6 Best Practices to Fast Forward your Videos to the Top of the Search Results

Have you ever noticed how YouTube videos seem to dominate the first page of Google when you are searching? Unsurprising, as video already makes up a large part of all internet traffic, and is expected to grow to 80 percent of all traffic by 2019. Videos are only going to continue to grow in popularity and accessibility. It’s definitely not an area that can be cast aside and not thought of as part of your site’s SEO strategy.

Ever wonder how you can get your videos to rank in Google, just like all the ones that you are seeing in your daily searches? Here are a few tips that you can use on how to improve your video SEO and get your videos found.

1. Host your Videos on YouTube

Hosting your site’s videos on YouTube has numerous benefits. YouTube is the second-largest search engine on the internet after Google, so your content is very likely to be found there. By having the videos hosted with YouTube, you also won't run the risk of slowing down your site. Finally, being owned by Google, YouTube gets a huge preference from the search giant. A study by Wistia last year found that YouTube videos captured nearly 92% of video rich snippets in the Google SERPs.

Source : Wistia 

With over 1 billion users, hundreds of millions of hours of video (currently over 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute), and billions of views, uploading and marketing your site’s videos on YouTube can help your content gain visibility in both YouTube and Google Search.

A few things to consider to help with your videos rankings on both Google and YouTube would be:

  • Titles: Just like your site’s title tags, you should have a well-written and descriptive title for your videos with keywords that people would use to search for your video.
  • Video Description: Be sure to create a unique and lengthy description for your video. Add your site’s URL before the description, and follow that up by placing the most important keywords at the beginning of the description. Try to have at least 250 words for your description.
  • Tags: Including relevant, keyword-optimized tags is also a good way to help YouTube classify and rank your video.
  • Video playlists: Playlists are a great feature that let you organize your videos on your YouTube channel into groups based on the topics of your choice. By doing this, your videos are more likely to drive traffic between one another due to both YouTube’s search algorithm and usability.
  • Annotations: These are a way for you to make your YouTube videos more interactive, by adding commentary and calls-to-action to your videos.
  • Sharing: YouTube’s algorithm puts a lot of weight on engagement, such as views, click-through rate, comments, thumbs up/down ratio, social shares etc. It’s important to make sure your YouTube video gets seen by sharing it with communities that will be interested. Try sharing your video with online groups or forums who will find it useful.
  • Call-to-Action: One of the most convincing engagement signals for YouTube is having people subscribe to your channel after watching your video. Be sure to put a call-to-action at the end of your video asking people to subscribe.

2. Host your Videos Onsite

While hosting your video on YouTube has many benefits, there are still benefits to hosting certain types of videos onsite. You will keep traffic within your brand ecosystem rather than losing pageviews to YouTube. You also won’t run the risk of having a competitor’s ad show up on your video, or having their videos show up as “related”. With self-hosted videos, video embeds will pass “link juice” to your domain, not youtube.com. Therefore, they can contribute to your website’s overall SEO, although they are unlikely to get a rich snippet. 

So when should you host videos onsite? A good example of a video that should be hosted onsite is a short product tutorial. This kind of video would make the most sense within the context of the product page on your site, where it can drive conversions from visitors who are already at the bottom of the funnel. Viewers who stumble upon your video randomly on YouTube, with no context, are probably not going to be interested. 

If you choose to host videos onsite, you should consider using a third-party secure hosting platform such as Wistia or Vzaar. This will help you save bandwidth, serve videos to users on any device or browser, and take advantage of analytics capabilities more in-depth than what YouTube offers. It will also allow others to embed your video, so you can take full advantage of links and social sharing.

3. Have an Optimized Video Sitemap

Similar to having a XML sitemap for your site pages, it’s just as important to create a video sitemap for all your videos to allow search engines crawl and index the content of your videos. Metadata in a video sitemap can be customized to include rating, duration, age appropriateness, view count, whether the video can be embedded or not, as well as other useful information. 

Be sure to include the following information in your video sitemap: title, description, playpage URL, thumbnail URL and the raw video URL or URL to Flash video player. Without this information, Google cannot surface your videos in its results.  

4. Transcript your Videos

Videos, like all rich media on your site, should be accompanied by at least 300 words of text content. If you don’t have 300 words of text on your page, consider creating a transcript for your video. Remember that Google’s crawler reads only text – by adding a transcript, you are giving the Google crawler access to the contents of your video and any relevant keywords. This will also help improve user experience for those who are hearing-impaired or have their audio turned off.

5. Stimulate Social Signals / Links Generation

Social media plays an important part in getting your videos found. Getting people to like, share and view your video will give a positive signal to the search engines and help show the value of your content. This will help drive traffic back to your site.

When used correctly, videos really can provide a huge boost to your SEO campaign. Take the DollarShaveClub for example:

The branding video that Dollar Shave Club created back in 2012 when anybody hardly knew who they were is a great example of how a great video can help boost your sites SEO campaign. Just a few short hours after the launch of the video,  the video was picked up by all major news sites and they began writing articles that featured the newly created video. As a result, all these news sites linked out to Dollar Shave Club from the articles they had written, earning them thousands of quality links. To this date, the video has over 20 million views and their YouTube channel has over 2 million shares and 500K likes.

6. Optimize Video Load Time

It’s no surprise that a slow page load time that affects user experience will also play a role in SEO. Every second counts when it comes to page abandonment; the slower the page response time is, the more likely the user will be to leave the site rather than waiting for your content. As mentioned before, the best ways of optimizing load time are either hosting with YouTube or choosing a third-party secure video hosting platform. Hosting videos on your own server should be avoided. 


The popularity of online videos will only continue to grow, and it presents a huge opportunity for SEO. Remember to produce quality content, as quality is just as important when it comes to video as it is with any other form of content.

Michael McManus, Earned Media Team Lead at iProspect, also contributed to the article.

This article was originally written by Dalia Goldberg.