Video SEO Best Practices: 10 Strategies To Increase Video Views

13 min read
SEO/Content Marketing
By: Lars Arboleda

If you want your marketing efforts to produce tangible results, one of your best options is publishing videos.

Most marketers will back that statement, at least according to a 2023 survey by Wyzowl.

Here are the survey’s most telling results about video marketing:

  • 95% of marketers said it helped increase brand awareness.
  • 90% acknowledged its role in generating leads.
  • 87% said it was effective at boosting sales.

However, you can only enjoy these benefits if the right viewers are seeing your videos.

This is where video search engine optimization (SEO) can help.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll demystify video SEO and explain why it’s essential to your content marketing efforts.

We’ll also share 10 video SEO best practices to give your content the best chance of ranking high in video search results.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Video SEO 101

Video SEO is the practice of optimizing video content so users can easily discover it when they use a search engine, especially on platforms like Google and YouTube.

The goal of video SEO is simple: Improve your videos’ rank in search engine results and, ultimately, drive more qualified organic traffic to your website. And that, in turn, can boost your return on investment (ROI).

Using keywords to optimize content is a foundational aspect of any SEO strategy. You know the drill: Incorporate keywords into your written content, and search engines will associate it for relevant queries — as long as the content satisfies ranking algorithms’ quality checks.

But video SEO is built a bit differently. For starters, search engine bots can’t understand video content the way humans do.

A GIF of a robot expressing dismay over not understanding something.

So, how do you help crawlers understand your video?

That’s where metadata comes in.

Video metadata is the descriptive information associated with a video file. By incorporating relevant keywords, you give search engines (and users) the context they need to understand what it’s about.

We’ll delve deeper into how to incorporate keywords into metadata later. For now, know that by adding relevant keywords, you can align your video content with what your target users are searching for.

What’s more, the right keywords help you target users who are genuinely interested in your video’s subject matter. When people are interested, they’re more likely to engage with your content.

By watching, liking, commenting on, and sharing the video, users may send signals to search engines that the content is valuable and relevant to them. So, if your video content strikes a chord with users, entertains them, or bowls them over with immense utility, that may play a role in how search engines will know.

This gives you an additional boost in search engine results pages (SERPs). After all, search algorithms interpret strong engagement metrics as indicators of quality content.

Why a Video SEO Strategy Is Important

A well-informed video SEO strategy will help ensure your videos are visible in the search results.

Here’s a closer look at the benefits of optimizing your videos for search engines:

Why a video SEO strategy is important.

Increased Online Visibility

By optimizing your videos for search, you’re boosting the chances of your target audience discovering your brand. After all, Google is the most visited website in the world, with YouTube ranking second. Their rankings may switch up periodically, but they both consistently occupy the top two spots.

With a solid video SEO strategy, you play by the algorithms’ rules and give your videos a better shot at ranking higher in SERPs, where more people will see them.

Improved User Experience

Video SEO is not only about incorporating the right keywords to increase relevance and leverage search intent. Your videos should also provide an amazing user experience (UX).

UX is the overall quality of interaction that individuals have with a product, service, or media. If a piece of video content is engaging and effectively conveys its message, it likely has a great UX.

You can quantitatively measure the UX of your video content with engagement metrics like:

  • Dwell time
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Click-through rate (CTR)

But why do engagement metrics matter in video SEO?

Because search engines are more likely to rank helpful and engaging videos higher in relevant results.

Optimizing your videos for search intent kick starts the process by making sure the right users find your content. But if you want search engines to prioritize your video content, you have to make it engaging, helpful, and useful to those users.

Optimizing your videos for search intent kick starts the process by making sure the right users find your content. But if you want search engines to prioritize your video content, you have to make it engaging, helpful, and useful to those users. 

When Google rolled out its helpful content update, the search engine made it clear it’s rewarding websites that “focus first on creating satisfying content.”

On a related note, if you want to create video content that satisfies Google’s criteria for “helpful content,” focusing on engagement metrics — and, by extension, UX — is a step in the right direction.

Of course, video engagement is only one part of the equation. Google also emphasizes trust — trustworthiness is the “T” in the E-E-A-T search rater guidelines.

