Video SEO: How to Rank Your Videos #1

Feeling defeated by low viewership? Hours of editing and all that was just in vain – this may be discouraging.

We at SEO PowerSuite have been there – the frustration of creating amazing content that gets lost in the noise. 

This guide may become your key to escaping online invisibility. I'll equip you with the knowledge of how to do keyword research for your video, choose the perfect platform for distribution, and optimize your video to get thousands of views.

In short, here is how to do video SEO:

Step 1: Choose the right video hosting platform

Where you host your video matters. Will you publish your video on your own site or choose one of the hosting platforms? Different options have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to video SEO. 

Choosing a platform right away is also important because they have different optimization features. This way, you will immediately know what optimization elements you need to come up with and adequately evaluate the time and effort you need to allocate.

While self-hosting will give you complete control over your video content and storage, it also requires the most technical expertise. You'll need to set up your own server or rent storage space from a cloud provider. And you'll be responsible for managing security, bandwidth, and video playback. Sounds like a lot of work, right?

Self-hosting can be a good option for large businesses or organizations with the resources to manage it, but it may not be the best option for most creators.

So, it’s worth considering a platform like YouTube, Vimeo, Vevo, Twitch, etc. They offer SEO features to help your video get discovered. For example, YouTube is the undisputed king of video SEO, with features like video chapters, transcripts, and cards that can help search engines understand your content. Vimeo and others are also popular options, but they don't have quite the same video SEO power as YouTube.

Important: Whatever hosting option you choose, you need to ensure proper video embedding and indexing. If your video is not indexed, there will be no eyeballs on your content.

For example, to get your self-hosted video indexed by Google, it needs a separate page where this video is the main content. However, having no text at all on the page might not be the best approach for video SEO as well (consider at least adding a transcript – I will talk about it later in the guide). 

YouTube SEO Guide on Ranking Videos in 2024 Learn more

Step 2: Research keywords 

When doing video SEO, the first thing you need to do is find the right keywords. This will help you correctly optimize videos and target viewers who are actively searching for the kind of content you're creating.

Start by using keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner or Rank Tracker. I advise the latter as it offers more than a dozen research techniques, including Keyword Planner and even research methods specific for some video platforms like YouTube. 

How-to: Launch the tool and proceed to the Keyword Research module. Here, choose any research technique you like, enter your main keyword, and collect hundreds of relevant search terms. 

keyword research

Download Rank Tracker

Consider search volume, competition, and user intent while researching keywords. Choose terms that people are searching for, but don’t pick very competitive terms — keywords with lower competition increase your chances of ranking. And make sure the keywords you choose reflect what viewers hope to learn from your video.

Keyword research in Rank Tracker

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Finally, you need to analyze top-ranking videos for your target topic. You’ll need to check what keywords their authors are using and how they've structured their content. To do that, simply enter your target keyword in Google’s search bar and check out the video SERP. 

video serp

Step 3: Work on content quality and engagement

In the online world, content is king (or queen?). Viewers are bombarded with content choices, so you need to create videos that are both informative and engaging to stand out. Here is how to produce genuinely quality content.

Produce high-quality video 

Nobody wants to watch a blurry, muffled mess, right? You need high-quality content that seamlessly blends information with entertainment.

Crisp visuals and clear audio are crucial. Invest in good lighting, steady camera work, and editing software. But remember to provide value by teaching viewers something new, solving a problem, entertaining or inspiring them. 

youtube video

For video SEO, the structure of your video matters too. A well-organized video with a clear flow will hold attention. Avoid long stretches of slow content and keep the pacing engaging. Hook viewers within the first few seconds with an interesting intro, a thought-provoking question, or a surprising fact to pique their curiosity.

Consider video length

Don't try to cram everything into 30 seconds. Complex topics need more time to be explained in detail. Plus, search engines tend to favor videos longer than 30 seconds, and viewers who bounce before the half-minute mark might not even be counted as a view.

The ideal length depends on your topic and audience. Generally, shorter videos (under 10 minutes) are great for grabbing initial attention. 

If your topic is more in-depth, consider segmenting longer videos with timestamps for easier navigation. This allows viewers to jump to specific sections they're interested in.

Interact with audience

Engagement is a powerful force in the world of video SEO, and it can significantly impact your video's ranking. Users’ interactions with your video send positive signals to search engines. This potentially boosts your video's ranking and visibility. 

So, you need to spark conversation somehow. Encourage viewers to share their thoughts and experiences. Ask them to leave comments, like your video, and share it with their network. This not only fuels discussion but also signals to the algorithm that people find your content valuable.

