Zach Jackson

Video content is an excellent way to boost user engagement, but, like any form of content, your on-site videos need to be optimised for both human users and search engines if they’re to elevate your SEO efforts.

In this article, we guide you through all the major aspects of SEO video optimisation, from tag selection to your choice of thumbnail, so you can unlock the full potential of your video content.

Produce high-quality video content

The techniques for enhancing your on-site videos for greater visibility in the SERPs are myriad, but before you get into the nitty-gritty, it’s vital that you start strong.

The foundation of successful video SEO lies in creating high-quality video content that not only resonates with your audience but also keeps them engaged.

Quality should be your top priority from the outset. Start by carefully planning your video, ensuring it delivers value, addresses the needs of your target audience, and aligns with your overall content strategy.

When producing your video, pay attention to factors such as video and audio clarity, lighting, and production values. A well-shot and professionally edited video not only enhances the viewer experience but also reflects positively on your brand's credibility. 

Be deliberate with your video title

Your video's title is the gateway to attracting viewers and search engines alike. It should provide a clear and compelling preview of your video's content while incorporating relevant keywords naturally.

Start by researching keywords related to your video topic and identify those with significant search volume and relevance. These keywords should fit naturally into your title while accurately representing your video's content. Aim for clarity, brevity, and intrigue — your title should pique curiosity and entice viewers to click.

A well-optimised title not only improves your video's search visibility but also sets the stage for a positive viewer experience.

Never underestimate video descriptions

Crafting a compelling and informative video description is a must for attracting both viewers and search engines. Think of it as your opportunity to provide context, entice viewers and optimise for relevant keywords.

Start by writing a concise yet comprehensive description that outlines the video's content, purpose and key takeaways. Use your target keywords in the description, ensuring they align with the video's topic and the search queries your audience might use.

Be picky with your thumbnails

Thumbnails serve as your first impression to potential viewers, making them a vital element in video search engine optimisation.

The golden rule here is to never rely on the auto-generated thumbnail suggested by your video hosting platform. The goal is to stand out, so generic images won’t suffice. Consider this… YouTube reports that 90% of the top performing videos on the platform opt for custom thumbnails.

A well-crafted, custom thumbnail can significantly impact click-through rates and viewer engagement. When selecting or designing a custom thumbnail, aim for clarity, relevance, and visual appeal. It should accurately represent the content of your video while enticing viewers to click. 

Use high-quality images or graphics that are easy to distinguish, even at smaller sizes. Incorporate text sparingly, focusing on a concise and compelling title or caption that complements the thumbnail's imagery.

Remember, your thumbnail is your video's visual ambassador in search results and on social media. By being selective and creative with your custom thumbnails, you can increase the likelihood of capturing viewers' attention and boosting your SEO efforts.

Use timestamps

By marking out the main sections of your video with timestamps, users can cut to the chase and find the information they're looking for immediately. It may lead to lower average view duration, but providing value to users is far more important than any individual metric.

Timestamps can also improve search visibility, as search engines may use them to generate video snippets in search results, hilglighting relevant content and keywords.​​​​​​​

The importance of video tags

Video tags play a pivotal role in ensuring your content reaches the right audience. These tags are essentially keywords and phrases that provide search engines with context for your video's content. When chosen thoughtfully, video tags can significantly enhance your video's discoverability.

To make the most of video tags, begin by researching keywords related to your video. These should align with both your content and your target audience's search queries. Once you've identified these keywords, incorporate them strategically as video tags. Consider using a mix of broad and specific tags to cover various aspects of your video's content.

By carefully selecting and implementing video tags, you help search engines understand what your video is about, increasing the likelihood of it appearing in search results for relevant queries.

Use transcriptions and closed captions

Including transcriptions and closed captions doesn’t just make your video content more accessible to a wider audience; they provide search engines with valuable content to index, improving your video's search visibility.

Start by creating accurate transcriptions of your video's spoken content. You can use automatic transcription services or manually transcribe the dialogue. Once you have the transcription, incorporate it as closed captions within your video. Closed captions should be synchronised with the video's audio, ensuring an inclusive viewing experience.

Seek backlinks

Quality videos are known to generate more backlinks for your pages on their own merit. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get hands-on and leverage your quality content to source favourable backlinks from high-authority domains the old-fashioned way — by reaching out.

Start by identifying websites, blogs or online publications in your niche that may benefit from featuring your video content. Reach out to these potential partners with a well-crafted pitch, highlighting the value and relevance of your video to their audience. 

Collaborate with them on guest posts, guest videos or partnerships that allow you to embed your video content within their pages. Not only does this provide an excellent opportunity for backlinks, but it also expands your video's reach to a broader audience.

Video file name optimisation

Optimising your video's file name may seem like a minor detail, but search engines pay attention to them when indexing content, so choosing a descriptive and SEO-friendly file name is worth the effort.

When saving your video file, avoid generic or vague names like "video.mp4" or "final_draft.mp4." Instead, use a file name that accurately reflects the video's content and includes relevant keywords. Consider using hyphens to separate words for better readability, e.g., ‘how-to-seo-optimise.mp4’.

By giving your video file a meaningful name, you provide search engines with valuable information about your content before they even analyse the video itself. This small yet effective optimisation step can contribute to improved search engine visibility and, ultimately, more organic traffic.

Video sitemaps

Video sitemaps are your secret weapon for ensuring that search engines crawl and index your video content effectively. A video sitemap is a specialised XML file that provides search engines with essential information about your video assets, including titles, descriptions, URLs, and other metadata.

Generating a video sitemap and submitting it to search engines is a proactive step to enhance your video's discoverability. It allows search engines to understand the structure and context of your video content, ensuring it is appropriately categorised and indexed in search results.

To create a video sitemap, you can use online tools or plugins designed for content management systems (CMS) like WordPress. Once generated, submit the sitemap through Google Search Console or other search engine webmaster tools.

Consider mobile users

With an increasing number of users accessing content on smartphones and tablets, ensuring that your videos are mobile-friendly is paramount.

Start by checking that your video player is responsive and can adapt to various screen sizes. Test your videos on different mobile devices to make sure that they load quickly and play smoothly. 

A seamless mobile viewing experience can significantly reduce bounce rates, a factor that search engines consider when ranking content.

​​​​​​​Don't forget about page optimisation

While optimising your videos is essential, don't forget to pay attention to the pages in which they're embedded. Page optimisation plays a critical role in how search engines rank your videos and how users discover them.

Start by ensuring that your webpage's meta tags are relevant to the video's content and include target keywords. This information provides search engines with context and helps them understand the video's subject matter.

Next, embed your video in a prominent location on the page, preferably near the top. A well-placed video encourages user engagement and keeps visitors on your site longer, which can positively impact SEO rankings.

Consider including relevant text content around your video, such as an introduction or summary. This provides additional context for both viewers and search engines, reinforcing the video's relevance to your webpage's topic.

By optimising the web page that hosts your video content, you create a cohesive and informative user experience valued by users and search engines alike.

​​​​​​​Final thoughts

Equipped with the optimisation techniques discussed here today, you can substantially improve on-site video exposure.

Be sure to foster video engagement by being active in comments sections — and keep a close eye on video analytics, focusing on metrics like watch time, engagement, and click-through rates. ​​​​​​​

If you’d like to discuss the benefits of SEO for video in greater detail or need a helping hand getting your website the exposure it deserves, contact us today  we’d love to talk!​​​​​​​​​​​​​​