Video SEO For Self Hosted Videos

In the past video SEO has presented an interesting challenge for SEOs as it’s widely accepted that Google cannot completely see or understand the content contained within videos. However, the popularity of video with consumers, and the correlation with an increased conversion rate, indicates that it should not be omitted from a marketing campaign.

Luckily, there are several SEO basics and best practices you can use to optimize your video content for search, combining the appeal of video with the power of SEO to drive a high volume of targeted traffic to your site.

The SEO basics outlined below are for sites who are hosting their videos on their server and not using video search engines as the primary host of their videos

5 Benefits of Creating Videos For Your Business


  1. Helps capture additional real estate on the first page of Google
  2. The video creates an interactive experience with your potential customers
  3. It adds additional value by adding a transcript of the video
  4. It can help brand your small business as a leader in the field
  5. Creates an interaction point that has one of the highest “sharing” features on social media websites

SEO Basics: Tips for Video Optimization


Place Keywords in the Video Title, Description and Filename

When uploading your video make sure to include one or two targeted keywords in your video title and description. Most of the time this on-page content is written in HTML and is crawlable by Google; and in the case of YouTube, is actually used to populate the page’s Meta data (on YouTube the video’s title becomes the Page Title, the video description becomes the Page Description and the video tags are the Page Keywords).

This also means that many times the video’s title and description are displayed in the SERPs, and strategically placing keywords throughout both can influence CTRs to your video pages.

Include a Keyword-Optimized Transcript

While Google is becoming better at identifying objects and text within an image, for now Google is not able to understand or index content contained within a video. This means Google is not able to see any of the content within your video unless it is also placed within an HTML transcript on the page.

Since the Panda update, Google has been cracking down on pages with thin content. If your page has no additional content outside of your video that is visible to Google you are putting your site at risk for a penalty. Avoid other Google complications by ensuring the transcript you display on your page closely matches with the content in your video. If not Google may assume you’re trying to manipulate the search engines and devalue your site.

Optimize URLs and Folder Structure

If you have multiple videos on your site make sure to put each video on a separate URL, this way each video can correctly target it’s relevant keywords. Categorize similar videos to keep content organized. When possible, clean up each video’s URL. The URL “example.com/video/how-to-train your-dog” is much more pleasing to both the search engines, and users who (will see the URL in the SERPs) than the URL “example.com?=howtotrainyourdog&?v=vHEg78-Z9xQ”.

Housing your videos in a subfolder marked videos, or including the word video in the URL helps both the user and Google identify the content as video and find all other videos on site.

Earn Inbound Links To Your Videos

Sometimes you can never be too obvious! Targeting a link building campaign around the word video serves as another great indicator to the search engines that the content on your site is in video format. Making this content highly visible in the search engines will help attract consumers who would rather be presented with information in video form.

In some cases, including the word video into your keyword set can help you identify long-tail keywords based upon the harder to rank for head terms. Test variations of the word video with some of your head terms and see if you can identify “untapped” keyword combinations, which have a lower difficulty score but still have a decent search volume.

Create a Video XML Sitemap

Help Google index your video content by creating a video sitemap for your site. The compatible file types include .mpg, .mpeg, .mp4, .mov, .wmv, .asf, .avi, .ra, .ram, .rm, .flv, and you can include up to 50,000 URLs in one sitemap. The file must be no more than 10MB uncompressed and you can submit your sitemap through Google Webmaster Tools, or through your Robots.txt file.

Properly Canonicalize All Versions of the Video

For some sites it makes sense to offer the same video in several formats and sizes, each housed on a different URL. Some file types and player sizes load and perform better in different browsers and it can be beneficial for users to have options.

While this approach can be good for the users, Google will view each version of the original URL as duplicate content. If using this method on your site make sure to correctly implement the canonical tag on each URL to indicate to Google that it is not duplicate content, but a different version of an existing page and also to select a preferred URL to display in the SERPs and to apply linking metrics to.

If you don’t have the resources to host your videos on your server, it can be beneficial to put them on places such as YouTube and then embed the video in your webpage. As you may have figured out, there is a strategy for this as well. Learn more about the basics of optimizing your videos on YouTube and embedding them into your website at our blog post titled SEO Basics of Optimizing Videos For Youtube.

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