Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a vital aspect of online content, including video. Adding SEO to your videos helps increase their visibility in search engines (like Google and YouTube), attract more viewers, and ultimately drive more traffic to your website. It's an added step to video creation that isn't the most fun or creative, but it's essential if you want your content to perform well. Some even like to say that properly implementing SEO is an "art" as much as a science, which I don't disagree with.
So if you aren't adding SEO value to your videos yet, you're missing out on added visibility of your content. Here are some basic and advanced tips to get started with optimizing your videos for SEO.
BASIC SEO METHODS
Create Engaging Titles
Titles are the first thing viewers see when they come across your video on search engines, social media, or other platforms. A compelling title can make the difference between someone clicking on your video or scrolling right past it. Would you be more intrigued with the title "Learn SEO", or "Supercharge Your SEO In Three Simple Steps"? Maybe that example is a little much, but it shows how tweaking your title can attract the specific audience that you are targeting. And the second title example just sounds like it has more potential to be interesting to watch or read. So keep your title concise, descriptive, and intriguing, using target keywords when possible, and you'll already be gaining an advantage.
Optimize Your Video Description
The video description is an excellent opportunity to provide additional information about your content and target more keywords. Google scans the description, so this is a good area to pump in more keywords to help rank better. Use a concise and compelling description that summarizes your video's content, includes relevant keywords, and links to your website or other relevant content. And here's another tip: Use ChatGPT to help you craft a base. Type in something like "Create video description for (INSERT SPECIFIC VIDEO TOPIC) in a friendly tone". 95% of the time, it will produce a very usable description, to which you can tweak certain aspects to make it sound more like your voice and brand, as well as sprinkle in your keywords.
Adding captions to your videos is a stellar way to improve your video's accessibility and SEO. First and foremost, it makes sure anyone with hearing disabilities has the means to enable captions to read the video while watching. Secondly, Google can tell that you added captions and will prioritize your videos over content without them. It's a no-brainer to include captions so your content is more easily discoverable by search engines and enables more viewers to engage with your video. Here are three ways that you can add captions:
• YouTube - YouTube automatically creates captions for your videos, but sometimes they don't turn out perfectly. If you upload to YouTube, you can go through the captions in the backend and scrub through to correct anything that may be off. It's worth the little extra time to do this.
• Adobe Premiere Pro - This is my preferred method of creating captions if you have access to the software. There are now built-in tools in Premiere that create very accurate captions. It still isn’t 100% accurate, so like YouTube, be sure to go back through and correct any errors.
• REV - This is a website where you submit your video and they have a team of humans that type your captions for you. It of course comes at a cost, but if you have the budget to spare and want a perfect .SRT caption file, then this is a great way to go.
Optimize Video File Names and Sizes
When uploading your video file to hosting platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, or any social site, make sure to use a descriptive filename that includes your target keywords. This can improve your video's ranking on both hosting platforms and search engines. So for example, instead of uploading a file name like JOHNS SEO TIPS VIDEO V3 FINAL, try being more descriptive and uploading it as JHMOTION_VIDEO_SEARCH_ENGINE_OPTIMIZATION_SEO_BLOG_VIDEO.
Secondly, do your best to compress the sizes of your video and image files to as small as you can make them. Google also calculates page load speed as a benefit to SEO, so the smaller your uploaded file sizes, the faster your pages will load.
ADVANCED SEO METHODS
Conduct Keyword Research
Keyword research is an amazing way to REALLY control your SEO. The reason I have this under the advanced section is mainly because it can be information overload if you don't know what you are looking at, and because there is a financial cost to do it properly. There are some free tools, but they are usually limiting, or just straight up don't work well. A quick breakdown of how to utilize keyword research can go like this: You identify the relevant keywords that your target audience uses to find similar content. You can check the difficulty of the keyword compared to how many other people are trying to rank for it, and the estimated cost of the PPC (pay-per-click).
So for example, if you are trying to use a broad keyword like “Cleveland video production company”, you will have a lot of competition since all the video companies in Cleveland are using the same keywords to show up higher in results. Using research tools, you can figure out what other words are similar and maybe not as difficult to use, and you can try to utilize those with your strategy. Maybe try adding more niche keywords like “3D animation” or “music video”, and there will most likely be less competition with those keywords, and help you rank higher in search results.
To sum up, as the name says, you are doing research on the keywords that you think will work for your video and brand, while comparing them to other keywords and brands already trying to dominate the space. Some tools you can are Google Keyword Planner (free), Moz (affordable), or SEMrush ($$$) to identify high-volume and low-competition keywords related to your video topic. Incorporating keywords into your video's title, description, and tags can help search engines understand your content and rank it higher.
Promotion of Your Videos (Both Free and Paid)
Promoting your video on various channels can increase its visibility, engagement, and ultimately, traffic to your website. Share your video on social media, embed it in blog posts, and email it to your subscribers. You can even use Paid Media for your content strategy. This will guarantee that your video gets watched because it means that you are putting money behind your video to get it in front of more eyes. You probably see paid media daily while scrolling through Instagram and TikTok (did you know that every 3-5 posts on Instagram are paid sponsor posts?), along with platforms like sponsored YouTube videos, as well as ads on streaming services.
To execute this type of strategy, you contribute a set amount of money to a video, and the chosen paid media platform will help boost the video either to the amount of what you paid, or you can set it to the number of people you want to reach. The more variables you change, such as demographics, keywords, and video lengths, the more it will potentially cost. It is a little bit of a game, which goes back to me saying that SEO is equally as much an art as it is a science.
A quick example to explain the process would be to pretend you are a landscape company. Your company just made an awareness video showing its capabilities, and you want to create a seasonal springtime campaign around it in time for when the grass starts growing again. You would post the video to YouTube, then create a YouTube Advertising campaign around it, to which you select the general geographic location you are trying to target (Northeast Ohio), the keywords (landscaping ideas, lawn services, lawn mower reviews), and then put a set amount of money to that video. And then YouTube's job is to push that video in front of the viewers that are looking up those video topics and other similar keywords. You need to have a decent budget to pull strategies like this off, but it can turn your product or service into an easy sell if your video ads are being targeted at viewers that you know for a fact are already interested.
Video Content SEO Conclusion
Optimizing your video for SEO requires a strategy that considers engaging titles, descriptions, transcripts, and file names, as well as more complex strategies like keyword research and paid promotion. Incorporating these best practices can help increase your video's visibility, attract more viewers, and ultimately drive more traffic to your website. Don't sleep on these tactics, you're future self and video library will regret it!
If you want to connect, here are my social handles:
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