Relevant search results keep search engines in business. It’s for this very reason that Google makes regular algorithm updates. So, if you’re going to optimize for the most recent updates, publishing videos that delight your users is a great idea.

Want more info on the helpful content update? Check out this video to explore how The Blogsmith updated our clients on the Google algorithm updates that happened in fall 2022.

Increased Reach Across Multiple Channels

When your video content appears prominently in search results, you can indirectly boost your brand’s reach across multiple channels.

People love watching videos on social media. According to Sprout Social’s 2023 Content Benchmarks Report, two-thirds of consumers find short-form videos to be the most engaging type of in-feed social content.

Short-form video is the most engaging type of in-feed content on social media.

And given the prominence of social sharing tools, a compelling, optimized video has the chance to spread far and wide across different platforms.

Higher Conversions

If done well, video SEO can help you generate more conversions.

It all comes down to using a video SEO strategy that leverages search intent well. If you attract the right audience and then deliver content that entertains and resonates with them, you’re giving them a good reason to convert.

HubSpot is one great example of a brand that’s nailed its video SEO strategy.

The customer relationship management (CRM) software provider targets small and medium-sized businesses that need an effective inbound marketing strategy to boost ROI. These viewers are looking for easy-to-use tools that can help them generate more traffic, shorten sales cycles, and convert more customers.

HubSpot knew what to do: The brand published a series of YouTube videos — ranging from how to make better videos to how to write business proposals — to give target viewers the comprehensive guidance they need.

With a YouTube channel boasting over 720 videos (and over 350,000 subscribers) under its belt, HubSpot maintains a solid reputation as the go-to inbound marketing solution for many business owners.

Is YouTube SEO the Same As Google SEO?

Keep in mind that YouTube is a search engine as much as it’s a video-sharing website. After all, users also use YouTube to find answers to some of their pressing questions, like “How to tie a tie?” and “What is ChatGPT?”

Besides, YouTube videos are often indexed in Google’s SERPs. Google bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion — so no surprise there.

The hosts of popular cooking YouTube channel Bon Appétit know that people crave “cooking advice that works.” They addressed that need by creating videos like “Every Way to Cook an Egg (59 Methods)” (38 million views) and “How To Butcher An Entire Cow: Every Cut Of Meat Explained” (14 million views).

A YouTube video on how to cook eggs went viral among cooking enthusiasts.

Video optimization goes beyond traditional search engines. By following the video SEO best practices we cover below, you can boost your visibility not only on YouTube and Google but also across platforms like TikTok, Vimeo, and Twitch.

10 Video SEO Best Practices

  • Conduct keyword research.
  • Optimize your video metadata.
  • Create compelling and high-quality thumbnail images.
  • Create captivating introductions.
  • Transcribe videos and add descriptions.
  • Add timestamps to your YouTube videos.
  • Add videos to your blog posts.
  • Repurpose Your Video Content
  • Add a powerful call to action (CTA).
  • Promote videos on social media.

Conduct Keyword Research

Essentially, the goal of keyword research is to determine which terms and phrases your target users are more likely to enter when they look for videos.

To get that part right, you need to understand your target audience.

You can get to know your audience better by:

  • Conducting in-person interviews.
  • Creating surveys.
  • Engaging in communities (both offline and online) where they hang out.
  • Interacting with your audience on social media

Once you have enough customer data, brainstorm keywords your target users are more likely to use when seeking answers and solutions on the web as they go through your sales funnel stages.

If you need more context to inform your keyword research, these tools can be a tremendous help:

As an example, let’s use the Semrush tool for the keyword “how to improve UX.”

The report includes a comprehensive list of keyword suggestions and granular data on search volume, trends, and competition level — pretty much what you need to optimize your video content for search visibility.

Make sure you’re optimizing your videos for the right channel. For example, if you want your video content to rank highly in YouTube searches, use a YouTube keyword tool.

There are many things that could go wrong with your keyword research, however, so it pays to use a data-driven approach.

The Blogsmith offers an advanced keyword research service for this very reason. By digging deep into target audiences and using customer data to nail search intent, we determine which keywords to use in every stage of the sales funnel.

