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Written by Sam Yadegar on Aug 18 , 2021

Because the most effective marketing videos keep search engine optimization in mind.

Here you’ll learn:

  • How to SEO factors into video marketing
  • Ways to prime your videos for search engine optimization
  • What technical elements to pay attention to
  • The importance of schema markup and sitemaps for videos

The results are in: Video is one of the top forms of media used in effective content strategies these days.

The rising popularity of videos makes them an integral tool for your search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. 

It may seem harder to apply standard SEO tactics to video content. In reality, the approach is simply different. Let’s take a closer look at actionable ways to inject SEO into your video marketing strategy to take full advantage of its benefits.  

women videotaping a group of women

YouTube has an advantage for video SEO since videos uploaded to YouTube are automatically, and almost instantly, indexed in Google search. (Image via Unplash)

1. Add a video transcript

A video transcript is the text version of the words spoken in your video. Adding a transcript to your video allows you to implement standard SEO tactics like keyword placement.

Since search engines can’t crawl videos, transcripts give them an opportunity to index and rank this type of content. Additionally, a video transcript improves user experience (UX), thus keeping visitors on your website longer.

Transcripts also improve accessibility. Even though Google says that accessibility isn’t a ranking factor yet, it may become one in the future (and it’s just good to keep accessibility in mind in the name of equality). 

While creating transcripts, you can break them up and add captions to your video. This way you create extra text for the search engines to crawl.

Pro tip: Don’t have time to type up transcripts yourself? There are softwares and services that can do it for you. Just make sure to double-check the results to make sure everything was transcribed properly.

2. Choose the right hosting option

As a platform, YouTube has an advantage since videos uploaded to YouTube are automatically, and almost instantly, indexed in Google search. However, it’s worth noting that YouTube videos often rank for their instance on YouTube.com instead of the location on your website.

If you decide to host videos on paid platforms (Vimeo, Wistia), you gain more control of your videos like inserting links or CTAs.

Generally, YouTube is the most popular hosting option for SEO efforts. However, if the budget allows, it could also be worth it to at least explore other platforms with potentially higher video quality and more customization options.

Pro tip: If you decide to use different hosting platforms, don’t copy-paste all the metadata. Rather, take this opportunity to diversify the text to improve your chances of ranking for different keywords.

3. Optimize titles and descriptions

Similar to a blog post, videos need title and meta description optimization. If you want the video to rank higher, pay attention to these two elements. They should include keywords that your target audience is searching for. Oh, and as with any content you publish, avoid the black-hat tactic of keyword stuffing.

After all, SEO shouldn’t be your only goal when creating titles and descriptions. While you should aim to put keywords as close to the beginning as possible, focus on how engaging and clickable the text is — that’s going to be what gets you the results you want.  

4. Create a video sitemap

A video sitemap includes information about the video hosted on your webpage. Creating such a sitemap helps Google find, understand, and index video content on your website. It’s especially useful for new video content Google hasn’t had the chance to crawl yet.

Creating a video sitemap allows you to provide a variety of details and create an additional presence on a video.google.com search. You can submit a video sitemap through the Google Search Console the same way you would for any other XML sitemap.

Confused about sitemaps, videos, or digital marketing in general? Let us help.

video editing software on desktop computer

When a thumbnail appears in search results, it’s your best chance to catch the attention of your target audience. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Explore rich snippet SEO for videos

When your website is marked up in such a way that it lets Google know you want to promote a video, the search result appears with a thumbnail of a video. Thumbnails can increase your clickthrough rate (CTR).

To increase the chances of a rich snippet video appearing next to the search results, you need to add the schema markup to the HTML code of your video page. The schema markup is an additional map that helps search engines crawl your page and display it in search results with a video rich snippet.

6. Be strategic about thumbnail quality

When a thumbnail appears in search results, it’s your best chance to catch the attention of your target audience. The best ones are eye-catching, high-quality, and informative. Think of the thumbnail as an ad for your video. 

As a reminder, the thumbnail doesn’t need to be a frame from the video. It can be a separate image designed to attract the searcher.

7. Focus on video quality

While the video quality isn’t necessarily a ranking factor, it does affect the way users interact with your website. If visitors leave after a few seconds of watching your low-quality video, your bounce rate goes up. 

Creating a high-quality video doesn’t mean you have to invest thousands into professional equipment and a production team. It’s more about ensuring the video is easy to watch, carries value, and speaks to your audience.

Pro tip: If you want the search engine to see your video, keep it closer to the top of the page, or “above the fold.”

8. Keep it short

If you want videos to contribute to your SEO efforts, consider keeping them on the shorter side. If your potential audience is pressed for time, they may not be able to watch a long video.

Many people look at the video length before starting to watch it. If they see something longer than 5-10 minutes, they may be more likely to abandon it before clicking the play button.

Of course, if your video is truly valuable, it’s likely to rank high anyway.  However, you may want to consider breaking it down into several short videos. This will also give you an opportunity to use more keywords in titles and descriptions.

The takeaway

Videos continue to rise in popularity for businesses trying to target their audience and grow their reach. It’s easy to see why: They help companies achieve marketing goals from lead generation and conversion to brand awareness. 

Optimizing your video marketing with SEO can boost your marketing efforts and bring more people to your website. As long as you keep rankings in mind when creating videos, implementing SEO into your video marketing strategy shouldn’t be complicated.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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