How To Add In-File Metadata To Video Files

Many video formats support metadata attached directly to the file (in-file metadata). This metadata can sometimes be extracted by search engines to better rank and catalog your multimedia content. Additionally it is not lost when a user downloads the file to their computer instead of viewing it on the internet. So there are certain benefits to doing this, but how to go about it?

The benefits may outweigh the work involved even if you might have hundreds of multimedia files that you want to add metadata to. The search engines are becoming more multimedia aware and the more information you can attach to your files means better targeted and higher traffic that will convert into income for you.

If you're fortunate to have a newer version of Adobe Creative Suite it includes an application called Bridge which is "the control center for Adobe Creative Suite." This application enables file organization, etc. It also allows for the addition of metadata on certain files. In particular it is able to do so with AVI and MOV files, but I was not able to add metadata to an MP4.

Adobe Bridge creates the data in XMP, Extensible Metadata Platform, which is based on XML and was created by Adobe Systems. This has essentially become the de facto standard for most embedded metadata. It allows the metadata to be stored in the file without making the file unreadable by non-XMP aware applications.

This procedure in Adobe Bridge is quite simple:

  1. Open Adobe Bridge.
  2. Browse to the desired file.
  3. Right Click on the file name or thumbnail and choose File Info…
  4. Fill in desired fields and Click OK.

For those of you that are not fortunate enough to have the Adobe Creative Suite there are other, less costly solutions available. For ASF files you can take a look into MetadataEdit.exe which is included in the WM Format SDK 9 which will allow you to edit the metadata on formats that are supported by Windows Media. It was also included in versions 10 and 11 of the SDK.

Another freeware application is abcAVI Tag Editor which supports RIFF INFO tags, MovieID tags and IDivX tags. However the caveat is that it does add some junk data to the files according to recent user reviews so beware. Yet another freeware application is XnView 1.93.2 which is a fast multi-format graphics browser, viewer, and converter that can read over 400 file formats including AVI, Quicktime and mpeg as well as edit the metadata in the files. This may very well be the best option on the freeware front.

If you're a Linux user a good program to do this looks to be XMP Manager. While the software is still in development from what I read, it looks to directly edit a large number of formats.

On the commercial software front in August 2007 Pound Hill Software released Metagrove, a series of applications that deal with metadata, at a steep cost.

Overall the hunt for the proper application depends on your needs and your file formats of choice. Hopefully one of the free options will suit your needs but if not then it might be time to look into a commercial option.

Keep in mind that adding in-file metadata will only help with SEO when you are hosting the videos on your own site. If you upload your videos to a video sharing website like Youtube, your file will be transcoded by the platform and you will not retain any of this metadata. For optimization on video sharing websites, read some of our other tips for video SEO, and make sure to take advantage of all the meta fields that you can use with the video sharing website, tags, descriptions, titles, etc….

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Posted in Video SEO
About the Author -
Mark Robertson is the Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, an online information resource dedicated to the fusion of video, technology, social media, search, and internet marketing. He is a YouTube Certified, video marketing consultant and video marketing expert, popular speaker, and considered to be a passionate leader within the online video and search marketing industries. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • Sat Lewis

    does this work for photos too? does the search engine use the in file meta data created in bridge for SEO?

  • Jeff Simser

    Is there a program that will let you view meta data in a MP4. I use Sorenson Squeeze and the program has a meta data editor, but after i squeeze the video, i want to be able to see the meta data so i know it's still there. RichFLV will let you view the meta data for flash files... Any such program for MP4's ??

    • Mark Robertson

      Hey Jeff - was just looking at my emails and saw yours ;-) You should be
      able to right click on any file (either OS) and view properties/info - that
      should have the information. Longer discussion - but I wouldnt really care
      about it if I were you in terms of SEO. If you are using MP4 metadata for
      internal categorization, that is worthwhile but it doesnt appear that others
      (search engines) are using the in-file metadata - IE, it is the last thing I
      would worry about. Oh yeah - and yes, I still recommend h.264 MP4... have
      a good one.

    • Joe

      MetadataTouch - - can view/edit XMP metadata in MP4 files.

  • Ana | Traffic Generation Cafe

    Great info; I was working on figuring this out for YouTube videos, but your answer spared me a lot of work. Thanks!Ana

    • Mark Robertson

      Thanks Ana. Love ya

  • scott

    Just getting into this now. Do you know what people are using on the Mac side?

    • Mark Robertson

      Scott.. that is a good question... Couple things. 1) I believe, having done some testing, that in-file metadata is really not leveraged as much these days by the search engines - so it may not be worth the time for that purpose exclusively. 2) Adobe CS4 should work with Mac but alternatively - you could use sorenson squeeze... I know that those 2 work but there are probably other alternatives as well. Hope that helps

  • Houston SEO

    Thanks for the tips for video optimization. This will come in very handy as we have several clients that have recorded videos that we have included on their websites and would like to further optimize them to rank better in video searches.

  • Marco C

    Thank you. I have been looking for this info forever. Still, doesn't look like the technology is well baked yet, but it's a step in the right direction.

    • Mark Robertson

      Thanks. I use adobe bridge for this all the time. works pretty good.