Optimizing Online Videos for SEO

The popularity of online videos cannot be overstated. Online videos hosted on sites like YouTube or Vimeo are still under-utilized by most SEO strategists. Videos can improve the user experience by providing an alternative to static text and image-based content. Adding online videos as a part of your overall marketing and SEO strategy, with some careful planning, is a great way to maximize your visibility in the search engine result pages. Below are some techniques you can use to achieve that goal:

Succinct Video Title

The video title is displayed in search engine result pages, so succinct and concise titles are beneficial.  To avoid truncation, keep the length to a maximum of 70 characters. Within that character limit do your best to tease what the video is about without giving too much away. If possible, incorporating relevant keywords into the video title can also help boost SEO relevancy.

Write an Effective Description

How you describe your video should carry equal importance to how you title it. Often part of the video description is included in the search result pages, and a well written description may encourage more users to click through to view your video content.  For best results, use one or two concise sentences that describe the content of the video by hitting relevant keywords. The video description is also a great place to include a link to your website and your social media platforms of choice to further encourage user engagement.

Show an Eye Catching Thumbnail

Video thumbnails play a big part in attracting attention to the video. If a custom thumbnail is not provided when the video is uploaded, then a randomly generated screenshot from your video may be used instead. If possible, always upload a custom image to prevent this from happening (https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/72431?hl=en). Pick colorful, attractive and high-resolution images that are optimized for both desktop and mobile users.

Relevant Tags

Use the viewer’s perspective in deciding what tags to use.  What are your users searching for? By using your most important keywords as tags you can increase the chances that your video will get seen by your target audience. Take note that tags are plural sensitive so don’t forget to add both singular and plural forms.  Needless to say, the tags need to be consistent with the video’s content.

Add Video Transcripts

Although Google transcribes your videos automatically, chances are it is not 100% accurate to what is actually spoken in the video. Consider creating a transcript file (https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2734799?hl=en). Search engines can only crawl text, not content contained within videos or images. Adding a transcript allows the search engines to crawl the content of the video therefore increasing your search presence. This gives you an extra place to embed your keywords, which should be in the video content in the first place.

Engage your Viewers.

Adding a call-to action at the end of your video is recommended. Ask your viewers to subscribe, share, like, or comment. You can also entice your viewers to visit your website. However, be wary of overwhelming your viewers by putting too many call-to-actions.

Make Awesome Videos.

Most important of all, create awesome videos. Using only the best video and audio quality is essential. Whenever possible, hire a professional. Make videos interesting and entertaining without sacrificing the message. Drop-offs are common but can be minimized if you take the time to make sure your video is interesting and entertaining enough to take the viewer all the way to the end.

For more on SEO Strategy as a whole, check out this recent blog SEO Strategy: Delivering Current & Relevant Content by Paul Flamiano.