We recently hosted a webinar on Track SEO for Video, presented by Matt Bailey, Digital Marketing faculty member at Simplilearn.  Matt Bailey is the founder and president of SiteLogic Marketing. He's also the Digital Marketing Instructor for the Direct Marketing Association in New York City and an instructor for the OMCP (Online Marketing Certified Professional) Program.  Matt is the author of "Internet Marketing: An Hour A Day," "Wired To Be Wowed," and "Teach An Old Dog New Tricks."

In this SEO for video webinar, Matt discussed what factors make your video stand out in YouTube searches and recommendations.  He then went into actions you can take to improve the number of views and clicks your videos generate. 

SEO for Video: Similarities and Differences with SEO for Websites

YouTube's got over a billion users.  It makes up about a third of the Internet, so it's a fantastic opportunity to reach many different people in many different languages across the world. It's vital to employ search engine optimization techniques for video.

Here's why search engine optimization for video is very similar to SEO for websites.  First, it is still dependent upon keywords, just like optimizing your website.  The more you understand keywords, what people are searching for, and the content they want to see, the better you'll be able to employ that in your video.

That goes into your content planning.  If you know what people want to see, it'll help you develop content for them and to optimize your existing content.

Second, you use popularity metrics to optimize your videos.  Just as you utilize metrics and analytics to optimize your pages based on the feedback of who's clicking, what they see, and what they do, similarly you use those tools to measure your video's audience and their behaviour.

Third, when we look at the snippet of information in a Google search result for a web page, there's a title, a headline, the URL, and a little description of the page.  For a video search result, there's an image: that one difference changes everything.

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Keywords are a Key to Improve SEO for Videos

It starts with keyword research. Go back to keyword research that you've already done in search engine optimization for your website. Look at what people are searching for, what problems they are trying to solve.

YouTube is a primarily personality-driven medium. Whereas on your website it's main text and still images, on video people can hear and watch, and you've got all of that additional sensory input to how you answer a question compared to just text.

In your keyword research, start organizing keywords.  Look at all the keywords related to your video's context and begin to develop content themes.  This is very similar to what you do for a website: develop content themes and a hierarchy and create pages based on those.  However, in the video, these will develop into category headings that you'll be publishing your videos under.

This is where you utilize the longtail keywords.  Longtail keywords are those extended search expressions where people utilize four, five, or six-word phrases to describe a problem or the specific information that they want to see.  That is a lot of what does well on YouTube, and the better you describe your video, the more visibility it will have.

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Scripting for Improving SEO for Videos

When you've identified keywords that relate strongly to your content, use those keywords for scripting your video.  If you're doing creating video from a 

business standpoint rather than a personality standpoint, you've got to answer people's questions, and the more you answer their questions, the more you keep their engagement.

Scripting your business video is a short five-step process.  First, introduce yourself: tell people who you are and what business you represent.  Second, very quickly get to what you're going to do.  Third, do it: demonstrate it, show it, show how it's done.  Fourth, at the conclusion of your video, restate what you did.  The fifth and final step is to wrap it up in your conclusion, including a call to action where you ask people to click on something, subscribe to your channel, leave a comment, or follow the link to a landing page on your website.

Keep the information you are presenting focused on what you are doing and utilize keywords. That's the reason for writing a script and staying on that script.  Another advantage of a written script document is that you can utilize it later when you upload your video: you can upload your script as well for subtitles, and in that way, you get your keywords into the video.

After having learned about scripting that helps improve the SEO for Videos, let us next learn about the title types that enhance SEO for videos.

Title Types for Enhancing SEO for Videos

Now let's optimize our videos for the YouTube search algorithm.  The first thing is to write attractive titles.

Titles are one of the first things that people see, and they judge whether or not they will click on the video based on the title.  The title is also the primary content that the search engine will view.  Remember, YouTube is a search engine, just like Google is a search engine.  YouTube uses text-based content as a factor in determining which videos are more important than others.  The text that you use in your titles, descriptions, and all those things utilizing keywords helps to increase the relevance, so describe your content in the title.

Use a couple of keywords but also create some excitement.  How to's are great title starters because they show people what they will be able to do.  Utilize benefits, ask questions, but keep it to about 60 characters or less.  That way your entire title will be visible to the searcher on both a mobile and desktop device.  You don't have much space, but you've got to utilize that space by using keywords and making it exciting.

