Video SEO: Best Practices for Optimizing Your Video Content for Search Engines



Optimizing the content inside the content


Time and time again, we hear that we must optimize our websites for SEO purposes and that we must take a multi-level approach to achieve success, including optimizing technically and content-wise. However, we do not often hear about video SEO. Yes, you read that right. Now, anything can be optimized for SEO purposes, and if it can be optimized, we must follow suit and optimize it. But where do you begin when you optimize a video? Well, that’s exactly what we will cover in this article.

Optimizing the content

First, choose a hosting platform for your videos.

Just as with websites, choosing the right hosting platform is incredibly important. You need to find one that keeps your content secure and provides you with all the features you need so that your content can be used in the best possible way. For example, if you want to build your website in WordPress – something we very much advise – there would be no point choosing a hosting platform that doesn’t offer WordPress. Let’s take a look at the frontrunners in the video-hosting world.


YouTube, The Big Kahuna of the video world. Due to its popularity and the fact that it is owned by Google itself, YouTube really does have some great benefits. According to a YouTube press release, YouTube videos reach an impressive audience of over 2 billion people. That’s a lot of views for your videos. So, having a presence on YouTube is very beneficial. However, suppose you want to steer away from third-party branding. In that case, you may want to look elsewhere, as all YouTube videos come with very recognizable YouTube-branded elements that you are unable to change. So, having a YouTube presence is great, but you may want to use a different platform if you embed videos externally.


Vimeo, YouTube’s lesser-known competitor, has many advantages in branding that YouTube doesn’t offer. With Vimeo, it is easy to customize the Vimeo player with brand colours, logos, etc., without the addition of the Vimeo branding. You can add and remove elements from the player quite simply with its editor. This even includes the ability to customize the end screen to either loop your video, remain blank or go back to the video thumbnail when it finishes instead of trying to pull you back to the platform and away from your site at the end of your video.

Vimeo’s video reach is not quite as broad as YouTube’s; however, Vimeo states that it still has over 1.7 million paid subscribers, over 100 billion video views, and 350k+ videos uploaded to the platform every day. So the choice is yours in this case: more reach and SEO bonuses with YouTube or more freedom with branding with Vimeo.


Wistia brands itself as “The Video Platform for Marketers,” offering tools for marketing, video editing, analytics, and a customizable player. Wistia gives you control over video metadata, can generate video sitemaps automatically and supports schema markup, which allows for the use of rich snippets when displayed in the search results, allowing users to see more informative results when your video appears in their searches. However, this service comes at quite a high price tag, with more and more features unlocking per tier. If you chose this route for your videos, you would need to have the cash to sustain a subscription. Probably not the best option for small businesses.

Once again, Wistia does not have the same benefits as YouTube in terms of favour with Google, but it does have a lot of bells and whistles to play with.

The Video Platform for Marketers

Keyword Optimization

Video meta-data is an important part of SEO optimization for videos. Taking the time to research the right keywords for your video titles, descriptions and tags, just like you would with any other content you make, will pay off. If you do nothing else – which we do not advise – then ensure you do this. Having carefully crafted keyword-rich meta-data is a big bonus in the video SEO world. It is especially important that your meta-data is relevant to your content; clickbait is a big no-no in the world of marketing. You should always aim to deliver your content to the audience it is meant for. This way, you will see the best results.




Thumbnails and End Screens

Thumbnails are the very first thing a viewer sees before they dive into a video, so you want to make this attractive to your audience. You want it to be informative yet creative, and remember to stay on brand. As with anything you do, if you want this design to be of high quality, make sure none of the elements are blurred, and any text that you use is clear and readable. If you knew nothing else about your video, would you want to watch it based solely on the thumbnail? If it’s a yes, then you are on the right track.

Of course, Web Geeks always encourages the use of A/B testing. Different things work for different audiences, and adopting a one-size-fits-all attitude to all the content you create isn’t the best approach. Try different approaches and test them with various audiences, then use what works best!

Remember, in terms of SEO, you are looking at the CTR or click-through rate. The higher this is for your video, the better it will rank, so make people want to click it when they see it.

You should also consider using end screens for your videos, especially if you are establishing a presence on platforms such as YouTube. End screens can help direct your viewer to similar content you have made, enhancing the SEO of other videos in your arsenal.

Of course, if you are embedding your content onto your website and you don’t want people to leave your website, a simple end screen with no interactive element is best; think along the same lines as your thumbnail and try and make it something people will remember. You may want to just try a simple logo reveal to enhance your branding. Then, return to the thumbnail as the end state of the video. Having something engaging at the end of the video will keep your viewer watching for just that little bit longer, which will help your video’s SEO.

