Video SEO. It may sound scary but in reality there’s a few simple things you can do to make sure your videos appear in the search results and drive traffic to your site.

We asked SEO experts Will Critchlow and Phil Nottingham from Distilled for their top tips.

Find out:

– What are the main things you can do to improve your video SEO?
– What is a video sitemap?
– How can you improve click through rates of video search results?
– How can video be used to improve natural link building?
– What are the main things that can harm your video SEO?
– Are YouTube videos given preference in the search results?

Hayley: If you want to drive a lot of traffic to your videos it’s a good idea to think about your video SEO. So we asked the guys from Distilled to give us a few pointers.

Will: Hi, I’m Will Critchlow, one of the founders of Distilled.

Phil: And I’m Phil Nottingham a consultant here in Distilled London.

Hayley: What are the main things you can do to improve your video SEO?

Will: So we’re talking here about getting pages from your own website into Google search results with a video alongside it. And in order to do that, firstly you’re going to have to have the video embedded on the page. And you’re going to have to provide some meta-information to Google.

Phil: Basically two ways that you can provide that information to Google, or to another search engine in order to get those results, and that’s either through a video site map, or through using schema.

Hayley: And can you just clarify what a video site map is?

Phil: A video site map is essentially an XML file that’s going to show Google, or another search engine some information about the videos on your site. So there’ll be a little tag that says URL, and that’s going to indicate a specific page on your website, and under that you’re going to have a video tag, and within that video tag you can include all these different pieces of information about your video. So what the title is, where the thumbnail for the video lives, where the actual video file is, and all that kind of thing. You’re going to get a really nice bold, pleasant picture in the Google search results which is going to be much more clickable than just your standard result.

Will: Include that site map in the robots.txt file on your own website as a site map link so that a search engine can find it.

Hayley: Are there any things you can do to improve the click through rate once your videos are appearing in the search results?

Will: Step one is going to be probably ranking for the right things, so using the right words, and phrases. Using the words, and phrases that people are going to be searching for that would likely find your page. You want to use them on the page itself, and in the meta-information about the video.

Phil: And then there’s a few things you can do just to improve the appearance of your specific result. Number one is the kind of video thumbnail itself. Think about something that’s going to be very enticing. Typically stuff with somebody’s head, if it looks nice bright colors is going to be more attractive than just something grey, or nonspecific.

If you can have somebody looking like an action pose, or smile rather than somebody else looking grumpy and kind of bored, or whatever. So when you’re doing your video site map, you need to think about optimizing the title, and the description for clicks. So think about a title that’s going to be very relevant.

As Will said kind of using those specific terms, but also make it very interesting, and think almost like kind of a PR, and advertiser, what’s going to be the kind of thing that’s going to generate clicks, and make people want to look at your website? And then the description itself should be informational, demonstrate something that’s going to be good about the page. So give a reason for people to click on that.

Hayley: What advice would you give to somebody looking to build natural links to the video?

Will: That largely comes down to people outside of your website linking to your website. In terms of actually the value of the link, my actual favorite metric is do people click on it? Does the link send visitors to your website? Ideally visitors that do what you want? Do they come, and do they watch your video? Those are the videos that I would value most highly.

In order to get those, you’re obviously going to need to target getting links from places that lots of people go, that are closely aligned with your subject matter, and who in the case of video particularly are the kind of people who are prone to watch an online video.

So doing a little bit of outreach, getting your video famous, getting some feedback – that kind of thing is all going to be the stuff that’s going to help your video rank better.

Hayley: And is there anything you can do which will have a negative impact on your SEO?

Will: The overarching things that can hurt you are generally when you’re trying to trick Google. And so any way you try to get links through manipulation, if you’re trying to hide information from Google, or put information on the page only for Google that you hide from regular users. Those kinds of things that are going to hurt you most.

Phil: And there’s a few things on the video side specifically that you should be careful about. So firstly Google, and Bing as well look very unfavorably on site maps that are either seem manipulative, or just not correct. So really you need to be careful about making sure that the site map is always up to date, it’s always got the correct information, and you’re providing the right thumbnails, and all the titles in the descriptions are correct.

The kind of second thing is cannibalization, so there’s a few ways which you can kind of cannibalize your rankings with videos. One is having all the same data for all of your videos in your site map. So if all your videos are called like video one, video two, video three, and all the descriptions are like enter description here, or something very generic, it becomes a case of you’re not giving enough specific information to the search engines for them to differentiate between your content.

So you need to think about kind of cannibalization from that perspective. And the second one is kind of not having multiple pages totting the same thing across all platforms that you’re working on. So one thing that can be problematic is having a video on YouTube for example, and on a platform like vzaar, because your trying to sort of compete for the same terms with two different pages.

So really the kind of best approach is to think very targeted and specific, and say ” OK, where do I want this video to live? Who do I want to be there?” And then really having that one strong page that’s going to be very clear, showing the search engine signals that suggest that suggests that’s the one that should rank for those keywords.

Hayley: Are YouTube videos given preference in the search results?

Phil: So YouTube is obviously the biggest video platform on earth it’s a Google property, so YouTube videos will typically get indexed in the Google search results very, very quickly. But that doesn’t mean they inherently have preference, and rather than thinking is it going to rank better if I put it on YouTube, or I put it on my own site, you should really think about the users themselves, and work out what do you want the users to do?

If it’s the kind of video that’s there to maybe improve your brand, or drive awareness it might be okay for them to go to YouTube, and view the video there. But really if your video’s more tied to a specific action, like a product video that’s going to help people purchase things on a page, then really putting it on YouTube is probably not the best option. So really the question is do you want users on your site, or do you want them on YouTube?

Hayley: So I hoped that’s helped with your video SEO. Thanks the guys from Distilled, and thanks for watching.

Additional Resources:

Video SEO: The Secret Behind 136% Organic Visitor Growth

Video Sitemaps: vzaar Devs Explain

How To Create A Video Sitemap

Video SEO Help Document

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