Some title types that can improve SEO for videos are:

  • Clickbait  

    The clickbait title sometimes says things that are so outrageous that it makes you click on the video just to see if it's true!
  • How-To

    This is for instructional content, like "how to make the perfect pizza" or "how to do a home renovation." 
  • Problem and Solution 

    Without saying "how-to," it addresses a question and develops more keywords.
  • What Is 

    It uses search keywords that people are searching for, just restating from the search results right into the video title.  You look at the questions that people are asking and copy those. 
  • List  

    People are fascinated by a list.  It tells people what's going to happen when they watch the video, it sets a clear expectation, and it tells them that the content is going to be very condensed and presented in an organized format.
  • Secret Sauce 

    The video producer is going to teach you something that you don't know, and only they do: that's the secret sauce. 
  • Combination

    You can combine these title types in various ways, like "six woodworking tips and tricks for beginners," "Home Organization tips and hacks" (hacks is a great word - people love it), or "this will take minutes and save your dog's life."

The key to titles is figuring out what attracts the audience: for the content that you use and that you promote, what does your audience like?  A lot of this depends on your personality, the business you have, and how you are presenting the information.  Your analytics will show you click-through rates and watch rates, and you can try different title types and even combinations.

Next, let us take a look at the titles and tags which inturn improves SEO for videos.

Descriptions, Filenames, and Tags to Improve SEO for Videos

Where the title has about 60 characters, the description has a thousand characters.  However, only 100 characters or fewer are visible in the YouTube results or in the YouTube suggested video window.  Within 100 characters, you need to be able to present a clear idea or a clear summary of what the video is about to induce people to click on "show more." Break up the description text with the limited markup tools the field supports: utilize the bold text and line breaks, capitalize, and create a call to action.  You can also put links in here to take people to your landing pages.

Before you upload your file to YouTube, optimize the file name.  YouTube is a text-based search engine, and your file name is searchable.  Instead of the technical naming convention, you use in your internal systems, change it to describe what's going to happen in the video.

When you upload a file, you also have an opportunity to add tags to classify the content.  If you're creating dog training videos, use dog training tags like training, obedience training, dogs, and puppies.  Your tags explain what's in the video.  But be careful: people have seen that their video or their channel has been penalized for using tags or keywords that aren't relevant or associated with the content in the video, so avoid doing that.

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To Host or Not to Host

Whether to host or not, what might actually improve the SEO for videos? You may choose to host the video on your website instead of on YouTube. Google will still crawl your website and your video, so videos that are embedded in your website have just as many opportunities to be in the Google rankings as YouTube videos. it's up to you to decide how you want to go about doing that: if you self-host and curatE videos on your website instead of video sites, you should use schema or markup language here (the resource for this is at schema.org).  You won't have the benefit of a YouTube channel, but you will have more control over the video behavior.

YouTube Studio

As you upload your videos, the basic video uploader won't ask you a lot of additional information.  When you get into YouTube studio, you can choose the video and add more information.  You can add or edit the title and the description, but then it will ask you additional information such as: Where does this play in the video collection organization?  How do you group your videos by theme and content?  This is where your keyword research helps you develop categories for your videos.

Other tools in YouTube Studio include:

  • Playlists.  Automatic play of the playlist increases your visibility.
  • Transcriptions and closed captions. This additional text helps with the search.  You can generate these through YouTube's speech-to-text transcription.

YouTube has a very different layer of optimization that Google does not, which is popularity. When you go to your account on YouTube, you'll notice YouTube constantly recommends the most popular content.  That ensures that what's popular will continue to be popular.

The popularity algorithm is called the power law algorithm.   YouTube has kind of figured out what you like, but it will also suggest popular channels and popular related content of popular people.  

The result is that 80% of YouTube views are generated by just 11% of YouTube creators: that's about 500,000 creators.  The next 1.5 million creators only get 11% of the views, and the next 2.6 million creators only get 8% of the views. That's a power law, sometimes called the 80/20 rule.

Steps to Implement SEO for Videos

There are things you can do to grow your popularity and to increase your metrics to take advantage of the YouTube algorithm.

