Video SEO for beginners: 7 tips to improve your ranking

Get your videos ranking with our top tips for video SEO when you're a complete beginner. Read our blog today to find out more.

Picture of Lauren Nuttall Lauren Nuttall

Published: 11 Jun 2021

7 minutes read

Video SEO for beginners: 7 tips to improve your ranking

We all know that video is incredibly popular, and it’s generally accepted as an essential part of any B2B marketing strategy. Not only does video give your target audience a different, exciting way to engage with your content, but it can also significantly improve their understanding of your business or offering.

But for your video to be seen by your target audience, it needs to be optimised for search engines. In this beginners guide, we’ll talk you through video SEO basics - what it is, as well as tips and tricks to get your videos ranked by search engines.

Choose what you want to know:

Why do I need video SEO?

Our top 7 video SEO tips:

Choose the right platform
Research your keywords
Put your best video forward
Add a great thumbnail image
Transcribe your videos
Prevent overuse of your videos
Don’t just rely on SEO

Why do I need video SEO?

Video is one of the most versatile, powerful content formats you can use right now as part of your marketing strategy. 

Marketers love video because it’s exciting, can help them modernise their business, and gets great buy-in and even better ROI. Customers love video because it’s low-commitment and engaging, as well as being one of the easiest ways for them to digest information.

In fact, Forrester Research estimates that just 1 minute of online video equates to approximately 1.8 million written words in the message communicated - making video invaluable for marketers, who have as little as 10 seconds to grab a user’s attention. 

And the evidence speaks for itself. Studies show that 62% of Google universal searches include video - with 8 of 10 of the video results coming from YouTube. Additionally, Cisco predicts that by the end of 2021, over 80% of all traffic will consist of video. This indicates that not only are marketers doing more video, but more potential customers are also lapping it up. 

See more surprising video statistics for 2021 in our blog

If you have (or are planning to create) videos on your site, video SEO is one of the most essential strategies you need to implement. To increase your rankings, your video content must be optimised so it can both be read and indexed, as well as rank on search engines for your relevant keywords.

Here are our top 7 tips to improve your video SEO, and make sure your content is seen by the search engines.

1. Choose the right platform

Quite often, businesses will host their videos on third party sites such as YouTube, as it’s a cost-effective way to build brand awareness, without the hassle of having to embed videos on your website. But before you start publishing a tonne of content on YouTube, consider why you want to post a video in the first place.

If your main goal is to create brand awareness or present your business as a thought leader in your industry then third party sites like YouTube are a great way to do this. However, if your core focus is to generate more traffic or conversions, hosting your video on your own website is the best way to do this.

When hosting on your own site, you’ll get the backlinks that would have otherwise gone to a third party - meaning that every time someone shares your video, they’re sharing your website, too.

Whether you decide to post on YouTube or similar, or your own website, be sure that your video is set up for success, and that you’re getting the most out of it. If posting on YouTube, add a link to a relevant page on your site so that users are able to find you if they need to.

Want the full lowdown on SEO across your entire website? Check out our complete guide

2. Research your keywords

Keyword research is the cornerstone of any good marketing strategy, but it’s especially important when it comes to ranking with video. As with all other forms of content, you can’t just choose any random keyword and hope for the best. You need to do proper research.

Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, short or long-tail keywords might work best. If your video is answering a specific query, it may be best to choose a longer keyword; whereas if your video is more generic, short keywords may work better.

Unfortunately, most of the time what will work best for you will come out of trial and error - you’ll have to publish your video, and see what’s working and isn’t before you see real results.

For advice on how to conduct keyword research, read our beginner’s guide.

If you’re hosting video content on YouTube, try using YouTube Suggest to get ideas for keywords, by typing a term into the search bar. Take this example:

Screenshot 2021-05-19 at 15.14.20

Don’t underestimate the power of suggestions! This is YouTube telling you what people search for in exact terms. If people aren’t looking for it, chances are it’s not worth making a video about. 

3. Put your best video forward

Although video SEO may seem like unchartered territory, it actually works in a similar way to the more typical content you’re used to. Think of it this way, when you write a blog, you (hopefully) make sure that it’s your best work - it’s the same with video.

Since Google in particular will typically only index one video per link, it’s important to make sure that you embed the video you want to rank first within your page. While you can add as many videos to a page as you like, search engines will usually stop crawling after they see the first - so be sure you put your best forward.

Tip: Try and stick to one video on a page, if you can. If you have good videos, but they are hidden under more content, they will likely never be seen. It’s also a good idea to make any videos you have a core focus of the page so that users don’t have to go out of their way to find it, and neither do search engines.

