A Professional’s Guide to Video SEO for Ranking Higher

by | April 5, 2022

If you’re a professional who has been working in the digital space for any decent length of time, SEO will be something you’ve crossed paths with before. Much like video chat online, it’s an area of modern business that is impossible to ignore. As the value in being found on the first page of a search engine has increased, the mechanisms that allow a website to do this have become a key point of focus for any strategy.

Coinciding with this has been the emergence of video as the internet’s favorite format. As social media sites have sprouted up like behemothic skyscrapers in a digital landscape originally conceived to store information, content consumers have gravitated towards video more than its written, pictorial, or audio counterparts.

Bringing these two elements together requires looking at video SEO. It’s a vital topic to understand for the modern digital business. You may have questions like “What is the best blogging platform to use?” or “What is churn?”. But, in this guide, we’ll be focusing on exactly what video SEO is and share some handy considerations on how anyone can use it to rank higher online.

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1. What is Video SEO?

To begin, though, let’s make sure we’re all on board with what video SEO is. After all, there’s no point discussing how to do something better if that “something” isn’t understood in the first place. For example, if you were running a contact center, you wouldn’t introduce new analytics without first taking time to understand what contact center analytics you valued and what they meant.

Put simply, video SEO is the practice of optimizing your video content so that it can be indexed and increase your ranking on search engine results pages. This is underpinned by relevant keyword functionality, as with any SEO optimization.

As mentioned above, in the last half-decade or so, video has emerged as an incredibly popular format for digital marketers and content creators alike. It’s now reached the point where any activity that we undertake online brings us into contact with some kind of video content, and our personal devices contain the ability to shoot HD content on a whim.

The democratization of video content creation may have been good from this perspective, but it has made competition over those vital first-page search results significantly tougher. However, if you stick to some of the following key principles, you have a better chance of winning out.

SEO spelled out on a white canvas

Photo by Merakist on Unsplash

2. Thumbnails

Out of the options between image and text, our eyes are always going to be drawn towards images first. Ensuring that the image associated with your video — a thumbnail, to use its technical term — is engaging and inviting so that more people click on it can help your video SEO rank.

It’s the video equivalent to a website landing page, so think about its style and how it fits in with the rest of your branding. The font of any text, the colors used, and the subject of the image itself should all be recognized as suitable for the brand itself. 

This is something made a lot more manageable by the existence of custom human thumbnails. Utilizing this means that your thumbnail is something you can have editing control over and isn’t just a random screenshot of the video. Instead, it’s something that fits into the brand aesthetic that you’re looking for.

A graph shows the popularity of custom thumbnails on YouTube

Source: Backlinko

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3. Title and Description

Whenever you go to read something online that you’ve found on a search engine, the title is accompanied by a little preview of some text.

With video content these days, it’s no different. The title and description of your video are reflected as the clickable link and preview text that a search engine user will see. As well as the thumbnail, they’ll use this information to decide whether your video is worth clicking on or not.

Bearing keyword research in mind — a crucial element of any SEO strategy — you should seek to optimize both the title and description of your video to its maximum during the editing process. Titles and descriptions that do this well will increase their SEO ranking exponentially.

A timeline in Adobe Premiere Pro

Photo by Wahid Khene on Unsplash

4. Focus

This seems counterintuitive to the rest of this piece, but it’s important not to lose sight of the elements of your page that aren’t video content. You can optimize a video title, description, and thumbnail to their absolute peak, but if the rest of your webpage hasn’t received the same attention to detail, search engines won’t increase your ranking, and the customers that do visit will be put off by content that doesn’t seem to match.

A great way to avoid this through video is to continue to make optimized content. That way, your page will build momentum, and, as the ranking begins to increase through the strength of video content alone, it can be easier to amend other parts of the page so that everything aligns.

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5. Transcript

As the rise of video content has continued, how users interact with it has become surprising. For example, a staggering 79% of video content viewed on LinkedIn is viewed on mute or without sound. The process of using subtitles as part of the video editing process has become second nature, not only for those who are hard of hearing but also for those on the go as well.

When it comes to video SEO, this also provides an extra avenue through which you can gain an advantage. By providing a full transcript for each and every video you produce, you’re not only making your content more widely accessible. You’re also giving more content onto which search bots can latch, as it is an extra piece of text available on your page.

6. Platform

Everything we’ve dealt with so far has concerned the creation of the content itself. We’ve discussed several different elements that you should consider while creating the content you wish to promote. However, other factors that exist outside of this process also impact your ability to optimize your SEO results.

For example, the platform on which your videos are hosted has a knock-on effect on their SEO results. This is because different platforms are geared towards delivering different internet impacts. Similarly, they’ll also have different levels of security coverage, which is something else to consider before choosing one.

YouTube homepage

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

For example, YouTube and Vimeo – two of the world’s most famous video-hosting platforms – suit those looking for brand awareness and exposure, who aren’t all that concerned about website traffic or sales figures. Whereas, if traffic and conversion are your aims, Wistia could be the platform for you.

7. Repetition

Until now, the focus of this article has been on things you should do. However, just as vital in achieving video SEO success is avoiding the things that you shouldn’t do. Here, we find bad practices around SEO for affiliate marketing purposes and the compelling yet futile idea of trying to improve your rank by posting the same video in several different places.

This is the search engine equivalent of only paying checks that bounce. Since SEO has become such a vital part of digital business success, search engines have become tougher on cynical activity that spams their bots into giving higher ranking to unworthy websites.

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8. Promotion

We’ve talked a lot about how SEO can benefit your experience online. And this is the case for so many successful digital businesses and content creators out there. Even we have to admit, though, that it isn’t the be-all and end-all. 

Much like a cloud based phone service doesn’t quite cover every part of modern telephonic communication, video SEO doesn’t cover all digital success. As such, don’t rely on your SEO ranking as a guarantee of the kind of success you’re hoping to achieve.

For a start, it is unpredictable. You can research keywords and successful techniques to try and gauge the system in your favor, but all too often, these can only take you so far.

Google app in the Apple app store displayed on a tablet

Photo by Souvik Banerjee on Unsplash

Google — the world’s biggest search engine — is almost constantly amending its algorithms in one way or another. Added to this, the rise of online video content continues at pace, and, as such, its evolution is turning it into a format of web content that’ll be unrecognizable in a year or two. It’s also a process that relies on outsider software to succeed, which is leaving a little too much to chance.

So, outside of increasing your SEO ranking, look to put together effective promotional campaigns. Social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn offer great support for video content that can deliver wonderful results, whatever your end goal is. Similarly, making the most of business partnerships as a form of cross-promotion is more reliable than hoping your SEO improvements will be enough to see you stay ahead of, or gain, an advantage over your competition.

9. Conclusion

In this article, we’ve taken a look at video SEO and the importance it holds in modern digital life. We’ve also shared some great tips on how to improve your SEO practices as well as external things to consider when building a successful online presence.

With the rate of change being so relentless and fast, it’s often difficult to know whether to invest any resources in something like SEO. And while using video freelancers is an attractive idea, it can drive directly against the conception of a video SEO strategy.

Especially if you’re just starting out, it can feel as though the world is against you, and there’s no meaningful way in for newcomers. However, sticking close to many of the principles discussed above, which are confirmed by industry success stories, should give you, at a very minimum, a great foundation from which to grow your online empire.

Video SEO Jenna Bunnell Headshot

Jenna Bunnell – Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Dialpad

Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. She has written for domains such as Shift4Shop and CEO Blog Nation. Here is her LinkedIn.

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