Once you’ve identified which keywords to use, incorporate them in places where they can be found by search engine spiders, which brings us to our next section.

Optimize Your Video Metadata

Types of video metadata.

It’s not enough to optimize your video titles and descriptions and call it a day. There are other video metadata elements that demand your attention.

Here’s a comprehensive list of video metadata elements you can optimize to get the best possible results:

  • Video Description: This is where you write what your video is about and what viewers can expect.
  • Video Title: This detail is the first thing potential viewers see when they stumble on your video content. When possible, place relevant keywords at the front of the title.
  • Video File Name: Put your keywords in the file name so search engines may associate it with relevant queries.
  • Video Tags: What are the core themes and topics in your video? If you’re posting a video on YouTube, include these tags to help crawlers categorize your video content more accurately. Since video tags are essentially keyword phrases you want to rank for, use a YouTube keyword tool like Ahrefs or TubeBuddy to find relevant and popular keywords to use as tags.
  • Transcription: Adding transcription to your video content brings context and clarity to your message, which, in turn, improves its searchability and accessibility.

Create Compelling and High-Quality Thumbnail Images

Video thumbnails are images that serve as a preview of your content.

And like any preview, a video thumbnail image has to be compelling enough to make people click on it. After all, a high CTR improves your rankings and helps drive even more potential viewers toward your videos.

If you doubt that for a moment, check out how YouTuber MrBeast got millions of views per video by optimizing his thumbnails:

To create thumbnails your target users can’t resist clicking, follow these tips:

  • Create thumbnails that are visually appealing. Go for images that will grab your target audience’s attention.
  • Make them relevant. When you make the preview image relevant to your audience, the clicks will come.
  • Incorporate text, clip art, or the background. These elements add context, which arouses curiosity and draws clicks.
  • Stay on-brand. Consistent experiences make your brand more memorable. Take The Blogsmith as an example. Our SEO agency’s video thumbnails consistently feature our founder, Maddy Osman, against a graffiti-style brick wall. The visuals match our street art vibe, creating a visual consistency that makes The Blogsmith brand easy to recognize and remember.

Consider hiring a professional graphic designer to make your video thumbnails pop. Don’t have the budget to hire one? There are many free and low-cost tools you can use, like FotoJet, Canva, and Adobe Express.

Create Captivating Introductions

Once a user has clicked on your video, you have a limited amount of time to make them decide to keep watching. In fact, a Databox survey says that 1-2 minutes of watch time on YouTube is considered “good.”

If you want viewers to stay glued to their screens, make those first few seconds count with a captivating introduction.

Here are tactics you can employ to create introductions that keep viewers watching:

  • Start with a hook. Begin with a thought-provoking question, a surprising fact, or an anecdote that will make them stand up and take notice (e.g., “Did you know that humans blink about 15-20 times a minute?”).
  • Pose a challenge. Touch on a pain point your target viewers can relate to (e.g., “Struggling to stay focused at work?”).
  • Give a sneak peek. Give a taste of what viewers will witness if they keep watching (e.g., “In the next few minutes, you’ll gain a whole new perspective on how to manage your finances.”).
  • Create a curiosity gap. Tease a solution or revelation without giving away all the details (e.g., “Ever wonder how a simple household item can revolutionize your cooking?”).

Transcribe Videos and Add Captions

Transcription is a process that involves converting a video’s audio into text. And offering captions with your videos is a great way to make them accessible to users who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

Accessibility is a good thing. After all, any opportunity to expand your reach gives you more chances to earn backlinks, get social shares, and establish brand authority — which are all good for your video SEO.

Video transcription also boosts engagement and enhances UX by making it easier for viewers to follow along and grasp key points.

This is even truer among young viewers. In fact, 70% of Gen Z’ers regularly use subtitles. Given their knack for consuming content in noisy public spaces (with mobile devices always within reach), this isn’t surprising.

Here are several methods to transcribe your videos:

And don’t forget to use quality recording tools and limit background noise to ensure the accuracy of your transcriptions.

