Most people who are newbies to online video marketing tend to assume that video search engine optimization is all about getting your videos into YouTube, and expecting them to appear in Google's search results. However, I argue that you have a big advantage with Video SEO if you learn to optimize your own website and video on your website first. Below is the presentation I gave at the Search Engine Strategies conference in Chicago this past October where I discussed the why's and how's of optimizing video on your website for SEO.

Website Video SEO At SES Chicago 2010

Watch the special video I created that features my actual presentation I gave at the conference with my exaggerated body language, facial expressions, and cracked voice) where I cover these following topics:

Feel free to skip the shaky Blair-Witch camera effect and the company plug to get right to the topics!  Also, you can view the raw slide presentation at the bottom of this post.

  • (5:00) Examples of performance results of Website Video SEO in Google
  • (6:03) Website Video SEO, explained – what it is, and the advantages of doing it for more effective SEO and video marketing (including over YouTube)
  • (10:00) Website Video SEO tips!

The Video SEO panel at SES Chicago 2010

What Is Website Video SEO – Is It Better Than YouTube SEO? ses chicago panel

Search Engine Strategies 2010 Video SEO Panel on Oct 20th (left-to-right): Anne Kennedy, Moderator; Grant Crowell, ReelSEO; Paul Carff, Google; Greg Jarboe, SEO-PR

I was joined by the following speakers on the Video SEO panel at SES Chicago:

  • Greg Jarboe, Co-Founder of SEO-PR and author of YouTube Marketing on an Hour a Day – Greg presented on the SEO benefits with YouTube, and tips for how to best optimize your video content with copy, metadata, and engaging content.
  • Paul Carff, Senior Developer Advocate, Google – Paul presented on how to set up a Google Video Sitemap to have all of your videos on your website be indexed by Google Video Search (and hopefully, to have them appear in Google's Universal Search results). Paul has also been helpful on Google's Webmaster Central video sitemaps discussion area, which I encourage you to follow and add your own questions.

What is WEBSITE Video SEO?

What Is Website Video SEO – Is It Better Than YouTube SEO? ses chicago youtube 300x199 I found most of the people in the audience were relative newbies to online video marketing, and it would be helpful for them to start with a definition of what Video SEO is, or at least, what I advocate that it should really be about. This is what I shared with the audience:

Website Video SEO is about driving more traffic through video in a search engine's search listings directly to your website, which:

  1. Gives you an additional opportunity to rank in search engines' page results, and;
  2. Provides greater visibility in those search engines' page results, with the use of a video thumbnail

When we mention search engines, we normally think of Google and YouTube, since those are the #1 and #2 search engines respectively.  However, there are other popular search engines like Yahoo, Bing, and AOL that can also work towards getting your video optimized for.

It's Like Regular SEO, But With Video

Website Video SEO is really just an extension of regular website SEO, and website publishing best practices. Back in 2002 and 2006, I was a contributor to the book Search Engine Visibility, which was about designing your website so that it could be properly indexed into Google search engine results, and how to generate positive responses with audiences which result in better prominence in search engine results page listings.  We also covered tips on how to generate inbound links from popular and authority websites. A lot of the screenshots in that book came from websites that I was involved with designing, and in the 2nd edition, I wrote about optimizing your websites with video content. (Yes, even way back then, which sounds old in web years.) So I've understood that websites are still the natural hub for where we ultimately want people to come to, whether it's a search result or what someone links to, over a video distribution site or social network site.

ALSO ►  Brofresco: YouTube Channel Review - Through the 'Reel' Wringer

Website Video SEO is like regular Video SEO, and SEO, in that it's part science and part art. One part is about understanding algorithms, keywords and placement; but it's increasingly about being social with creating compelling and engaging content on consistent basis that makes it something people want to share with others. There's a mathematical aspect, an aesthetic aspect, a psychology aspect, and an aptitude to be social (by observing, sharing, and engaging with others). Video is a medium that naturally relates to all of these elements, and the Website is the natural hub for where you benefit from the audience attention, reaction, and engagement that follows.

