The Ultimate How-to Guide for Optimising Video for Search Engines

In our last couple of blogs, we’ve discussed the rise of video marketing, and specifically, last week the different hosting options available. Today’s blog I’d like to focus on guidelines when it comes to video optimisation for search engines.

Before beginning to optimise, here are some video creation tips you should consider:

  • Showcase your brand / URL
  • Add a clear call to action, for example ‘Make Vanuatu your next holiday destination with X Cruises’
  • Limit content to 5-10 minutes
  • Break content up into digestible chunks (broken up videos can always form part of a series)
  • Choose descriptive, compelling video titles, for example ‘Stunning Cascade Waterfalls, Port Vila, Vanuatu’
  • Choose a good thumbnail – this is the first thing users see and it plays a key role in whether they click or not, so make sure you pick one that is compelling and relevant. Take a look at for some examples
  • Create a consistent ‘personality’ for your videos


Hosting Videos Offsite/Third party hosting

Video content hosted by the likes of YouTube should be informative, useful and engaging enough to entice users to visit your website. You also want viewers to share videos around, to build up the popularity of your YouTube channel.

Typically, video content is ideal for how-to’s, DIY’s, guides, reviews and even ‘crazy’ product demonstrations such as the Blendtec videos.

Tips for optimising offsite videos:

  • Tag videos with relevant keywords, use the YouTube keyword suggestion tool to find additional keywords that are trending. Tag videos with no more than 10-15 phrases
  • Optimise video meta data (title, description) by including keywords
    • Limit titles to 50 characters (double check to ensure all title words appear in the results when a search is conducted)
    • Place the hyperlink in the video description first
    • Place keywords in the first 140 characters of the video description
    • Limit descriptions to 500 characters
    • Include location information (i.e., Australia) within the description
  • Create captions (transcripts) for videos on YouTube and other channels as they are readable by search engines.


Hosting Video Onsite/Self hosting

At some stage you may choose to host your videos onsite using a video hosting platform. This can be useful for driving direct traffic to your site, self-branding, and building inbound links for SEO purposes.

Tips for Optimising self hosted videos

  • Provide unique filenames for each video and place keywords within these. For example, Multi-Function-Printer.swf rather than 1235435.swf
  • Break up videos that are longer than 5 minutes into 5 minute segments, and place on separate pages
  • Ensure Google can crawl video pages to be included in universal search results. In the same way web pages are ranked, Google can position the most relevant video according to a user’s search term
  • Create a video site map, ensuring the following:
    • Each video has a unique URL
    • Do not place more than 10,000 video items on a video sitemap
    • The following tags must have content for each video item. Google uses these tags to verify a live video is present on the landing page:
      • <video:player_loc>
      • <video:content_loc>
  • Only use one <video:video> tag for each video file available on the website. If a page contains multiple videos, create a separate tag for each
  • Ensure the robots.txt file is not blocking both videos and the video sitemap.


Optimising Video landing pages and videos embedded onsite

  • Provide a HTML transcript of the video content within the landing page if possible, or a keyword rich synopsis. This should be placed relatively close to the video within the page code
  • Each page should have at most one video and each page’s video should be unique
  • Optimise page elements with popular search terms which are relevant to the video, use the YouTube keyword research tool to assess different terms. The presence of video in Google’s universal search results for a given keyword is also an indicator that the term is valid for video
  • Ensure that the page where the video is embedded has keyword rich meta data. If videos are to be embedded on their own unique pages then using rich structured data using microformat markup as specified at is a must.
  • Remember to only embed videos into pages which have similar and relevant content.


Promoting & Linking to Videos

Linking to the YouTube channel or to the product pages can help to boost the popularity of the videos and result in a higher viewership rate – all things that we really want! And linking also helps to boost the rankings of the YouTube video/video channel or your video page for given keyword searches.

So what about promoting the videos online? Here are some suggestions on how to do this:

  • Syndicate videos by submitting to RSS/MRSS feeds and video search engines
  • Publish MRSS feeds or a video sitemap to ensure search engines discover video URLs
  • Provide links to videos from social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter
  • If you decide to host videos onsite, offer the option for partners to embed these on their own site. Ask them to use a keyword rich anchor text to link back to your landing page where the video is hosted.

Which brings us to the end of our three part series on Video Marketing and how to optimise it within your marketing and SEO strategies. We hope you found it useful!

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