We all know the importance of SEO when posting content on the web. We even sometimes post content specifically for the sake of optimizing the visibility of a site, adding in more text to keep keyword density up and relevant, without affecting the overall flow of the site itself. Whole articles are sometimes posted on sites that aren’t blogs for the sole purpose of drawing traffic.
This same principle – albeit with a different practice – is often applied to images. The alt text, long tail keywords and file names are crafted to best bypass other photos on image search. The photo dimensions are changed in hopes of bringing the person to the actual site it originated from. EXIF data is added for the sake of giving even more for the search engine to draw from in results.
But what about videos? Google has long since been bumping YouTube videos up in their rankings list, thanks to their acquisition some time ago of the site. But are there specific SEO practices that can be applied to video uploads, whether posted on YouTube or not? The answer is: yes, and everyone posting videos should be using them.
Creating Content That Spreads
The first step has no direct link to SEO, but it is still relevant and too often ignored. The quality of your content is ultimately going to dictate how often it’s seen and shared. General marketing practices should be employed, and care should be taken to create something interesting, engaging, high quality, and providing a call to action for viewers.
After all, what could be a better SEO tactic than having a video that goes viral? Already it will establish its own link to search engines, due to the sheer volume of searches and popularity. It’s like branding a keyword, and the best thing that can possibly happen.
Of course, viral videos are difficult to make, and popularity won’t always be achieved on its own. Which takes us to the optimization portions of your task.
Choosing a Hosting Site
There are a ton of hosting sites out there, though we usually only hear about the two most spoken about by marketers: YouTube and Vimeo. Both are the high traffic sites, and will probably provide a spot for most of your content if you choose to go with a third-party host. But those sites are crowded with videos, with thousands uploaded a day.
You can choose another third-party host that is not so full, upping your chances of being seen. That is what has led many people to less frequented sites like Blip, and even international sites like Youku and Tudou.
But there is an alternative you are seeing more often these days, which is hosting on your site yourself. While this has the immediate benefit of drawing traffic directly to you through your own content, it does potentially make it harder to encourage sharing. Though you are able to link-build through embedding clips, which is always a plus.
For most, I would suggest a mix of both. Put your content on your own site to use for embedding, direct linking, etc. Then create a YouTube account linked to your main page and re-upload there, with a link to your site in the video descriptions. Disable embedding from YouTube, making people do it from your site instead. That way you get the benefits of both self hosting, and the increased visibility of using a site like YouTube (Vimeo is also an option).
Simple SEO Tips
- Use long tail SEO titles. The more specific the title of your video, the more likely it will come out on top, when that specification is searched for. That doesn’t mean it should be obscenely long or bizarrely descriptive. But if you were posting a photo of your friend jumping into a swimming pool on a pogo stick, you would title it something like’ Juan Pogo Stick Jumps Into Swimming Pool!’ Instead of something short, such as ‘Pogo Jump’. It provides more detail, and will rank better.
- Match title and title tags. Most meta-data used on your video will be fine if you are unique. But your title and title tags should match, which will immediately show you results in ranking. Here’s a bit more info on Youtube SEO
- Place keywords in upload description. Your description box is there for more than just gushing over how cool a video is and begging for subscriptions. You should place plenty of keywords into the description of the video. Especially when using YouTube, since Google will give these videos preference in results.
- Don’t forget the file name. Before uploading, make sure you change the file name to something matching the video title or subject of the video itself. It doesn’t have to be long, just relevant.
- Interlink videos to other content. There is a reason that so many videos on YouTube or Vimeo will provide links to other videos the creator has made. Or websites hosting their own content will have a ‘related videos’ section on the page. It’s an effective way to drive traffic and a good call to action. It doesn’t specifically address SEO, but it should still be used.
Do you have any tips for video SEO? Let us know in the comments!