How to Optimise Video Files for Search Engines

Videos are becoming increasingly important for SEO. The first step, of course is to create some interesting video content that people are going to want to watch. If people like what you’ve made enough, as with text content, they will link to it.

But you also want to make it as easy as possible for your video content to be found. As with Image Alt Tags, there are ways of describing your video file textually, so that search engines can understand what your video is about.
  • Like a Title Tag, the video Title is very important so make sure you give your video a good name that describes what it is about and includes your keywords.
  • Include the word “video” in your Title. People generally tend to use the word video when searching for video content, e.g. how to repair a puncture video.
  • Don’t engage in keyword stuffing in the Title though.
  • Name the file using your keywords, e.g. fix-a-puncture.mp4.
  • Using hyphens between words is the most search engine friendly file naming format, as opposed to underscores or no spacing.
  • Naming your file in lower-case ensures no issues with Unix systems (‘Cool-Stuff-Video.flv, might be processed as ‘cool-stuff-video.flv’ by a SERP, but therefore would link to the wrong file on a Unix system. This sort of thing is rare but to be safe stick to lower case is best practice.
  • Although there are no hard and fast rules on this, file name length is best kept under 50 characters to avoid looking spammy.
  • Based on all this advice, don’t go changing the file names of existing published video files on your site, since they may already have been indexed and linked to. Just use this info as going forward advice.
  • Create a video thumbnail image and name the file using keywords. This allows you to specify the thumbnail that will be used in search engines. Make that image compelling and relevant to the keywords, and size your thumbnail at 160x120px in either png, gif or jpg format.
  • Place your video on a webpage with relevant text, in context with the video.
  • Allow people to easily embed your video on their page.
  • Allow people to easily share your video on video sharing sites.
  • Link to the video from other related pages within your site.
  • For each video, create a unique URL. Don’t display two or three videos per page. Just one per page is better for getting your video indexed.
  • Video sitemaps are something that Google themselves are encouraging webmasters to do. The Google Search team’s Principal Engineer, Matt Cutts, said: “…We are starting to look at video sitemaps more and more and I think that if you have a video site and you haven’t made a video sitemap, I would definitely recommend it. …If you make video, if you are a site owner, or a publisher, please start exploring video sitemaps.”
  • To create a Video Sitemap for WordPress, try this Google Video Sitemap Tool, or try this XML-Video Sitemap Generator.
  • The video sitemap will send Google all the info about your video, i.e. title, description, size, keywords, category, family friendly, thumbnail image, etc. When your site is crawled Google’s robots will ensure that your video complies to it’s requirements. If it does, Google  will index your video in Google Video. Then your video may also be ranked in the general search engine.