Quick Guide: How to Boost Video SEO

September 4, 2020 BY JACLYN LEDUC
Updated: February 10, 2021

People want video content that’s unique and engaging yet easy to find amidst a sea of seemingly infinite content. The good news is, it is possible to improve your video content’s searchability by implementing elements that boost video search engine optimization (video SEO).

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There are a handful of key practices that help to boost video SEO:

By implementing these best practices, your videos will rise in search engine rankings, reach more people, and increase in viewership.


How to Create Accessible, SEO-Friendly Video Content

What is Video SEO?

Video SEO is the practice of boosting the quality and quantity of traffic to your video content by optimizing for organic search engine results.





Search engines can’t watch video content, so how do they crawl, index, and rank videos within search engine results pages?

Search engines will sort web content based on contextual elements found on-page and on the backend (within the metadata). Since videos are a type of visual media, optimizing video content for search engines requires a unique SEO approach.

How to Boost Video SEO

The formula to achieve better video SEO requires a few simple steps. Incorporating contextual elements such as captions and transcripts can amp up your video content’s search rankings. Implementing additional tactics such as optimizing metadata and providing a top-notch user experience will also add to video content’s searchability.

1. Add Transcripts

Person does a cooking tutorial video

Transcription converts the audio within videos into a non-time-coded, written document referred to as a transcript. Search engines cannot watch the contents of videos. However, transcripts help to boost video SEO by putting the video contents into a text format. When a transcript is used on-page or included off-page in the metadata, search engines can read the video’s contents to gain a complete understanding of the video.

Interactive transcripts are a time-based version of transcripts. As the video plays, the spoken words are highlighted within the interactive transcript allowing the viewer to follow along with the text. Interactive transcripts are an effective way to boost engagement and video SEO.

2. Incorporate Captions and Translations

Closed captions are a time-synchronized text file of the audio content. Captions display spoken dialogue, non-speech elements like sound effects or music, and speaker identification across the screen in text format as the video plays. Translations (often called subtitles) are similar to captions, yet they are converted into other languages.

Just like transcripts, captions and translations are contextual elements that allow search engine bots to read and index the content within the video. Since search engines index text, videos with captions and translations can rise in search rankings and reap an increase in viewership.

One study, which tested the impact of captions on video SEO, showed that:

  • Adding captions to YouTube videos increases views significantly.
  • Views for captioned videos increased by 7.32% overall.

3. Provide Top-Notch UX

When it comes to video SEO, an important best practice to follow is to prioritize people over bots. Search engines measure and prioritize ranking factors based on what people look for in their search experience, including ease of use and content clarity, quality, and credibility.

Person records a wilderness adventure video

Offering video elements such as transcripts, interactive transcripts, captions, and translation improves accessibility, interactivity, and the overall user experience. If your goal is to improve search rankings, it’s wise to include these elements whenever possible.

Just remember, accessibility, quality, and accuracy are crucial to good UX. Inaccurate transcripts and captions don’t meet Google’s standards for quality. In fact, they could get a video marked as “pure spam” for displaying “automatically generated gibberish,” which could seriously hurt your video’s search rankings. If you decide to utilize automatic speech recognition tools to create transcripts and captions, be sure to comb through the generated transcript, conduct a quality review, and edit any spelling and grammatical errors you come across.

4. Be Mindful of Metadata

Optimizing video content’s HTML elements (metadata), is a quick way to improve video SEO. There are several SEO standards to follow when building web pages with video content:

  • Displauy only one video per webpage.
  • Ensure the video is located near the top of the page.
  • Choose a keyword that relates directly to the video content.
  • Include that keyword in a descriptive page title using an H1 tag.
  • Use only one H1 tag; use H2 tags for secondary headings.
  • Ensure the metadescription is clear and concise (include the keyword).
  • Include the descriptive keyword in the page URL.
  • Write alt-text for any images, such as video thumbnails.
  • Limit other on-page elements, such as images and text paragraphs.

Putting attention towards your video’s metadata is a small effort that won’t go unnoticed by search engines. Take the time to plan out metadata for upcoming video pages, or quickly update older posts to boost their SEO.

SEO Embed

An SEO Embed uses linked data to communicate to bots that your web page hosts a video, and includes essential metadata like the video transcript. It can help boost SEO, drive more traffic to your videos, and help those who host videos on their website. With the SEO Embed, transcripts are posted to the head of the page, allowing it to remain “behind the scenes” and not disrupt the page’s visual flow. Additionally, the SEO Embed inadvertently increases page load speed since the transcript is published on the backend.

You now have the knowledge to go forward with a video SEO strategy that’s sure to make an impact on your content’s searchability and user experience. Remember – accessible videos equal more SEO-friendly videos, so be sure to follow our ten best practices for video accessibility.


Download the white paper: 10 Tips for Making Web Video Accessible.

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