Video SEO Basics Part 2

In Video SEO Basics Part 1, we talked about where you can place a video (answer: on your website first, then on video sharing sites) and the best way to maximize the search engine value of video you place on your own website. In part 2, we’ll talk about the basics of optimizing a video you upload to YouTube, the juggernaut of video sharing sites in the USA.

Optimizing Your Video On YouTube

There are four reasons to place your video on YouTube:

1. That’s where everyone goes. If you have a video that people want to watch, you need to take it to them.

2. You can generate visitors to your website. If 1,000 people view your video, and the very end of the video says “Visit for more info,” some percentage of those 1,000 viewers are going to follow directions and visit your site.

3. You can build links to your website. This isn’t a huge benefit most of the time on any specific video (with exceptions of course). However, taken in aggregate, posting dozens of videos to YouTube – each with a link back to your site in the description – is a good thing in terms of link building. However, the best link opportunity on YouTube is on your channel page, and by creating a popular channel you can get a very powerful link.

4. YouTube videos show up in Google results. When someone searches for your keywords on, there’s a chance your YouTube video will appear in the top 10 results.

How To Optimize A YouTube Video

1. The title of the video is critical to its success. Just like a web page title, you need to think about keywords and you need to keep the title as short as possible. Three to five keywords in your title would be great, and 10 keywords in your title is too many.

2. Use the right keyword tags. Think very carefully about what keywords someone would type to find your video, then be sure to tag your upload with those keywords. As far as the number of keywords to use, use no more than 5 tags per 30 seconds of length, with an absolute maximum of 20 tags for a video that’s at least two minutes long. Of course, LESS IS MORE.

3. Consider adding the keyword “video” to your tags. It’s odd, but a lot of YouTube visitors type the word “video” when they search on YouTube…a website that only has videos.

4. Place a full link to the web page that’s most relevant to your uploaded video at the very beginning of the video description. There’s some debate on this one, but our opinion is pretty strong: The first thing we want people to see in any video description is a link to the page on a website that best supports the video. That’s the best way to drive traffic to a site.

5. Embed the YouTube video on your website somewhere and then watch the embedded video ASAP. Every YouTube video has stats about “views,” and those stats include links to the first website that embedded the video. If you have a blog, embedding your uploaded video on your blog is a great way to get a link to your website in those stats. This is something you’ve got to do quickly or someone else will beat you to that link.

Note: We’re well aware that YouTube “nofollows” the link we’re describing as well as the link we suggested in the video description. However, we have always been of the opinion that nofollow links have some value. You can read a blog post we wrote about nofollow on SEOMoz awhile back.

6. Geocode your video if it’s locally important. If your business is specific to a particular locality, it’s a good idea to tell YouTube where in the world the video was made. You can geocode your video by logging into to YouTube, clicking on My Videos, then Edit for the video you want to geocode.

7. Annotations can’t hurt. There’s nothing concrete we can point to, but it would make sense if YouTube looked at annotations when ranking videos for search. We would suggest annotating your video when:

  • Your annotation clarifies or enhances the existing video
  • Your annotation can encourage viewers to take a specific action at a specific time
  • Your annotation can help viewers watch another one of your videos

As far as including keywords in annotations for the sake of including keywords, we don’t think so. Keep in mind that YouTube, Google, Yahoo, and Bing all have the technology to “listen” to a video and transcribe the written text. These transcriptions aren’t accurate enough to pick out each and every spoken word, but they’re definitely good enough to pick out most of the words in your video (including keywords). Adding annotations just to try and stuff an extra keyword into your video isn’t going to do any good.

8. Remember that YouTube is a social network. If you can get a large following on YouTube, your newest videos will get views and ratings. Videos with a lot of views and good ratings are more likely to appear in YouTube search results, which means more visitors to your website.

9. Your user channel is your best link from YouTube. Every YouTube user can add a link to their website on their channel page, and that link is followed. If you can develop a high-ranking channel on YouTube, that single link can pass a lot of value to your website.

10. Get people to rate and comment on your video. Just like search engines are fighting a war against spam, so is YouTube. Out of the millions of videos uploaded to YouTube every day, hundreds of thousands of them are crap (at least). YouTube looks for quality indicators to figure out which videos are best, which channels are best, etc., and if you can get people to comment on your videos, you’re demonstrating that your video is probably not spam.

Optimize Your Video For Sharing Sites Other Than YouTube

Generally speaking, all the same rules apply. Use a short, simple title that’s keyword sensitive, choose your tags carefully, and link to your website at the very beginning of your video description.

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