5 Steps to Video SEO Dominance

Posted by Steven Shattuck |27 Sep 12 | 0 comments

5 Steps to Video SEO Dominance

Video SEO, despite being an incomplete term that also describes viewer accessibility and experience, is important to the success of any piece of online video content.

While the audience should be your primary focus, search engine accessibility is typical critical to achieving desired KPIs like views, likes and shares.

In the video below, I outline five essential components to achieving video SEO success.

1) Make A Good Video

Too often the concept of “Video SEO” is either an after-thought or a strategy used to bolster or salvage a mediocre-to-poor video. Many things can contribute to a poor video: bad production values, lack of clarity around the concept, goal and audience, and a distribution/promotion strategy that wasn’t integrated into the production itself.

Pre-production on a video should focus on a very well-defined reason for creating the video. Ask yourself the following questions before even picking up a camera:

  • What are your primary objectives for producing video?
  • How will the video be integrated into your marketing plan?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • How familiar will they be with the messages you want to communicate?
  • What do you want the audience to learn?
  • What do you want the audience to feel?

If you know the answers to these questions before production begins, your video will be infinitely more effective, and it will be easier to optimize it online – especially as it pertains to your marketing plan.

Once production begins, concentrate on achieving the highest production values you can. Clean and clear audio is paramount. Use a tripod or monopod if you can. Shoot in a well-lit room.

Editing is just as important, and can be overwhelming. Candidio is a great service that allows you to upload raw footage to be professionally edited. This is a cost-effective way to expedite video post-production.

2) Transcription

In my mind, this is the most important step of any online video production, distribution and promotion strategy. Having a written transcript of your video content not only allows those with hearing impairments to access your content. Transcripts can also be used to support your video content, and also opens the door to repurposing.

My favorite resource for transcription services is SpeechPad. For $1 a minute, you can have your video transcribed by either uploading a file or sharing a direct link to the video. They even give you four text formats and an audio file.

3) Hosting

Once you’ve produced your video and transcribed the content, it is now time to publish. When it comes to hosting, you have two options:

  1. Self-Hosting
  2. Third Party Hosting (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.)

This is a hotly contested debate amongst SEOs, content marketers and video producers. While I typically fall into the YouTube camp, I’ll try to break it down fairly for both arguments:

  • If you self-host, the video sits on your domain. All traffic generated by interest in your video is funneled to your domain.
  • If you host on YouTube, traffic goes to YouTube. They see your content on YouTube, but the YouTube.com domain gets all the traffic.

Sounds like self-hosting is the way to go if you want to generate traffic to your site, right? Here are aspects of YouTube that you lose out on:

  • Social networking features (likes, comments)
  • Ease of use, sharing and embedding
  • Free analytics
  • Customizable player

A Quick Note About Vimeo

If you choose Vimeo as your third-party video host, know that their terms of service can potentially limit the content you publish:

COMMERCIAL USE: You may not use the Vimeo Service for commercial purposes unless:

  • You are a Vimeo PRO user, in which case you may use and access the Vimeo Service for commercial and non-commercial purposes, subject to compliance with the Vimeo PRO Guidelines; or
  • You are a small-scale independent production company, non-profit, or artist, in which case you may use the Vimeo Service to showcase or promote your own creative works.

If you end up self-hosting, keep in mind that you’ll also need to build or source some sort of player for your video, as well as customize it.

Either way, you’ll eventually want to embed the video on a page or post on your website, especially if you’re using YouTube.

4) On-Page Support

A video can’t exist by itself on a webpage – it needs supporting material, specifically text content. Ideally, a video should support content that already exists on a webpage: a product description, service offering explanation or customer testimonial.

In the case of a blog post, the video may be the headlining content that needs to be supported.

In this post for Slingshot SEO, I outline a simple 3-step format for repurposing videos on blog posts:

  • Brief introduction
  • Embedded video
  • Transcript

Including the transcript on-page is a good way to give the hearing impaired access to your content, as well as adding text content to your website in general.

It’s no accident that I listed transcription as the #2 thing to do, even before you publish your video – you want to have this ready to go when it comes time to upload to YouTube (don’t forget to upload your transcript with the video) and embed on your website.

