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Digital Marketing

SEO for Video: 5 Rules to Get Your Videos Ranking

Last Updated on June 23, 2022

When we think of SEO, most people’s minds immediately go to backlinks, focus keywords, and page titles. However, there is one (increasingly popular) channel that’s largely neglected during the SEO conversation. This channel, as you may have guessed based on this post’s title, is of course SEO for video.

Video production is globally on the rise as more and more individuals are able to produce quality video content with their phones and other inexpensive equipment. Video consumption is skyrocketing, too: Nearly 43% of all global internet users access YouTube monthly. 

So why is video never at the forefront of the SEO conversation? The short answer: People simply don’t realize that there’s more they can do to direct legitimate, organic traffic to their video content.

Luckily, the USDP team is here to provide a few tips and tricks for optimizing your videos for SEO. Read on to learn the top 5 SEO for video techniques:

1. Don’t Forget Your Keywords!

While this may sound obvious, it’s something that gets neglected far too often. Google does crawl the keywords in your video title and description, which means that they can play an important role in getting your video to rank organically. 

Use keyword research tools like Ubersuggest, SEMrush, or Moz to identify keywords that are relevant to your video and give you a chance to rank well. Choosing your focus keywords is essentially a balancing act between significant search volume and keyword competition. Ideally, you’ll be able to find a keyword that is highly relevant to your video, gets a sufficient amount of monthly search traffic, and isn’t already dominated by your competitors. 

Once you’ve chosen your keyword, simply incorporate it into your video’s title and description and you’re all set!

Pro tip: Add your focus keyword to the video file name before you upload it to your video hosting platform. Sites like Youtube scrape file names for keywords and factor it into their rankings.

2. Add a Video Transcript

Adding a transcript to your videos is a simple, no-brainer step that will have several positive effects on your video SEO. The first, most basic advantage of using transcripts is that they keep people engaged with your videos whether they have their sound on or not. Since Google ultimately wants to serve people content that is engaging, transcripts should definitely factor into your SEO for video strategies.

The second reason to add a transcript to your videos is that they give Google additional crawlable information about your content. When Google bots crawl your transcriptions, that gives Google an easy opportunity to know that your focus keyword is mentioned multiple times throughout your video.

So, how do you implement this tactic? First, go ahead and generate that transcript. There are several free video transcription generators that can be found with a quick Google search. If you’ve got access to Adobe Premiere, transcription is a standard feature. Once you’ve downloaded the transcript file, you will need to upload it to Youtube, Vimeo, or the other video hosting platform you’re using. That’s it!

Pro tip: Add the video transcript to your video description. This gives you yet another chance to tell Google what keywords should be associated with your video.

3. Capitalize on Hashtags

Hashtags (#) present an incredible opportunity to invest in your SEO for video on Youtube and other hosting platforms. Users are now accustomed to searching for hashtags to find new content that interests them. Many platforms even allow users to follow hashtags, which means that users can populate their feed with videos containing those hashtags. 

This is a massive opportunity. With hashtags, you can easily get your brand in front of people who are in your target audience but don’t already follow you.

First, identify hashtags that are relevant to your video and your target audience. Then add them to your video description and Youtube will do the rest. Youtube will even display your hashtags above your video title!

Pro tip: Try out a hashtag generator tool like TubeRanker and Keyword Tool to find trending hashtags that will maximize your reach.

4. (Thumb)Nail Your Imagery

Thumbnail images are another crucial part of your winning SEO for video techniques. After all, if your thumbnail image doesn’t grab anyone’s attention, you’ll struggle to rack up significant traffic no matter how highly-ranked your video may be. So, what does an ideal thumbnail image look like?

Above anything else, your thumbnail image needs to make your video stand out from your competition. You can accomplish this by adding unique custom imagery, avoiding generic stock images, and trying to push the creative envelope. 

Pro tip: Create your thumbnail images in 1280×720 pixels with a 16:9 ratio for best results.

5. Make a Playlist

Youtube allows you to create video playlists and add your newly-uploaded videos to these playlists. Don’t ignore this feature! Set your video’s focus keyword (or a synonym) as the playlist title to give Youtube and Google yet another way to understand what your video is all about. Ultimately, the more times you can connect your video to your focus keywords, the better!

Over time, you can work to create a series of related videos with focus keyword synonyms in their video titles. This will ensure that your individual videos and playlist both rank well for your target topic. This idea is analogous to creating content clusters on a website and assigning a pillar page with blog posts.

Pro tip: Don’t forget about Tip #1 above. None of these SEO for video techniques matter if you aren’t identifying highly-relevant keywords that you can realistically rank for!


So, what now? Get to making great video content and following the rules above to get your videos showing up at the top of the search results! Or, if you don’t feel like you have the time or expertise, give USDP a call and we are more than happy to help. Our team has been creating awesome videos for years and specializes in getting your content ranking at the top of the search results.

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By: Nick Zinn

Nick is a digital analyst at USDP. He enjoys EDM music and finding the best foodie destinations.