5 Video SEO Basics You Should Know

You’ve likely heard plenty about the important role that video can play in a content marketing effort. By the same token, you probably have an SEO strategy for your company too. You may also have wondered: how do the two intersect?

If you’re interested in making your company’s video content contribute positively to your overall search rankings, there are some simple steps you can take.

By focusing on quality and engaging with some technical basics, you should be able to make some big strides when it comes to video search engine optimization. 

Read on for five video SEO basics you should know. 

5 video SEO Basics You Should Know

1. Make high-quality content

You might think this goes without saying, but there’s only so much “optimizing” that can be done if the underlying content is subpar. It’s worth keeping this in mind so you can target your resources wisely.

Make sure you’ve invested enough time and energy (and money) to produce the right kind of video content before going all-in on video SEO.

One easy place to start is production. Say you’re making a training video, but one you’d like to have some SEO upside beyond your company. You don’t need to invest in a lot of graphical complexity, but you should make sure you’ve met some basic benchmarks:

  • The video should be in focus.
  • The audio should be clear.
  • You should cut anything unnecessary.

It can be worth investing in some outside help if you’re looking for more extensive advice on a high-production video.

Keep in mind, though, that you’ll likely want a mix of different levels of production in the videos you produce. 

video seo basics

2. Make content that’s “activating”

Another aspect of “quality” you need to consider is the strategy you take with your video content. What are you trying to accomplish with it?

Here, you can take some pointers from some of the highest-stakes video content out there: Super Bowl ads. 

Just about the pinnacle of advertising real estate expense, companies invest a remarkable amount in these spots. According to a study described in Harvard Business Review, understanding the reaction of consumers is key to predicting a video’s success.

What do successful ads have in common? Videos that engendered a strong emotional response got shared the most. The particular kind of emotion in play here are the so-called “activating emotions,” whether positive or negative.

Sadness and disgust are both negative emotions, for example, but the first makes you curl up in a ball, while the second makes you want to do something. Disgust is activating, sadness isn’t.

You probably don’t want to spend time and money planning to gross out your potential customers, so what does this mean for you?

Don’t just focus on making your customers feel good, make sure you “fire your customers up” and create content that’s exciting, inspirational, or delightful.

video seo

3. Make content that responds to “video intent”

Ok, so maybe you have a great idea for an 11-part video series on the best uses for your company’s line of wrenches. This may not sound inspiring or delightful, but it could still result in some optimal video content that improves your search ranking.

Why? Because those videos could be designed to answer searches with “video intent.”

For all SEO, you want to spend energy on ranking for keywords that have actual search traffic. With video, you want to design content that Google and other search engines can see as corresponding to searches with video intent, i.e., a search which makes someone want to see a video rather than read something.

Some of this is intuitive—a guide to selecting the right wrench size would probably work better as a video than a text file—but you can also dig into specialized SEO tools if you’re interested in getting under the hood a bit more.

4. Optimize your video (as you make it)

Now that you’ve got a high-quality video planned—maybe it activates some positive emotions in the viewer, or maybe it seeks to educate and answer some searcher intent—how do you make it work for you? 

One strategy is to keep some features of Google’s “search engine results page” (SERP) in mind while you create your content. Take the “suggested clips” feature as an example.

You can make sure your video uses straightforward language with plenty of active verbs (“measure the bolt so you can choose the right wrench for your project”).

If you eliminate tangents and focus on instructions, Google’s algorithms will have an easier time processing what you’re saying. You should also show what you’re describing as you describe it—but you probably knew that already.

5. Optimize your video (after it’s done)

There are some other steps you can take to optimize your video after you’ve completed it.:

  • Include timestamps: To appear on Google’s SERP through the “key moments” feature, include well-labeled timestamps. Google automatically looks through YouTube descriptions for these, so be sure to choose the times accurately and provide a useful label. 
  • Pick a good thumbnail: You want an image for your video that gets a searcher’s attention. Make sure it’s the right aspect ratio (Google shows thumbnails in 16:9), that the image actually shows what’s in your video, and include some descriptive text for good measure. 
  • Get your closed captions right: When you are using YouTube, the service will automatically add closed captions to your videos. This is great for accessibility and can help with your search results but only if the captions produced are accurate. By ensuring your captions accurately reflect what’s being said, you can increase engagement with people who rely on captions and also help Google’s algorithm process it better at the same time.

You’ve likely seen successful videos doing all of these things already, and now you know why!

Video SEO Basics: Conclusion

These five basic pieces of advice on video SEO should help you whether you’re antsy to show off a wrench, a new method of artisanal candle making, or share the launch of a new app.

Whatever your business, give these tips a try to make sure that you get the most out of your video content. 

As always, you can look into professional video services if you have other aspects of your company’s operations to focus your attention on. Either way, it’s always good to have a basic understanding of something that should be an important aspect of your business’s marketing strategy.


  1. “10 Rules for Video Marketing & SEO Success,” Source
  2. “5 SEO Tips for Videos: How Google Ranks Them & How to Optimize,” Source
  3. “Want Your Ad to Go Viral? Activate These Emotions,” Source
  4. “Video SEO: How to Rank YouTube Videos on Google,” Source
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