Search Engine Success: Getting Video SEO Right

By: Benjamin Wayne, Search Engine Watch, Jan 27, 2010

Videos, properly submitted, are 53 times more likely to generate a first page Google ranking than traditional SEO techniques, according to a recent study by Forrester Research. However, many companies are ignoring video SEO altogether, only submitting the pages on which videos reside and not the videos themselves, or worst of all, submitting their video assets to YouTube under the misunderstanding that this will generate SEO benefits.

The Unfair Advantages of Video SEO

Although video SEO isn’t dissimilar to traditional SEO, it has two distinct advantages.

First, Google and other search engines work to have a mix of content types displayed in search results (a.k.a., blended search results). For this reason, they give a higher ranking to video content than other forms of Web content in order to make sure that searches consistently display mixed search results.

Second, there’s a relative dearth of video content available today, and only a small fraction of the content available is properly submitted to search engines for inclusion in the search indexes. This combination of disproportionate bias towards video content and the small pool of indexed video content available is a gold mine for publishers.

Getting Video Content into the Search Engines and Getting it Right

Today, almost all search engines will allow sites to submit video content in the form of an XML feed. However, serialization of the feed is unique to each engine, and not all guidelines are published. Sites wishing to do this on their own should contact the individual search engines for specific guidelines on submission, as published guidelines are often outdated or inaccurate. Some sites may have specific guidelines on feed size or pagination, which will also need to be followed if all videos are to appear.

In creating an XML feed, search engines give disproportionate weighting to the title of the video, and ignore most other metadata associated with the feed. Different search engines will choose different thumbnails for display, and if particular thumbnails are desired, sites should take care to include only those thumbnails in the feed.

Submit the Video, but Also Submit the Page

Many sites submit the pages on which videos are displayed, but fail to submit the videos themselves. Other sites submit the videos, but forget to index the pages.

For best results, sites should submit a permalink sitemap that mirrors their video XML feed. Title tags on the permalink pages should be identical to the video title to achieve the highest page rank scoring.

Things to ask your Video Platform Provider

Search engine submission for video is a complex and rapidly-changing process, and many sites may wish to turn to their video platform provider to assist them in achieving maximum results. In doing so, they should be careful to ask the following questions:

  • Will you index both my video permalink pages and the videos themselves?
  • Will links point back to my site, or will they drive traffic to pages hosted by the video platform provider?
  • How often will feeds be updated?
  • In which search engines will my results appear?
  • How will I be able to track click-through and ROI?


Video SEO is a powerful tool, and should be part of the marketing arsenal of all online publishers. However, successful indexing requires a specific implementation for each individual search engine, and can best be enhanced by submitting videos and pages in parallel.

Your video platform provider can be a powerful enabler, but it’s crucial to make sure that links will point back to your site, ensuring traffic arrives at your destination. Done right, video SEO can increase search engine performance by more than 5,000 percent and provide a powerful new marketing tool for your organization.

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