How to optimize your video for search engines

We get a lot of questions about video and SEO – both about the SEO impact of video overall, and how to optimize individual videos specifically for SEO. We’ve previously written about how video affects SEO for your website, but since YouTube is the second largest search engine on the web, it’s important to make sure your content can easily be found there, as well as on Vimeo.

If you’re familiar with standard best practices when it comes to SEO, video SEO will seem familiar. There are just a few additional things to think about – here are the basics:  

Think like a searcher when planning your SEO video title.

video-seo-photoAs with any title online, it’s important to get keyword or keyword phrases in your video title. Titles are the first indicator – to search engines (and searchers, of course) – of what your video is about. Try and think like a searcher when you’re coming up with your SEO video title. If you were looking for information on this topic, what would you type into the search box? Would you ask a question or type a particular phrase? Use that for your title.

For a little help, try tools like SerpStat (serpstat.com), which can give you a list of common questions typed into search engines that are related to particular keywords. You can also use the search box on YouTube to find long-tail keywords. Just start typing your keywords in the box and take a look at the suggestions that come up below.

Don’t skip the video description field – especially the first two lines.

The description field (on YouTube and Vimeo) offers a great SEO opportunity. On YouTube, the first two lines of your description will show up on the search results page, so make the most out those lines by using the space to include a teaser for your video. Also, provide a link to your website.

As for the rest of the description, you have options – include a transcript of your video, or write some accompanying text, similar to what you’d do in a blog post. Use the space you have available!

Also ( this applies more to your website than YouTube optimization) if you can, put the video on its own page on your website for even more SEO power. If you do that, you’re giving that page a chance to rank independently from the rest of your site. Just be sure not to put the exact same text on your website that you put on YouTube or search engines will see it as duplicate content and it can hurt you instead of help.

Filenames matter – name your video file for SEO impact before uploading.

The filenames of videos (and images) online should include keywords. Your default video filename might be something like VID0012.MOV, but renaming it to something related to your video, like HOW-TO-PATCH-DRYWALL.MOV will have more SEO power.

Use the tags, categories, and meta fields.

Both YouTube and Vimeo offer video tagging and video categories. Use these fields to increase the chances of your video being found in their on-site search results. Choose your categories carefully, and use the tag field to add keywords that users will type in to find your video.

Tags are similar to categories – categories are for broad groupings, and tags give you an opportunity to add a lot more detail to compliment categories and get more specific. Also, add a few related hashtags. Sure, hashtags are frequently a source of jokes these days, but they help get your video found, so why not add a few!?

Make sure your video has captions.

Video captions aren’t just for the hearing impaired. Most people who watch videos online, particularly from their mobile phone, prefer to watch videos with the sound turned off.  Video captions also give you more opportunities for searchable content to be indexed. Both YouTube and Vimeo have tools built right in to let you add captions.

YouTube How Tos:

How to add captions on YouTube (external links)

How to add captions on Vimeo (exteralink)

Looking for commercial or narrative video production in Chicago?

Leeway Films is a full service video production company that works with businesses, agencies, and individuals to produce share-worthy video content. Get in touch at hello@leewayfilms.com!