’t Embed the Video at Multiple Locations

Is anything worse than your own videos competing with each other? That is exactly what can happen if you put your video on multiple pages on your website.

You must avoid this at all costs because the same video will end up competing with itself. That can really derail your video SEO strategy.

You should add the video only once to your website use video SEO to get it to rank higher. The link to the page containing the video can, of course, be added to other pages and shared on social media to drive traffic to the video.

9. Prioritize Mobile Optimization

Today, optimizing your videos for mobile is a crucial video SEO strategy. According to a 2018 study by Ooyala, mobile’s share of video hit a record 62%. The increasing popularity of mobile videos signals that your video SEO needs to catch up with the trends. It’s no longer an option, it’s a necessity.

For this, you need to ensure that the video players you use are responsive. Whether a user has an iPhone or a large monitor, your video should be clearly visible. Before you pick a player, make sure it allows video sizes for all types of screens.

Another important thing to keep in mind for video SEO on mobile devices is your call-to-actions. On mobile devices, annotations and mobile won’t work within the player.

So, you need to include a call-to-action in your video itself. It could be in the form of text or a verbal cue. Whatever it is, it should take your guests to the next step.

10. A/B Test Your Vertical Videos

Most videos are shot to be played in the landscape mode. But think about it — do we hold our phones horizontally all day? No, right? Keep that in mind for your video SEO.

It’s a good idea to A/B test your videos and ads with vertical videos. Using vertical videos, you can create an immersive viewing experience that is free of any distractions. Many big brands are already using this video SEO strategy to enhance their user experience.

For the launch of IGTV, National Geographic aired the final episode of National Geo’s “One Strange Rock” documentary on the platform. It was adapted for vertical screens. Since then, National Geographic has published multiple vertical videos on Instagram.

Other notable brands that are also jumping in on this video SEO trend include Netflix, Mercedes Benz, Spotify, and others.

a-b test verticle videos video seo

Image via Econsultancy

Final Thoughts

Video SEO is to videos what SEO is to websites. To get your videos to rank higher, you need to get both your SEO and video SEO right.

Come up with creative thumbnails that can create an impact and catch the attention of searchers. You should also incorporate keywords into your video title and description to help it rank higher. Don't forget to add transcripts to improve your video SEO. And lastly, always keep your video as the focus of the page.

Do you have any other video SEO tips to add? Please share them with us in the comments below.


  1. Great tips and great post.

  2. This is truly a great piece to follow. It’s a must-read to maximize every online potential of videos.

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  4. Scotty Jividen says:

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    1. Shane Barker says:

      Thanks! Very nice to hear it.

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    1. Shane Barker says:

      Thanks a lot, I appreciate that.

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