Go one step further by adding schema.org video markup, which will help Google index and show your videos in search. The markup lists details of your videos, like title, thumbnail, description, audience, language, publisher – among much more metadata.

For further explanation, here’s a nice overview from the Google Webmaster Blog.

5) Video Sitemap

If you have a lot of video content on your site, invest the time in creating a video sitemap – not to be confused with your (hopefully) existing HTML sitemap or xml sitemap. The video sitemap is a separate xml file that essentially tells Google what video content you have on your site, in order for them to index that content.

Google has a decent tutorial on creating a video sitemap. Once you’ve created your sitemap, you’ll have to submit it to Google through Webmaster Tools in the same way you submit a regular xml sitemap.

If writing a video sitemap seems overwhelming, you can purchase software that will generate it automatically for you.

Summary: take the time to concentrate on steps 2-5, after you’ve made a great video. The hard work will pay dividends in the form of enhanced viewer experience, shares and views.


So the question is:  What is the best way to SEO a new video? Are there any special rules we should follow?

Well, that’s a great question. Video SEO is something that’s very important in order to get your video seen by as many people as possible. It’s something that’s written a lot about online. So I’m going to try to boil it down to five really high level of components in terms of video SEO. 

My first suggestion is to make a good video. A lot of people kind of consider SEO to be a fix or some sort of magic bullet in terms of any video, but if the video isn’t that great, no SEO trick in the world is going to help it get seen. So quality content wins online. Just remember that. Make sure that your video is educational or insightful or entertaining and is right for the audience that you want to reach.

Once you’ve made a good video, the next thing to do is to transcribe your video. Notice that I put transcription before publishing. I will get into that a little bit later. Basically, you want to transcribe everything that’s said or heard in the video. That’s for people who may have audio impairments. You want to make sure that your content is accessible to those folks. So be sure to get it transcribed, and I will list a couple resources for that in the video description below.

Once you’ve got your video and you’ve got it transcribed, it’s time to publish the video. In terms of hosting, you basically have two core options. One, you can self-host, so the video file will actually reside on your domain through some sort of custom player that’s actually on your site versus a third party host, like YouTube or Vimeo.

So the decision you have to make is, is it more important that people are on your domain watching your video through self-hosting, or that it can maybe a little bit more accessible on a site like YouTube. So you kind to have to decide which means more to you. If you host on YouTube, you’re actually driving traffic to YouTube. Now they’re watching your content, but YouTube’s domain kind of gets all the credit in that regard. Of course, YouTube has a lot of other benefits, like all the social features and things like that. So you kind of have to decide which means more to you there.

Regardless of your choice, once you’ve made that decision, it’s time for the on-page support. Now whether you’re self-hosting or hosting through YouTube or Vimeo, you’re probably going to want to embed your video on your website, either on a web page or on a blog post. When you do that, you want to make sure you support it with a lot of things. So if you write a blog post for example, you might want to write some text that introduces the video, then embed the video, and then you’ll want to also include the transcript literally on page. That’s a really kind of nice format for posting a video.

There are things you can do on the back end as well to support it. So there is schema markup. There’s actually markups specifically made for video content, and I’ll actually include some of those resources in the description because it’s pretty technical and I don’t’ want to get into it too much in this video.

Keep in mind that if you host on YouTube, you  want to also fill in all those on-page factors, like the title of the video on YouTube, the description field that they give you, and all of those other keyword type things taht you can fill out on YouTube. All that’s really important.  So make sure you do a good job filling those out.

Finally, you’ve got your video, you’ve got your transcript, it’s hosted, it’s on your website, and it’s supported by great content as well. Now what you want to do is create a video sitemap. Now a video sitemap is actually different than a HTML sitemap or an XML sitemap. It tells Google, or any other search engine for that matter, what video content specifically is on your website. It’s a little technical to put together and to explain in this video, so I will also include that in the description of this video. A video sitemap is definitely worth the time and investment to create, especially if you have a lot of video embedded on your site.

So that’s sort of my five quick tips for video SEO. Hope it was helpful and good luck.

Steven Shattuck

Steven Shattuck

VP of Marketing at Bloomerang
Steven Shattuck is VP of Marketing at Bloomerang, which helps nonprofit organizations to reach, engage and retain the advocates they depend on to achieve their vision for a better world.
Steven Shattuck
Steven Shattuck

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