8 Ways to Optimize Video for Search Engine Visibility


If you had not already noticed, there has been an explosion of video on the web. Greater availability of broadband connections, coupled with the rise of video hosting and sharing sites, such as YouTube, has made online video accessible to the masses.

In addition to classic search engine optimization, marketing professionals now need to consider how to best distribute and promote their video content, ranging from viral product promotions to ancillary training and support videos.

This article offers specific considerations for video search engine optimization (SEO), sometimes called iVOD search engine optimization.

Online Video: Where?

Online Video can be hosted on a company’s site and / or on one of the many shared hosting services. The most famous sharing site is probably YouTube, but there are many as Deirdrè Straughan notes in her comparison of video sharing sites. Deirdrè also cites a MediaThink video sharing site comparison table. Do note that this table may be a bit out of date given the dynamic nature of video hosting.

Online Video – Not Who you Might Think

Each of the video sharing sites, such as YouTube, has its own internal search engine. Their indexing is usually limited to videos hosted on their site or corporate properties. So an Internet user looking to search beyond the confines of YouTube would probably turn to a major search engine.

Unfortunately, the situation is not so simple. While Google might be the choice for comprehensive web search, Google’s video search is limited to Google Video and YouTube – probably not what most Internet users have in mind. For a true video search engine, a better place to start is Yahoo Video Search, which does try to catalog the entire world’s video information.

Other web wide video search engines include AOL’s Truveo powered searchvideo.com (AOL video search seems to carry fewer videos), Microsoft’s live (which offers results similar to AOL) and a relative newcomer, Blinkx. Blinkx is working to become the premier video search engine. Judging by the number of partnerships signed, many Internet content suppliers are betting on Blinkx’s success. For now, our favorite underdog, Ask, only supports «movie search» but Ask’s parent company, InterActiveCorp/IAC, is an investor with AOL in Brightcove.com, so watch this space! Finally, Excite is worthy of mention as an alternative to the bigger players.

Each national market will have local players. In Italy, Alice / Virgilio offers both Alice Video Search and Video sharing. The video search allows a search across multiple sources including: Alice Video, blip.tv, Flurl, Google Video, Grouper, Guba, Jumpcut, Kewego, Libero Video, Metacafe, MySpace, Revver, Veoh, Vimeo, vSocial, Yahoo! Video and YouTube. Libero Video is another significant player.

8 Top Tips for Video Search Engine Optimization

The following tips encompass best practices for video search engine optimization (), regardless of where your video is hosted – on your site or on a sharing system. These tips are search engine agnostic – not all of them may be necessary for specific video search engine today, but by applying best practices today, your videos will be ready for future indexing improvements.

  1. Offer your audio and video content in as many formats as possible. You won’t have to worry too much about which video search engine of the moment accepts which type of content. Even more importantly, your web site users can choose the format and quality best suited to their platform and internet connect speed. Usability practitioners will applaud your efforts. Do practice your information architecture skills – clearly label the types of formats you offer, indicating platform and software support along with typical download times based on connection speed. Avoid the classic Windows Media only trap.
  2. Review and update video or other multimedia file meta properties. The actual properties will vary by file type and the authoring software used. Review titles, descriptions and keyword tags, as you would html file meta tags. If your site is commercial, keep in mind branding considerations – include your company name in a judicious location.
  3. Use appropriate keywords in the filename and URL. Perhaps you have created a successful ongoing series of video interviews with Italian pop stars. In Rome, you managed to interview Tiziano Ferro. A good filename might be http://www.mysite.com/video-interviews/tiziano-ferro-rome.mp4. Not only does this approach help search engines identify the content, it also makes web analytics reports much easier to interpret – without needing to take any special action such as adding content grouping. Keep in mind: what is worth doing is not worth overdoing. Don’t exaggerate. As with general SEO, avoid common words, such as «a», «and», «is», «the». Known technically as stop words, these grammar bits are generally ignored by search engines.
  4. Use appropriate keywords in the link text for the file. Avoid at all costs the infamous «click here». While the link text should be search engine friendly, it should be first and foremost user friendly. Fortunately, the two usually coincide.
  5. Optimize the video’s presentation page, using standard SEO techniques. This is also true for videos uploaded to sharing sites.
  6. Offer a textual transcript of audio and video content. This is a usability and accessibility requirement as well as a search engine optimization tip.
  7. Publicize your multimedia files with appropriate feeds. There are some negatives to consider, such as content scraping, or stealing, which can be facilitated by RSS feeds. Commercial content should include a «watermark» to indicate origin. For video, this is usually a company’s logo as is often seen in television broadcasts.
  8. Put your video everywhere. Our final tip is tactical: your clients and potential clients may find your video directly on their favorite video sharing site. For those using a proper video search engine, you’ll have more opportunity to appear in the search results, based on the video crawling ability of a particular search engine. Many video search engines currently have poor duplicate content filtering capabilities. This means a well optimized and distributed video will likely fill the search engine results, keeping competitors at a distance. In reality, this is not good for the overall video search sector, so we do hope that duplication detection improves.

Our related article, Multimedia Search Engine Optimization, provides background information on what clues a search engine has available to it when indexing image, audio and video rich media.

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About Sean Carlos

Sean Carlos is a digital marketing consultant & teacher, assisting companies with their Search (SEO + SEA = SEM), Social Media & Digital Media Analytics strategies. Sean first worked with text indexing in 1990 in a project for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Since then he worked for Hewlett-Packard Consulting and later as IT Manager of a real estate website before founding Antezeta in 2006. Sean is an official instructor of the Digital Analytics Association and collaborates with the Bocconi University. He is Chairman of the SMX Search and Social Media Conference, 13 & 14 November in Milan. He is also a co-author of the Treccani encyclopedic dictionary of computer science, ICT & digital media. Born in Providence, RI, USA, Sean received Honors in Physics from Bates College, Maine. He speaks English, Italian and German.

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