Video SEO & Social Media Optimization

And I do want to stress, Video SEO is very much about being social. Your video's performance in Google's and other search engine listings isn't not just about doing keywords or code or the right technical copy (which are all important of course); but it's about making both your videos and your persona appealing enough to others, so that others are promoting your videos for you. Just like with regular link popularity leading to better regular SEO, your video popularity naturally translates to better SEO as well.

YouTube SEO VS. Website Video SEO

I should make it clear that I'm actually all for optimizing your videos on YouTube and other video sharing sites, which I covered earlier on ReelSEO about the YouTube Cannibalization debate. Even though my own background and history with SEO makes it such that I feel Video SEO should first be about optimizing your own website and video on your own website, there is no doubt that YouTube has been a great opportunity and advantage to marketers (especially SEO specialists) with video content. So my one-sentence advice is: If you're doing Video SEO, Learn to optimize your website first and make that your #1 priority, and THEN do YouTube for your Video SEO.

Special thanks to: Digital Take for their videography services with the video intro, Mark Robertson (for the guts of my presentation), James Jordan for the SES Chicago Video SEO event photos, and volunteer Bryan Gerber for video coverage of my presentation at SES Chicago.

  • Chris Parrish

    I think there is importance in that statement: "...I've got the attention span of a new puppy at times!" I think we really have to remember that a lot of the time visitors to our sites have that same attention span. SEO is important yes (and I don't want to loose sight of the fact that Video SEO is the topic here), but once you get them to your site then what? A really short video can be a great way to introduce your company, and get the viewers attention better than that long page of text you've got all "SEO cherry".

    In reviewing (and pretty much bashing) a client's old site with them today, they asked me "How come our video on our site ends with a promotion for one of our competitors?" I explained that the video on their site was just embedded and actually hosted on YouTube. That's why a series of videos to browse shows up at the end of their video (one of which belonged to a competitor). For me, and for my client, that's a very compelling reason not to embed a hosted video.

    I recommended they host video's on their own site, but still post with YouTube etc. So I was very pleased to see the information here about Optimizing for both.

  • MainSpring Video

    "Learn to optimize your website first and make that your #1 priority, and THEN do YouTube for your Video SEO." - thanks for this advice, trying to wrap my brain around this process...! But to quote Nalt via Video SEO Hound "it's like putting a billboard up in your back yard... not many get to see it". Say it ain't so.

  • danatodd

    I'm still confused - all you experts seem to disagree on the topic. And don't cover your butts by saying "it depends". What does it depend on? What ranks better, a video on my site or a video on YouTube? Everyone seems to secretly believe that Google weighs its own content more, but you've pointed out many exceptions. I realize it's pretty early in the game to fully understand video SEO, but I'd like to see more of the pros and cons listed out. Frankly, as a user I'd rather see a hosted video - as long as it's on a robust CDN or server. I cannot stand to see the word "buffering..."

    • Dave Holland

      I don't believe Google favours YouTube at all. If you follow the right guidelines you can rank highly with videos hosted elsewhere. There is a lot more YouTube content indexed so it is going to rank for a wider range of search terms.

      If your site is already highly ranked for a specific phrase and you add a video that video will rank as well as the page. Basically the same principles apply as with a standard page. You will sometimes see a slight change in the SERPs as the video content trigers variations such as multiple video results but basically a video is just another element on the page. It does not magically increase rankings in web results. It may rank highly in video if there is less competition and if these results are blended then you may see a benefit over a standard page particularly for video related queries - but generally it offers no short cut to the top positions.

      What it does do is increase CTR when compared with non video results - therefore if you combine the two ( quality SEO and effective video submission you have a super powerful tool.


  • Yaniv

    Great post Grant!
    As you know I highly believe in the YouTube Video SEO cannibalization effect.
    For some odd reason Google always favors YouTube over your own site.
    By having videos associated with pages on your site you not only get higher ranked results but also gain a better CTR (Click Through Rate) on the search results. This is very dramatic as the human eye is attracted to the visual element.
    We've seen this effect across several of our deployments.

