Optimizing Video Content for Search Engines

Are your videos optimized for search engines? Now that search engines crawl for video content, the same rules that apply to optimizing Web site text now apply to video content. Key words, tags, and content are all a part of the equation that search engines will use to rank your video.

Online video viewership is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. By 2012, 62 percent of the total U.S. population and 88 percent of the U.S. online community will be watching videos on the Web, according to eMarketer. With such a large captive audience, it’s likely that advertising budgets will continue to be allotted to this medium and competition for online viewers will increase. Advertisers must focus on content to ensure that their video will be seen through the inevitable clutter.

Benefits of Optimization

The importance of SEO (define) for video can be summed up in one word: revenue. Most online video advertisements don’t generate direct revenue on their own like pay-per-view, pay-to-own, or subscription video services. Their purpose is to be “propagated across as many services and viewers as possible,” and to do that, videos must be search-engine friendly, according to video search engine Blinkx.

Marketers also need to keep close tabs on how and where their videos are posted. When a video is picked up by an aggregator, the file name, descriptions, tags, and titles should be monitored, and possibly changed, to ensure that every site displaying your video content will drive the most traffic and business to your Web site.

How to Optimize

Advertisers have two options when using online video. They can incorporate their ad into someone else’s video (watermarks, in stream, pre-roll, post-roll) or post it on its own. While placing an ad within a third-party’s video can generate a large number of impressions, the video itself is not searchable unless it’s posted on an aggregator, microsite, or Web page individually. In most cases, users don’t actively seek out advertisements; however, users do search for brand names, so marketers have the opportunity to get their video advertisements amongst relevant search results if it has its own URL, keywords, tags, and a high user rating.

The most time and cost effective manner to ensure that video content will be applicable online and rank well is to plan ahead and take the constraints of the medium into account in the production phase. Online users have shorter attention spans, more choices, and added control over what they watch than they do when using other mediums, so content is the key to keep them tuned in to your message.

New Developments

MSN has made strides in presenting video content to online browsers by including clips within search results and by grouping video content by relevance, user favorites, release dates, and video lengths. By giving users the option of searching for just video or a combination of video and text, MSN bridges the gap between video aggregators and search engines.

Worth noting: Google is experimenting with using AdWords for video content. There’s been a fair amount of negative sentiment in the blogosphere about this development because Internet users have become attached to Google’s streamlined, uncluttered layout. To appease its user-base, Google is using a still shot of the video with a plus button icon that will launch the advertisement if a user clicks on it.

YouTube, owned by Google, is also making noise with its plan to release free software tools to users that will allow them to create a YouTube player on their own Web site, enabling them to upload their own videos and search through YouTube’s extensive video database — all from within their own site. Later this year, TiVo users will also be able to search for YouTube videos through their DVR boxes.


By most accounts, video advertising capabilities will only increase and we’ll continue to see advertising budgets migrating online. A marketer’s job in this space is to create content worth watching and make sure that the people who are looking for it can find it.

Build it, tag it, optimize it, and they’ll come.

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