Transcripts and Captions

Transcripts are a very underrated element of video. Not only do many people like to sit and read the transcript instead of watching a video, or even read the transcript as they are watching the video, but it is also an essential part of SEO. All the major platforms we have discussed allow you to add transcripts to videos, and there are many AI generation tools, either within video creation software, such as Premiere Pro or externally on various websites, that will allow you to generate a transcript for your video automatically often with very basic tweaking needed at the end.

Transcripts allow our friendly neighbourhood search engines to look deeper into the video’s content and, therefore, better understand it and place it in better results. Captions are also great not only for the hard of hearing but also for search engines, as search engines can also crawl these for information.

Video Sitemaps and Schema Markup

Sitemaps – we are all aware of what sitemaps are. They are the navigation epicentre of any website. They index all of your website’s pages and posts, allowing you to feed your entire site into ever-information-hungry places like Google Search Console, allowing it to better index your site. So, what is a video sitemap? Well, a video sitemap is just the same, except instead of showing pages and posts, it lists the URLs of all of the video content on your website. Along with each of those videos, meta-data. So, as you can imagine, it enables the search engine to better place all of your videos according to content and context. Having the meta-data in the sitemaps can also allow the search engine to generate rich snippets to help the user learn more about your video.

So, what is Schema Markup? Schema markup is what we call microdata. It functions very similarly to a video sitemap. It allows you to embed information, such as meta-data and other information, such as the URL of your thumbnail and upload date, etc., straight into your HTML.

So, if a Schema Markup and a Video sitemap contain a lot of the same information, why should I use both? That’s a very good question. Using these two things together can propel your SEO efforts to new heights as long as you are consistent. Make sure that all data contained within your sitemap matches any data you have entered into your Schema Markup. As with anything in life, it always pays to be consistent.

Ranking on search engines is indeed an art form, and it is always best to provide them with as much correct information as possible to help you achieve better rankings. The more we know about something, the better we can explain or reference it; the same principle applies to search engines.

Schema Markup

Timestamps and Chapters

Next time you are watching a video on YouTube, pay attention to the timeline of your video; some timelines have visible breaks. These breaks are chapters, and they help segment your content into nicely rounded sections with titles to make it easier to consume. This practice works great, especially when it comes to things such as how-to videos or presentations. Timestamps, on the other hand, are via a link in the description on sites such as YouTube, whereas chapters are directly clickable from the timeline so that people can skip to the part they really want to see instead of watching your whole 30-minute video.

This practice enhances the user experience and helps search engines find certain parts of your video to highlight and index. So, instead of just directing users to your video, they can direct them to an even more specific section of your video. As I say, the more the search engines know, the better.




Cross-promotion and Embedding

Cross-promotion is key in any avenue of marketing. The best way to reach more people is to be where the people are. Sharing links to your video content on various social media channels will help get your content out into the world. From making a post about your video on Facebook or Instagram to adding a link to a conversation on the same topic on Twitter, there are many different ways to share your content. Remember to take advantage of all relevant platforms.

Then, of course, there is embedding; embedding videos on your website may be why you made the video in the first place; however, if it isn’t, we highly recommend it. If you can go one step further and tie that video into one of your blog posts, that is even better. That’s a two-pronged approach to SEO right there. The video gets indexed as part of the blog post, but it also helps keep people on your blog post for longer, reducing your post’s bounce rate. You may even want to start specially making videos that summarise your article/post for that exact reason. Then, you can promote the post in the highly consumable video form on your social media. Everything helps, so they say.

Cross-promotion and Embedding

High-Quality Content

Last but by no means least, after the technical side of things, we come to the quality of your content. Quality is better than quantity. If you can make 5 videos that have no real appeal in a week or one video that is backed full of great content, then we would advise you to do the latter. As the World of AI descends upon the realms of search engine algorithms, we have seen a huge spike in the preference for quality content. Google likes to direct you to content that is really going to help you, not just something that will entertain you for a few seconds. So, make sure you plan your video content carefully. Make sure your content is useful to your viewers, be it entertaining or educational, and make it something that people will want to like and share.



Key Takeaways

  • Video SEO combines many parts to help your videos rank better with search engines.
  • Choosing the right hosting platform for your video content can increase your video SEO performance and help you achieve brand goals.
  • Optimizing your Meta-data with relevant keywords will help your videos rank better and find the best audience.
  • Video sitemaps and schema markups can work together to inform search engines about your videos’ content.
  • High-quality content with engaging thumbnails and end-screens can help your CTR click-through rate.
  • Cross-promotion and embedding can increase your videos’ SEO performance by creating backlinks and helping people stay engaged with the location where your video is embedded.
  • Transcripts and captions help search engines find more specific information about your video, whilst timestamps and chapters help them recognize the value of different sections of your video.