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Four simple steps could turn your video content into a powerful driver of organic search traffic, but video works differently to web pages in search engines and this technical detail is causing a lot of brands to miss out.  

However, reaching page one of Google is substantially easier with video than a web page.

These top tips will tell you exactly what you need to do to harness the power of video SEO.

On Thursday I had the great pleasure of representing Econsultancy talking about the geeky subject of Video SEO to an audience at Marketing Week Live. I was amazed at how popular the topic was!

More than 30 people have been in touch on Twitter asking for a copy of the slides so I thought I’d note down some of the headlines here for people to read.

Most brands are missing out by not bothering

While most businesses are spending worthwhile funds improving their position in search engine results pages through SEO, very few are doing the same for video despite the fact it’s a lot simpler.  

Because few people are doing it, competition is lower and it’s reputedly 50 times easier to reach page one of Google with a video than it is with a web page (Forrester, 2011).

Google can’t see what’s in your videos

Search engines are not yet clever enough to see what's actually going on in the video, so adjusting the edit to make it more search engine friendly won't help!

What matters here is metadata – information that exists about the video, that search engines use to determine what to display on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Google has an index just for videos

When Google displays video results in SERPs, those results come from querying Google's video index. This is a big index of all the videos on the web that Google knows about.

It automatically includes anything that's public on YouTube. But it can also include videos that are hosted on your site. The thing you need in order to do this is a video sitemap, which is a relatively technical undertaking but worth the investment in time.

Online video platforms like Buto generate video sitemaps for you automatically. They’ve created a handy guide to video sitemaps on their blog, which will guide you through the steps you need to take even if you’re not a customer. 

Video doesn’t always appear as part of search

Google has the option to display video results only, but this has recently moved off the default navigation menu for most people and into ‘More’.  

So now your video SEO work is primarily focused on reaching the top two or three positions so your videos appear on page one as part of blended search.  

Google only displays blended results when it thinks videos might be particularly relevant to the keyword or phrase someone's searched for.

For example:

blended serp cats on skateboards

What about YouTube?

YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world. Unlike Google, which can’t tell much about the videos on your site, YouTube knows a lot about the videos it hosts and uses this richer information to determine the order of its own search engine results.

All of the following factors have an impact on positioning in YouTube search:

  • Metadata – video title, description and tags (just like Google video search).
  • Number of comments and shares.
  • Date added (new videos will rank highly).
  • View count (and channel view count, number of subscribers and playlist adds).
  • Rating and flagging.
  • Incoming links (exposure on other sites, other embeds, RSS links).

Most of these ranking considerations are down to actions that viewers take, not things you can control or manipulate. This places even greater importance on content and means your video's rise to success in search is dependent on it taking off from the word go. 

More can be found on video SEO in Econsultancy’s Online Video Best Practice Guide.  If you were at Marketing Week Live and want the slides just @reply me via @steffanaquarone.  

If you have any experiences to share please comment below!

Steffan Aquarone

Published 2 July, 2013 by Steffan Aquarone

Steffan Aquarone is Owner at Venio Services and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

2 more posts from this author

Comments (12)

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Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

Thomas Pink have had some recent success with Video SEO, for example, search for https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=bengal+stripe+shirt and there is a nice video result in the first page. It really stands out from the crowd.

almost 4 years ago


Video Broadcast Services

Your comment about the date of a video being taken into consideration with YouTubes SERP's is also why it is key that a video marketing strategy be long term and not just a one to two video campaign.

almost 4 years ago


David Horn

Nice article, thank you. I wonder for how long Google will not be able to see what's inside a video ... metadata (at least, owner generated metadata) was devalued as a search ranking factor for web pages a while ago, and you imagine that Google would prefer to be indexing the actual content of the video. Interesting to know when they'll get there!

almost 4 years ago

Steffan Aquarone

Steffan Aquarone, Owner at Droplet Online Ltd.Small Business Multi-user

That's a good question David. Apparently Google did find some cats in videos programmatically last year: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/06/google-x-neural-network/

almost 4 years ago


Neil Whitehead

One aspect that always gets forgotten that does have an impact. Upload the transcript file to make sure that youtube and google ca read what is said correctly. The auto transcript facility of youtube is fairly sketchy at best

almost 4 years ago

Neil Whitehead

Neil Whitehead, Digital Executive at Impeyshowers.com

One aspect that always gets forgotten that does have an impact. Upload the transcript file to make sure that youtube and google ca read what is said correctly. The auto transcript facility of youtube is fairly sketchy at best

almost 4 years ago


Corey Petree

As a video producer, it's been disappointing to see some clients bury videos deep within websites, or roughly abandon them on YouTube, never to be seen again. There are great opportunities to turn this sad situation around though, and it's gratifying to hear more discussion about specific remedies. Thank you!

almost 4 years ago


River sand

Thank you for posting this post, we apperciate your post on While most businesses are spending worthwhile funds improving their position in search engine results pages through SEO, very few are doing the same for video despite the fact it’s a lot simpler.

almost 4 years ago



Though Google can’t see what’s in your videos for SEO, still the can trac related all other things with the video for SEO.

almost 4 years ago

Mike  Darnell

Mike Darnell, Social Marketing at Treepodia Ecommerce Video Solution

The article talks about how technical and expensive video sitemaps are to implement, however I have to mention that there are solutions out there, such as Treepodia which won't put a dent in your marketing budget.

Video has become the first port-of-call when shopping online, so getting videos to the top of the results in a total must. Take Stuart's example from above. A great example of how video stands out from the crowd.

over 3 years ago

Gary Jennings

Gary Jennings, Director at 43 Digital

Interesting comments Mike, and thanks to Stuart for posting the example. We are the company behind the success of this campaign for Thomas Pink. Our technology platform and specific video centric SEO work is why they are benefiting from these positions and our video sitemap generator is part of the toolset we provide to clients.

Searches for 'White shirts' and 'Wedding shirts' provide further evidence of the effectiveness of our platform.

over 3 years ago


Ace Green, a at a

Rich blog here. I wonder if google keeps this as a secret as well. Also, I like the fact that youtube plays a big role on google seo.

I hope you don't mind posting my services here. One of which is to boost up youtube comments. Check it here to learn more.. www.fiverr.com/qualityhighfive

about 3 years ago

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