How to integrate video into your SEO strategy to improve your rankings

Despite the fact that search engines can’t ‘read’ video content, there are a number of ways that you can use video to support your SEO strategy. Video is the fastest growing content type to be found online. Some research has claimed that video results in a Google search are more than 50 times more likely to appear first. In reality, the fact that video’s appear in search results with a thumbnail image means that they are more eye catching anyway, regardless of how high up they are in the rankings.

Here I searched for ‘how to make pancakes’ and immediately, you can see that the video search results are the more attractive option.

What is SEO & why do you need a strategy?

SEO stands for search engine optimisation. Search engines like Google show sites that they believe are most authoritative and relevant. They measure this by analysing the content on your webpages and also the quantity and quality of other websites linking to you.

Having an SEO strategy will maximise your potential to be found on the Internet. It would be a mistake to underestimate the value of this potential to grow your online presence and your business success. Integrating video into your SEO strategy will enable you to take advantage of the power of video in search engines.

Why integrate video in your SEO strategy?

One reason that you might want to use video in your strategy is as a way to improve and increase the reputation and profile of your brand. Video is best practice for any competitive business. If you are producing high quality video and distributing it effectively, you will be giving yourself the competitive advantage in terms of how customers perceive your brand.

Another great way that video can contribute to your strategy is through links. You can have people linking to your website where you are hosting your video, or you can enable viewers to embed your video’s on their own websites. Either way, if someone wants to link to you and they have a choice between linking to some text or linking to a high quality video, you will probably find that the video option is more popular.

Ranking is one of the main reasons why businesses use video in their SEO strategy. We are going to focus on ranking and give you some tips about how you can use video to boost your search engine results.

Ranking: boosting your search engine results

1> Location of your video:

Put your video on a webpage that is targeting a search term that is more likely to receive a video rich snippet. Look through search results and see what search terms are currently returning video results.

It is best to only have one video per webpage as it will make it easier to target particular search terms or keywords for that particular video. It will also help your video to be found if it is hosted on a page that includes lots of different media types e.g. images and text.

Key point: a snippet is the few lines of text that appear under every search result. A rich snippet is when these lines of text are enhanced with some form of additional media/data such as a video thumbnail, an image or a review.

2> Embedding:

Where you choose to embed your video should depend on the goals of each particular video. The platform you choose to upload to will affect your potential to appear in universal search results. ReelSEO reported on a presentation given by aimClear ( Their research revealed that it does matter which platform you choose to upload your videos to. YouTube for example completely dominates the universal Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) at Google with 84% of their total video results.

However, it could also be argued that keeping your content unique to your own website is best because Google will only have one option about where to find your video. The other obvious benefit of hosting your own videos is that viewers will be on your website and in a perfect position to turn that view into a conversion. There are paid hosting options which allow you to control where other people can embed your videos (e.g. VIMEO has a paid hosting option)

If you are particularly keen to use YouTube, be sure to do everything you can to enable viewers to link from your videos to your website. For example, LinkedTube has made it possible to place links to your own website or blog on your YouTube video. For example, you could have a clickable link on a video about your products that takes the customer straight to your shopping cart.

Key point: remember that your choice of distribution method should match up to the style and content of your video. For example, it would be pointless having a video ‘advert’ on your own website as visitors will be on your website because they already have an interest in your products – probably as a result of advertising. Now that you have the captive audience looking at your website, you should be looking at ways to use video to turn those visits into conversions.

3> Create a video sitemap:

Google can’t see what is contained in a video file. You therefore need to submit a video sitemap to Google so that they can make your video searchable in Google video. See the information video below for an explanation of Google sitemaps.

4> Keywords:

There are particular keywords that will be more likely to return rich snippets. Informational keywords are the key to appearing in universal SERPS. Informational keywords include instructional words like ‘tips’ or ‘how to’ and educational words like ‘the history of’. You should steer clear of ‘transactional keywords’ like ‘buy’, ‘free’ and ‘cheap’ because they don’t have the desired effect. Video content is not normally suitable for this type of commercial search (at least in terms of getting ranked in the SERPs); video content is more about the earlier stages in the conversion funnel.

If you are using YouTube as your distribution platform, and need some keyword help, you can try using their keyword tool.

Key point: once you know what keywords you are aiming to be searched for, you need to make sure you include them in your video title, description, transcript/subtitles, comments, and file name.

5> Headlines:

Carefully plan your video headlines to include target keywords as this will also make it easier for your video to be found. See this article on writing headlines for video marketing for more advice on writing headlines.

It is useful to take note of what search terms YouTube or Google suggest, even though this doesn’t tell you how many people are searching those terms:

Making pancakes has related searches

If you are hosting your own videos you can use an analytics tool, like Google Analytics, to tell you which keywords visitors are using in search engines to find your content. This information will be useful when planning which keywords to use for future videos.

It is still best practice to have your titles/headlines match the target search terms as closely as possible.

6> Subtitles:

Use closed caption subtitles in your video. YouTube support the insertion of these. As well as being good practice in terms of accessibility for people who can’t hear or see your video content, subtitles are great because they can be searched for, like other text, unlike the sound or image elements of your video files. Another option is to include a transcription of your video on the webpage where you are hosting the video.

This video was made by a deaf person to show fellow deaf people how closed captioning works.

Key point: subtitles and transcriptions are rich in keywords.

7> Textual descriptions:

Include a strong description of your video when posting to sites like Youtube or VIMEO. Again, these elements of text can be found in searches and will therefore help people find your videos more easily. This also applies if you choose to host your video on your own website.

8> Export your videos in HD:

Even if you recorded your footage in SD it is good practice to export in HD because HD videos tend to perform better in search engine results.


About the author:

Neil Davidson is the Founder of My Web Presenters, who are a leading Corporate Video Production specialist. They work with businesses of all sizes to create and market compelling and emotive video that helps them to communicate with their specific audience. They also write a Video Production Blog regularly so please check it out