The Secrets to Video SEO for YouTube & Your Website

Video has quickly become one of the primary ways to communicate with customers because it has the power to increase your conversion rate, increase search ranking and increase your brand exposure whether your business is product or service based. This has introduced a whole new aspect to the world of marketing known as Video SEO. In this guide, I am going to spill the beans on the ‘secrets’ to getting your videos ranking on the first page. 

In a general sense, Video SEO is very similar to normal website SEO in that you need to optimize technical details for keyword topics and you need to garner some links. However, when you start working on implementation and looking at the more technical aspects, there are a number of key differences. This will not be an exhaustive list but it will certainly touch on the most important aspects of ranking well both for YouTube hosted videos and self-hosted videos.

Video Optimizations

The first thing you need to do is make sure your video itself is optimized. This can take place directly on YouTube or using Video Schema for hosting on your own site. The video title is obviously extremely important not only for describing your video properly but for also increasing your CTR which is one of the most important ranking factors on YouTube and Google. Related to this is the thumbnail which can’t really be optimized for keywords but can drastically affect your CTR which will influence your rankings for any keyword.

The next thing you need to optimize for keywords is the video description. This is shown on both YouTube and Google and can influence how either one interprets the topics of your video. The actual file name of your video can play a small role in this interpretation as well so make sure you name your files in a readable way.

On-Page Optimizations (for self-hosted videos)

There are a myriad of reasons to self-host your videos on your website using a service like Wistia and I’ve covered this debate before in this post about using Wistia vs YouTube. What it boils down to is that if you are using video to convert people rather than just drive exposure, you should be hosting the videos on your website.

If you are in-fact self-hosting your videos, you have to do a little extra work to get your them ranking well but luckily, most of these are fairly traditional SEO tactics. The first is to optimize the title tag and meta description of your page just like you would with any blog post. Then make sure to optimize the H1 tag on your post as well to reflect the same keyword topics.

In normal SEO, we know that content towards the top of the page is viewed as the most important and that is doubly important for video. If Google doesn’t see the video right at the top of the page, the chances of it ranking well are greatly diminished. Having the video on the page will certainly still help the overall page rank better but the chances of it showing up as a rich snippet are much lower. Ensure that your videos are embedded as high on the page as possible.

The last video specific page optimization is to include a transcript of your video on the page as well as in your Video Schema. YouTube has gotten quite good at interpreting audio but it isn’t perfect so including this on YouTube as well can be very beneficial.

Off-Page Optimizations

Just like in normal SEO, not all of the optimizations happen on the actual page. Firstly, you need to get links to your page whether it is on YouTube or your own website. People often forget that their YouTube page needs to be optimized in this way just like any other. These need to be high-quality links and should drive traffic/views on their own. If you get poor quality links, you can risk diluting your video engagement metrics which could result in your videos being buried deep. Related to links, make sure that people can embed your videos on their own sites to help drive up your views and engagement.

If you are producing multiple videos that are hosted on your own website, submit a video site map to Google. This will help your video get found and provide all the info Google needs about each of them so you have the best possible chance of ranking well.

Learn more about Video Sitemaps here: https://developers.google.com/webmasters/videosearch/sitemaps

Lastly, when you are selecting what keywords you want to optimize for, make sure to conduct some test searches on these keywords. You want to make sure that you are targeting keywords that already have videos showing up on the SERPs. That is how you know that Google is actually willing to show videos for that query. If you don’t see any videos coming up, there is an extremely strong chance that you won’t be able to get your video ranking under that search.

Video Analytics

User engagement with your videos is one of the biggest factors when ranking on YouTube. They want to see a high view density (many people viewing it in a small time period) to determine relevancy. That is the most powerful way to get rankings quickly.

The videos have to have continued engagement to maintain their new rankings of course so the optimizations to your videos don’t stop after you have published it. Use the vast amount of data that is available to you to continue improving your current and future videos.

When making your video, optimize the first 15 seconds especially because YouTube has found this to be the window that people are most likely to abandon your video. If they stick with it past that, you’ve hooked them for the rest of the video. If YouTube sees this engagement, even with smaller total amounts of views, you will do very well with their algorithm. But be sure to keep an eye out for sharp declines in user engagement after the first 15 seconds as well. If there is a part of the video that is particularly boring and people are skipping that part, replace it with something better.

Lastly, always ask people to engage with your video at the end by subscribing or offer related videos for them to watch. Many people are looking for these and on YouTube, recommended videos drive more views than any other method of finding videos on the platform including search.

The Final Secret Ingredient

So far, all of these ingredients are very easy to implement but often overlooked so it is a great way to rocket past all of the competition. But there is one secret ingredient that can beat all of these: just make killer videos. If you make a video that people really love and learn from, your video is going to do well no matter what. All of these tips will certainly help it go even further but a great video will speak for itself. So just start filming and learn from your mistakes until you are able to deliver something that your audience is truly going to care about.