Add Timestamps to Your YouTube Videos

Usually, YouTube users watch videos for a specific reason. If they can’t find what they’re looking for at a glance, chances are, they’re going to navigate away.

By adding timestamps (or video chapters) to your YouTube videos, you’re providing them with the signposts they need to skip to the part they want to watch.

Besides, adding further context on what to expect might compel users to keep watching. This, in turn, can boost watch time and engagement metrics — another win for your video SEO efforts.

Granted, adding timestamps to YouTube videos is as fun as watching grass grow. Thankfully, YouTube uses machine learning technology to give users the option to add timestamps or video chapters automatically.

This six-minute video by Bardeen shows you how to use this feature:

Add Videos to Your Blog Posts

As a marketing asset, blog posts remain as strong as ever. According to a 2022 survey by Orbit Media, 80% of bloggers report that publishing posts delivers results.

Orbit Media study shows many bloggers see results.

That said, there’s always room for improvement. By adding videos to your posts, you can make an even bigger impact. In fact, a Wistia study shows the time on page is 1.4x longer on pages with video content than those without it.

This is the same strategy The Blogsmith used for our blog post on Google’s helpful content update. By embedding a YouTube video that gives an in-depth overview of the 2022 update, we gave users another good reason to stay on the page.

And now? That same blog post ranks second in Google Search results for the keyword “Google’s helpful content update.”

A screenshot of Google Search results showing The Blogsmith’s blog post ranked at number two for “Google’s helpful content update.”

When adding videos to your blog posts, use the following approaches:

  • Dedicated Video Posts: Craft individual blog posts around specific videos. This enables you to cater to diverse learning styles while extending on-page time.
  • Video Series and Blogs: Create a thematic video series accompanied by blog posts that delve deeper into the topic.
  • Transcriptions and Summaries: Publish the video’s summary or transcribed text as a blog and then embed the video. This accommodates people who prefer videos over text and vice versa.

Repurpose Your Video Content

The wonderful thing about great content is that you can squeeze more value out of it.

One effective way to “milk” all the effort you’ve put into creating videos is to repurpose the heck out of them.

As a refresher, repurposing content is the practice of repackaging existing content into different formats or platforms, so you can communicate your message in a new way.

Repurposing video content helps you amplify your reach and make your message stick.

It also bolsters your SEO efforts by:

  • Creating new backlink
  • Generating fresh possibilities for targeting other relevant keywords.
  • Increasing brand recall (compelling users to enter your company name into search engines — which means more SEO brownie points).

There are a ton of ways to repurpose your video content, but here are some examples:

  • Create a blog post out of your videos.
  • Turn the audio file into a podcast.
  • Repackage videos into Instagram Reels.
  • Convert videos into high-quality
  • Transform videos into ads.

Add a Powerful Call to Action (CTA)

When you’re adding a CTA to your video, you’re not just inviting viewers to visit your website, purchase a product, or subscribe to your YouTube channel. You’re also inviting them to keep engaging with your brand.

When a viewer takes that next step in their relationship with your brand, this signals to search engines that your video is relevant and valuable to users.

Promote Videos on Social Media

As mentioned earlier, short-form videos are the most engaging type of in-feed social content. And it looks like many social media marketers are cashing in.

According to HubSpot’s 2023 Social Media Marketing Report, marketers are planning to invest more in short video content than in any other format.

There’s no question that promoting video content is an effective way to boost your reach and referral traffic to your website.

However, for your video marketing strategy to bear fruit, you must pick platforms that align with your goals, target audience, and content.

If your videos cater to a younger demographic, Instagram and TikTok may be more suitable. If your content is informative and professional, LinkedIn or YouTube might be a better choice.

Final Thoughts: Video SEO Best Practices — Optimize Your Videos for Search

There are a lot of factors that go into successfully implementing a video SEO strategy. For your videos to be visible in a crowded digital landscape, optimize them for robots and humans alike.

By implementing video SEO best practices and consistently refining your approach, you’re not just giving your videos the best chance of being discovered. You’re also creating a lasting impact on viewers. And that is video SEO’s ultimate reward.

If you need help optimizing your video content for search engines, don’t hesitate to get in touch with The Blogsmith.

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