  • Market your content outside of YouTube.  You can do that by putting videos on your website and hosting them there rather than on YouTube or Vimeo.  However, even if you are using YouTube and Vimeo, you can go to your audience through email and other forms of marketing to drive people to a landing page.
  • Use your videos to prompt your audience to subscribe.  Tell them that your email list is where your exclusive content and exclusive offers are.  As you move them from becoming a Youtube subscriber to an email subscriber, you can grow your marketing and prospect lists.
  • Continue to link your videos in social media.  Ask people to share your videos or embed them, but don't just focus on YouTube.  Focus on using links from your videos to build links to your website.  

Let's look at some very specific things the YouTube popularity algorithm uses for evaluation.   

  • Click-Through Rate  

    The clicks-to-impressions ratio is a high metric on YouTube's algorithm.  Make your title, your thumbnail, and your description click-worthy. 
  • Watch Time and Retention  

    YouTube watches how long people watch your video, and at what point the majority of viewers drop off.  How long you engage people on your video and how long you keep them through to the end are two significant factors in determining your video's popularity.
  • Viewer Behavior after Watching the Video

    How many people click the subscribe button?  How many people leave a comment or rate the video?  These actions show that they are engaged and so these factors into popularity.  You should always end your video by asking people to take action.


To get that click, pay attention to thumbnails.  In search results, the only things people can see are the thumbnail image, the video title, a short description, a channel name, how many views, and the age of the video. That's the only information they have to decide to make the click.  What will get them to click?

As with titles, there are a variety of ways people use thumbnails to present their videos.

  • Professional. It's a very clear presentation with a sans-serif font. There's not a lot of hype, it's very clear, and the title is on the thumbnail. The professional look fits a B2B business or a business giving professional information to consumers.
  • Logo.  If you're well-known within your audience, you can utilize a recognizable logo to emphasize your brand or channel.
  • Meme.  Focus on an image and then use heavy sans-serif fonts to make the thumbnail look like a meme that might be shared widely.
  • Photoshop style.  The thumbnail is heavily Photoshopped and focuses on faces and very bold, colourful graphics with Photoshopped effects.
  • Whaaaat?  In this style, there are faces, and everyone's mouth is open, and their eyes are wide open as if they are saying, "Whaaaat?" The message of, "Wow, I can't believe that," creates an excitement that attracts the click

Watch Your Analytics

It's essential to monitor your analytics.  One of the things you want to look at is audience retention.  You can see how your audience drops off as the video progresses.  The more of your audience that watches the video to the end and the later in the video that your audience drops off, the better the effect for your popularity rating.  The goal is to keep the vast majority of people watching as long as possible, so you want to look at that time mark of where you lose 50% of your audience and figure out how to win them back.

Fortunately, YouTube studio has added some editing functions, so you can go in and edit videos that you've already uploaded to optimize them.  For example, you can look at where people are dropping off and edit at that point in the video to keep action moving.  However, if you see a trend where people are dropping out right from the beginning, that tells you something about the video: it may not be answering people's questions, and it's probably not engaging them, so it may need to be redone completely.  

You can also watch the webinar video to know more about these tips and tools for SEO for video.

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Key Takeaways

Matt identified critical takeaways from this SEO for videos webinar:

  • Use keywords wisely.  Go back to your keyword research and find what people want by the words they use.  Incorporate those keywords into your content planning. 
  • Optimize video searchability through the title, description, and tags and by creating playlists.
  • Watch your popularity metrics and how YouTube looks at those.  Use them to optimize your content and its metadata.
  • Most importantly, present your content to get the click.  Use the title and thumbnail to generate excitement.  Market your video through email, social media, and other methods outside of Youtube.  Get people to your video in your channel and then use the feedback of your analytics to take action to improve your videos.

Going forward, one of the biggest issues companies will have is hiring qualified candidates once we're past the COVID-19 crisis.  They will be looking for candidates certified in skills like PPC, email marketing, mobile marketing, or a complete suite of digital marketing skills with the Online Digital Marketing Specialist Program.  Making sure you've got the certifications that demonstrate you're a qualified candidate will help your career going forward once we get back to (relatively) normal.

About the Author


Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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