    Yaniv Axen

  • Ronnie Bincer

    (Disclaimer: I post to YouTube and don't Host my videos)
    I've watched the posted video (funny it is posted and not hosted, hmmmm! seems contrary to your presentation re. Website VSEO)... oh well, here we go:

    You speak a lot about how Website VSEO gets you more opportunity to rank in SERP. True, but... If you are already ranking for the Keyword Phrase (KWP), then you may have already used up your 2 positions in the SERP for a competitive KWP... POSTing allows for more possible positions in the SERP where HOSTing puts the videos on your own domain.

    So with a Posted video you may get more than the standard 2 listings you could normally get in SERP for a competitive KWP.... still there is major value in directing traffic via Hosting directly to your site instead of the video site (aka YouTube).

    Are you saying that you have a better chance of a Video Thumbnail in the SERP if you host vs. post your videos by way of your ability to submit a Video Sitemap?

    I get the push for hosting (that is a clear directive here on ReelSEO), but some of us don't have anywhere near the traffic on our websites as we could hope to get on YouTube, and hosting alone on our site is like Nalt says in his "Beyond Viral" book... its like putting a billboard up in your back yard... not many get to see it.

    • Ronnie Bincer

      Can you expand on your comments re. transcriptions? Do you actually add more text to the transcript than what is spoken in the video? Like adding Keyword headers? It seems like that is what you are saying in the video.

    • Dave Holland

      I agree that if you just host your videos on your site and do nothing more ( video sitemap submission aside), then you probably won't see the benefits over YouTube particularly for competitive key words.

      It's when you start combing video submission with quality SEO, on page and off page, then you start to get video thumbs and page links with thumbs which really stand out in the SERPs.

      You may not get the sheer volume of views that YouTube can deliver but remember these results are being served based on highly targeted search queries - quality of user over quantity.

      If you're clever with the phrases you target you can make life easier - "how to" tends to deliver video results more readily than "buy" for example.

      • Ronnie Bincer

        @Tim The VSEO & SEO techniques I use get me Thumbs on YouTube (esp. for less competitive phrases), but oh the pain of saying it..."the SERP link goes to my YouTube channel and not my website!" There, I said it!

        I know it would be better to get traffic to go directly to my site. But... I think the "focused" viewer - what you call "quality" viewer, will take my call to actions in my videos posted on YouTube and come to my site. The rest get stuck in YouTube distract-o-land (yeah, I made that one up).

        Some quicky examples of thumbs I get by posting on YouTube and doing my version of VSEO on my site are seen if you search in Google for: Video Thumbnail Trick, or YouTube Video Thumbnail, or Droid Phone Training Tips

        So I'm all about getting thumbnails and such, but I "need" the traffic that YouTube has to weed out the proper customers to go to my site. Of course I'd love it if YouTube would allow me to "claim" ownership of my videos, so I can somehow embed them on my site and get a link to my site via the Google SERP thumbnail... that would be sweetest, eh?

        • Dave Holland

          I hear you - I guess for the minute the best solution is to use YouTube for volume with quality videos with a strong call to action.

          We have done a lot of work with guys who have existing videos on their sites that don't have that call to action but that can be used to drive targeted traffic if indexed and optimised.

          For example google "home building inspection", "real estate text messaging", "video seo intro"

          The best result is to get the page itself to index with a thumb as apposed to just a video search result blended in. We find these get the best CTRs. - i.e Google "Dotcom seo" as apposed to "Video SEO service".


  • Ronnie Bincer

    Wow... "a Videologist" - nice word Grant.That's what u call yourself in the intro of the video. I will need to take more time to digest the content since I haven't watched it all... I've got the attention span of a new puppy at times!But I'm sure I'll have something to say.

  • Dave Holland

    Interesting that not all video platforms are able to consistently deliver video SEO. There are video platforms for whom search submission is the key differentiator, their video platforms built with SEO in mind. This makes it easy for video publishers who get all the tools under one roof.