4. Add a great thumbnail image

In this sense, search engines are a little bit shallow. They really care about your video thumbnail. Because the thumbnail is the first thing users will see when your video is indexed, it plays a huge part in whether or not people click through to your page.

This means it has to do a huge job for such a small role in your overall video. It needs to tell a story of what users can expect if they click, so it’s best to select a thumbnail image that best summarises the content of your video, or that best represents your business.

When creating thumbnails for YouTube (which is where most people post their videos), Google recommends that they:

  • Have a resolution of 1280 x 720 (with a minimum width of 640 pixels)
  • Are uploaded in the appropriate image formats (JPG, GIF, PNG)
  • Are under the 2MB limit
  • Use a 16:9 aspect ratio, as this is the most used in YouTube players/previews.

Whatever you do, don’t let your hosting platform select this image for you. Often, if you don’t manually select your thumbnail, it will be auto-selected - meaning it usually ends up being a random frame, or something completely unrecognisable to what your video is actually about. This will put both users and search engines off, so make sure you choose the best.

5. Transcribe your videos

Personally, I won’t ever watch a video if it doesn’t have captions. Usually, it’s because I’m somewhere I don’t want a random sound to suddenly blurt out of my phone. Chances are, I’m not alone.

Captions and transcriptions should always be given where there are voices speaking, or a voiceover within a video. These help your video retain its message even when users can’t use, or don’t want sound - such as when they're in a public place.

Providing a text equivalent to any visual content is not only a vital aspect of web accessibility, but it’s great for SEO, too. Particularly when hosting on your own website, transcriptions allow users to find your content more easily - as well as search engines. Transcriptions give you an additional opportunity to rank for your chosen keywords, and can increase your searchability.

Tip: If your video is particularly long, be sure to pay extra attention to your transcript. Add in headings, subheadings and bullet points to structure the content, and even add in additional keywords where appropriate. By doing this, you might just get multiple pieces of content out of a single video!

6. Prevent overuse of your videos

One of the most common mistakes businesses make is creating a great video, and posting it everywhere on their site. While it may seem like a good idea at first - after all, you spent time on the video, and it came out great - it can actually harm your rankings further down the line.

Think back to tip 3 - where appropriate, you want any video to be the core focus of the page. Search engines will then see the video, contextualise it against the entire page, and boost your rankings based on relevancy. 

This doesn’t happen when you then embed your video into other pages where the content doesn’t match up. By overusing the same video across your site, you’ll end up forcing your pages to compete against each other, which can negatively impact your ranking. 

If you’ve created a relevant, high-quality video that links well with the page you’re trying to get ranked, keep it there - don’t try and squeeze content into where it won’t fit.

7. Don’t just rely on SEO

It’s undisputed that SEO is an invaluable strategy to create lasting impact. But most of the time, businesses can’t rely on SEO alone to get the job done. 

Luckily, there are other ways you can get your videos watched by the people you want to notice them. Beyond embedding videos into web pages and blog posts, you can promote your videos through various methods, including:

Sharing your videos on social media

Another incredibly powerful tool, social media is one of the best ways to get any of your content noticed - but especially video. 93% of brands report that they have gained a new customer because of a video on social media, and it’s suggested that video ads, in particular, are the #1 way that customers discover a brand they will later make a purchase from. 

Beyond just YouTube, be sure to share your videos across the social media platforms relevant to your target audience - be it LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or even Pinterest. You’ll find that by sharing your videos in the right places, you’ll get short term results, while you wait for the long-term positive impact of SEO.

Sending videos to your mailing list

Debuting a new product or got a new company video to promote? Send it out in an email! Not only does this give those on your mailing list exclusive access to video content, it helps your video generate higher-quality views. 

You can even take this one step further, and segment your mailing list to those who will be interested in the video. For example, if certain customers are more likely to purchase your new product, use video as a way to upsell. If prospective customers are uncertain about a particular aspect of your service, use video to reassure them. The possibilities are endless.

What next?

With video fast becoming the most popular form of content online, you can’t afford NOT to capitalise on the SEO opportunities it gives you. 

Use the 7 tips above to ensure your videos are best placed to be seen by your target audience, and continue to optimise through trial and error. Video SEO is a long game, but it’s worth it. And why stop there?

Video optimisation is just one part of your wider SEO strategy, which involves ensuring that your entire website is best placed to rank on search engines. But knowing where to begin with SEO as a whole is quite frankly terrifying.

SEO isn’t something you’ll become a master at overnight - in fact, it’s quite the opposite. While it’s impossible to know everything you need to know about SEO, our free guide gets you started on the right track. 

2020 - 05 - Axon Garside - Ebook - SEO Guide


For actionable insight on how to optimise your website, best practices for search engines, and top tips on how to master your SEO strategy as a whole, download your free copy of our complete guide to SEO.