SEO 101: How to Optimize On-Site Videos

by Stephanie Woods February 3rd, 2011 


To help get your videos indexed in Google's Universal search results, there are steps you can take to help advance your rankings. But first things first. In order for your site to rank in Universal Search Results, you need to host the video on your site (maximize your exposure and still keep them on YouTube as well).

Once the videos are hosted on your rockin' website, you're ready to begin on-site video optimization.

Video Sitemap

Like a regular sitemap, the video sitemap helps search engines to properly index your videos. Each URL entry must contain the following information:

  • Title
  • Description
  • Play page URL
  • Thumbnail URL
  • Raw video file location and/or the player URL (SWF)

For more information on this check out Creating a Video Sitemap from Google.

Title of the Video

Using your keyword list, create an optimized video title. For example, "How to Roast a Turkey" is better than 'Turkey Done Real Good' (although I am somewhat partial to the latter).

Surrounding Text

The text that surrounds the video can be a strong indicator for what is contained within the video, so ensure that you take the time to provide some relevant content for the video. For example, using the example above (How to Roast a Turkey) you can provide some background info on selecting and roasting a turkey.

URL Structure

Optimize the URL so that it uses keywords from your keyword list. Use dashes instead of underscores as search engines view underscores as a hard character. For example, mens_pants is read as 'mens underscore pants' while using a dash (mens-pants) reads as 'mens pants'.

File Names

Take the time to properly optimize your file names using your keyword list (assuming you already have a keyword list). This also helps search engines to identify and index your videos properly.

Embed Links to Your Site

And last but certainly not least, embed a link in the video so that when someone posts your amazing videos on their thriving site, you've just earned yourself credit and a link back to your site.

Now go forth and optimize young Jedi.

Stephanie Woods

Stephanie Woods is a Search Specialist at Blast Radius in Vancouver, BC.

Steph Woods SEO

You May Also Like

15 Responses to “SEO 101: How to Optimize On-Site Videos”

  1. Gemma says:

    These steps are really simple, but definitely help to get videos indexed. Many of these principles can also be applied to images for Google image search.

    • Indeed they are simple steps Gemma. The key here is incorporating these steps into the initial implementation of the videos. If you have thousands of videos on your site, it will take some time to go back and do all of these steps if not done in the first place. Which is why it's so important for companies to consult an SEO in the planning stages of a site's (re)design.

  2. Jnoden says:

    Good tips for optimising videos! With Video becoming more and more important on the search results it is important they are optimised if you would if you are wanting it to appear on the search results.

  3. How exactly should we "embed a link in the video?" I already put links in my YouTube description, but that wouldn't get me a link if someone embedded my video.

    • Good question. I made that step sound a lot more simple than it is. Since the tips are actually for optimizing onsite videos, you are free to use what ever video player you want since it's on your site. This is the where you need to enlist the help of some software ninjas to create a little customization for you. I am fortunate to work at a kickass agency that has lots of ninjas kicking around. (I have no idea how they actually do it. I just have to ask and it's done for me.)

  4. Chris says:

    Good tip, Don't see a lot of blogs about video submission.

    • Hey guys, so sorry for the uber latent response. I was in the midst of being swamped by work when you asked the question.

      Here's the thing, you can have the video hosted anywhere in order for it to rank, this is true. But if you have your video hosted on YouTube (as an example) and it's hosted there AND on your site, you are virtually competing with YouTube for who is going to show up in universal search results. If you have a hugely popular video site then it is possible you'll outrank, however, for most people outranking YouTube isn't going to happen. The domain is a strong force to be reckoned with.

      If you come across any examples of people outranking YouTube for a video they've created I'd love to check it out!

  5. Ron says:

    Google never stated that the video have to hosted on "my" domain. They just stated that the thumbnail and video .swf have to be on the same domain name. I'm really confused now!

  6. mark says:

    @chris – our site has lots – that's what we've written about 4 years :)

    Ron – you dont need the video and image to be on your domain, and it can actually be on different domains, but Google does need to be able to see it on your specified landing page as well.

  7. mark says:

    Hey Stephanie – Im not sure why it wont let me reply here to you. Anyways – 2 things, though in general, you're totally correct. 1) It is next to impossible to get your own site in the google video results with a youtube embed as the video on your own domain. Right now, Google doesnt index URLs with google embeds outside of 2) When competing with youtube results in universal search, it really depends on the topical nature of the domains and the keyword search as Ive often seen highly topical sites outrank with very low PR. Anyways – just thought that may help. We wrote about YouTube cannibalization which Im sure you could find in a search if you're interested in reading Id love your feedback

    • Hi Mark,

      Sorry I just re-read what I wrote and realized I explained myself incorrectly. (I knew what I was trying to say, but it didn't come across that way!) Most definitely you can outrank YouTube IF the video is hosted on your own domain. I was saying it will be pretty tough to outrank YouTube if the video isn't hosted on your own site. For a good example, search for 'snowboarding' on Google and you'll find sites other than YouTube ranking.

      I was trying to directly respond to Ron and Clair, but for some reason it posted my answer under Chris, which probably made it even more confusing. (Thank goodness it's Friday!)

  8. Excellent tips – this is one of the first blogs I have read about optimizing videos.

  9. […] SEO 101: How to Optimize On-Site Videos […]