It’ll also be great to respond to comments timely and genuinely. Address questions, thank viewers for their compliments, and even participate in discussions. This shows you care about your audience and not just earn popularity and money.

But don't stop there. Consider running interactive elements like polls and contests to boost engagement and turn viewers into participants. 

Step 4: Optimize your video

Once you've chosen your keywords and platform and produced quality content, it's time to do video SEO itself. This will make it more likely to show up in search results.

Optimize title

Keep your titles snappy and catchy. This is your video's first impression, so make it count.

The first rule of a perfect title is to keep it concise: around 60 characters. Search engines may truncate longer titles, so keep it short.

In your title, try to accurately reflect the video content and grab attention. Use strong verbs and power words to entice viewers to click.

Don't forget to include the focus keyword naturally. However, don't stuff your title with search terms either.

Provide optimized description

Video SEO won’t be complete without description optimization. Give a juicy summary of what viewers can expect from your video, and don't forget to sprinkle in your focus keyword again.

Your video description is like a mini sales pitch for your content. It should entice viewers to click and watch while also informing search engines about the video's topic. 

Hook viewers with a captivating summary (150-300 characters):

  • Start with a bang: Open with a strong statement, question, or interesting fact related to your video's topic. This grabs attention and makes viewers want to learn more.
  • Highlight the benefits: Briefly explain what viewers will gain by watching your video. Will they learn a new skill? Solve a problem? Be entertained?
  • Use your focus keyword naturally: Mention your main keyword or a close variation within the first few sentences. This helps search engines understand your video's content.

For example, your perfect video description might look like this: “Tired of [focus keyword]? Our video reveals the top 3 secrets to finally [benefit of using the focus keyword]. Watch now and transform your [area the focus keyword applies to]!”

Create optimized thumbnail

Your video thumbnail is a tiny billboard for your content. It's one of the first things viewers see in search results and on your channel page, so it needs to make a strong impression.

First of all, keep your thumbnail simple and clear. Avoid cluttering your thumbnail with too many elements or text. People should be able to understand the video's concept at a glance. Focus on a central image or scene that represents the video's content.

Second, use high-quality images. A blurry, pixelated thumbnail will push viewers away. Use clear, high-resolution images that look professional. You’d better make your thumbnail bright and bold. Use vibrant colors and strong contrasts to grab attention in a sea of thumbnails.

Finally, overlay text strategically. Keep it concise and easy to read on a small screen. Use large fonts and avoid fancy fonts that are hard to decipher. Consider using your focus keyword or a benefit viewers will gain from watching the video.

For example, if your video is a tutorial, use an image of the end result or someone following the steps. If your video is a product review, feature a close-up of the product or someone using it. If your video is a listicle, show a numbered list or use emojis to highlight key points.

Here is how we do it on our YouTube channel:

covers for videos

Add closed captions and transcripts

Think about all the times you've watched a video with the sound off – maybe you were doing that during a boring meeting like some of us. 

Closed captions and transcripts make your video accessible to everyone, including those who are hard of hearing or watching in a noisy environment. 

Plus, search engines can't actually watch your video content. Closed captions and transcripts provide them with a text-based understanding of what your video is about. This helps search engines index your video more effectively and match it with relevant search queries.

Would be useful:

  • Including the focus keyword and its relevant variations throughout your captions and transcript. This helps search engines understand the main topic of your video.
  • Offering captions and transcripts in different languages. This can significantly increase your potential audience reach.
  • Ensuring proper formatting for readability. This includes using timestamps, paragraph breaks, and proper spelling and grammar.

Name your video file correctly

As I said, search engines can't watch your video. However, they can read the file name to understand what the video is about. So, to advance your video SEO, make sure your video file name is descriptive and includes your focus keyword. 

Avoid generic names like "video1.mp4." Instead, use keywords that accurately describe the content of your video, such as “keyword-research.mp4.”

Add video Schema markup

Okay, this one's a bit of a technical video SEO tip. Schema markup is like adding subtitles to your video for search engines. It tells them what your video is all about, helping them serve it up to the right audience. This can lead to winning rich search snippets and potentially improve your video's ranking.

Here's how to leverage video schema markup:

  1. Use Google's Video Object Schema: This is the specific schema markup format for videos. It includes properties like video title, description, thumbnail URL, upload date, and duration.
  2. Specify the important details: When creating your schema markup code, be sure to include accurate information for each property.
  3. Generate the code: There are a number of free online tools that can help you generate video schema markup code. Simply enter your video details, and the tool will create the code for you.
  4. Implement the code: Once you have your schema markup code, you'll need to add it to the HTML code of your web page where your video is embedded.

