Video SEO: Actionable YouTube Marketing Tips

More than 100-hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each minute. A year ago the figure was 72-hours each minute, and two years ago it was 24-hours of video every minute. These statistics illustrate the difficulty faced in using YouTube for marketing purposes, but they should not discourage you. When approached correctly and purposefully, YouTube videos can have a significant impact on your brand visibility and search engine ranking.

As with written content, video content needs to be engaging, informative and it should encourage sharing. Once you’ve managed to achieve that you then need to focus on optimizing the video for two separate purposes:

  • It needs to be visible to the public and search engines.
  • It needs to link effectively to your brand, and it must promote sharing and repeat visits to your company website.

Video SEO

Having a video that is visible to the public and search engines requires more than just changing the privacy setting, and the following steps will help you to optimize your video upload effectively:

File Name

The first bit of optimizing happens before you even upload your video to YouTube. Modify the file name of the video to match the video title, using a hyphen (dash) to separate each word.

Video Title

You probably put a lot of effort into your blog post headlines, so why not do the same with your video titles? Make sure the titles are catchy, attention-grabbing and that they also offer up a little bit of information about the video content – what can viewers expect from the video. As mentioned in the previous step, the video title and the file name should match, and if you are going to use the video in a blog post, try keeping the video title the same as the blog headline.


While the role of keywords has changed substantially over the past few years, they do still play an important role in discovery. Your video title (and file name) should already include 2-3 keyword phrases, and you should repeat these in the YouTube video description. Focus on semantically correct sentences when including keyword phrases; don’t just drop them into the description haphazardly.

Tags and Category

Start with the keywords you used in your description, and end off with a few related tags. Don’t use too many tags, around 5-7 is a good number. Categories are an often-overlooked aspect of SEO, so don’t forget to select the most appropriate category for your video. If you regularly post “how-to” videos you should post some to the “Howto” category, and some to categories more closely linked to the actual subject. Monitor the performance of both on YouTube to see which category generates the most views for your videos.

Closed Captioning and Transcriptions

YouTube now includes an option to automatically generate captions, but the system is not perfect. The words used, along with the accent of the speaker, all affect the systems ability to generate captions. A more reliable option is to include your own transcription of the audio, which should be easy if you read from a prepared script. The YouTube system will automatically convert your transcript file into captions on the video, and a text transcription that is available from the video interface. Although the captions would be available even on embedded videos, the text transcription is only available when the video is viewed on the YouTube website.


Use annotations to share additional information, including links to your website or specific articles. You can add annotations to any part of your video, but since you would want viewers to watch the entire video first, it is usually best to add them at the end of the video. This is especially important for when your video is viewed on the YouTube website, or embedded on other websites.

Rich Snippets

Rich snippets are a way to show additional information in search results, including authorship, video, product information and even reviews. When used correctly rich snippets help your results stand out, and even though Google has recently warned of a reduction in the amount of rich snippet results shown, they should still be an important component of your SEO strategy.

Implementing rich snippets can be quite technical, which is why some people avoid them completely. If your blog runs on WordPress there are several plugins that make the implementation much easier, with Video SEO for WordPress being an essential premium plugin for any website that includes video posts.


Whenever you upload a new video to YouTube you can have it shared to Facebook, Google+ and Twitter automatically, but if you are using video for SEO purposes, this should not be the only promoting you do. Video for SEO is most effective when combined with onsite SEO, meaning that every video that you create and upload should also be part of a blog post.

After you have uploaded your video, you should immediately publish a blog post with the video embedded in it. This should not be a simple headline and video post. Instead, it should consist of a headline that is identical to the title of the video, one or two paragraphs of text in which you give some background information on the video, explaining how it will benefit your audience while carefully including two or three keyword phrases. Follow this with the embedded video, and possibly a call to action.

Once you have published your article, you can share it across your social profiles and work on building links back to it.


The benefits of adding video to your content marketing mix are twofold:

  • When done correctly, and with proper planning, you should see a substantial improvement to your overall search ranking.
  • You should also see a reduction in your bounce rate as video content keeps your audience engaged, and on-page, for much longer.

Even though it is important that any video content you create be engaging and informative, it isn’t necessary for it to always be pure video. Screencasts and even slideshows that have been converted to video can be just as rewarding to your audience, and both require very little technical skill, and almost no production budget.