An A-to-Z Guide to Structured Data for SEO Learn more

Add tags where possible

Tags are keywords that help people find your video on platforms like YouTube. They act like labels that categorize your video content, making it easier for viewers searching for specific topics to discover your video.

Select tags that accurately describe the content of your video. Don't try to stuff your video with irrelevant tags in an attempt to game the system (black hat video SEO techniques aren’t welcome).

It would be better to use a combination of broad and specific tags. Broad tags capture a wider audience, while specific tags target viewers who are further along in the customer journey. For example, if your video is about "chocolate chip cookies," a broad tag could be "baking," while a specific tag could be "best chocolate chip cookie recipe."

Step 5: Promote and distribute your video

Just creating a great video isn't enough. To truly captivate viewers and build a following, you need to get your video out there. Here are some powerful strategies to promote and distribute your video content:

Embed videos on relevant websites

If you aren’t self-hosting your video, this point is very important. Imagine placing your video in front of a highly relevant audience already interested in your topic. Embedding your video on websites with good traffic and thematic relevance achieves just that. This increases your video's visibility and allows you to reach a wider audience who might not have found you otherwise.

Here are some tips for strategic embedding:

  • Identify high-traffic websites in your niche: Look for websites that cover similar topics to your video. Industry blogs, news websites, and forums are great places to start.
  • Target complementary content: Don't just go for the biggest website. Look for websites with content that complements your video. For example, if your video is a recipe, target a food blog or website with a cooking section.
  • Reach out to website owners: Many websites allow guest posts or content contributions. Consider creating a blog post that embeds your video and offers additional value to the website's audience. You can also reach out directly to website owners and propose embedding your video in exchange for a link or mention.
  • Make embedding easy: Provide website owners with the embed code readily available. You can also consider using a platform like YouTube that offers easy embedding options.

Social media promotion

Social media platforms are a fantastic way to share your videos and connect with viewers. 

To maximize your social media reach, you need to share your content on the right platforms (where your target audience spends their time) and use relevant hashtags to help people discover your video in search.

Consider joining relevant groups or communities where you can share your video directly with a target audience.

Take your promotion a step further with paid social media ads. This allows you to target your ideal viewers with laser focus, maximizing your return on investment.

A video post on LinkedIn

Collaborations and influencer marketing

Teaming up with other creators or influencers in your niche can be a game-changer. Leverage their established audience reach to gain wider exposure. 

First thing, find the perfect partner. Collaborate with creators who complement your content and share your target audience.

You can offer mutually beneficial collaborations. Explore co-creating content, guest appearances, or shoutouts to each other's audiences.

Extra tips

Create video playlists for better organization and discovery

Don't leave your viewers hunting for related content. Video playlists are a powerful tool to organize your videos thematically and keep viewers engaged for longer stretches.

Track video performance metrics and adjust strategies accordingly

Data is your friend. Don't just create and upload videos blindly. Most video platforms offer analytics tools that provide valuable insights into your video's performance. Here's what to track and how to use the information:

  • Views, watch time, and engagement: Track how many people are viewing your videos, how long they're watching, and how they're interacting (likes, comments, shares). This tells you what content resonates with your audience and what might need improvement.
  • Audience demographics: Understanding your audience demographics (age, location, interests) allows you to tailor your content creation strategy to better serve your viewers.
  • Click-through rates (CTRs): If your videos include calls to action (CTAs), track the click-through rates to see how effective they are in driving viewers to take the desired action (visiting your website, subscribing to your channel, etc.).
  • A/B testing thumbnails and titles: Test different thumbnail images and video titles to see which ones generate the most clicks. This helps you optimize your video presentation for maximum impact.

You can track these metrics right on the platform where you publish your video. Here is what YouTube analytics looks like: 

Tip: You can track your video performance on Google and other search engines, including YouTube, in Rank Tracker. To do this, you need to create a project for your video first. Then, go to Rank Tracking and check the rankings. 

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In the same project, you can add all your videos to track alongside your main URL. In the Project Preferences, add the Alternative URLs. Mind that in the Rank Checking Mode, you need to enable Multiple results tracking. This way, you can track not only your current URL but also alternative URLs that rank for your video keywords.

Download Rank Tracker

Let’s wrap this up

As you see, video creation, optimization, and further promotion require a lot of effort. As much as I want to, I can’t lighten this burden for you. 

However, I’m sure with SEO PowerSuite tools at hand, you will find it much easier to rank your videos higher in search results and get thousands of views. You can download the tools by clicking below.

Rank Your Videos #1 on Google
with SEO PowerSuite tools

Also, don’t forget we have a private SEO community where we discuss the latest SEO news, our tools, and share optimization tips and tricks. Join us there and let’s discuss video SEO. 

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