Video SEO: Google’s 5 Best Practices

Video SEO: Google's 5 Best Practices

If you have ever made a video, you know that it takes time and effort to make one worth watching. The last thing you want after putting in that time and effort is to see that your video is not getting any views. 

The good news is that if you have posted a video and it’s not drawing any traffic, there is still hope thanks to video search engine optimization (SEO). By incorporating video SEO tactics, you can add value to your existing videos as well as give your future videos the best possible shot of getting ranked. 

In this article, we will cover what video SEO is, why you should use it to make your content shine, and the five best practices Google suggests for optimizing your video. 

What is Video SEO?

Video SEO is the process of optimizing the videos on your website to be indexed and ranked on search engine result pages (SERPs) for relevant keyword searches. 

If you are new to SEO, check out our SEO for Beginners – A Comprehensive Guide.

Much like typical SEO, there are multiple different ways you can improve your video SEO and the chances of your video being ranked. We will explore the best methods for doing so later. 

Why Use Video SEO?

The short answer for why you want to incorporate video SEO into your SEO strategy is simple: it increases traffic. 

Not only can utilizing video SEO help drive traffic to individual videos, but it can also help increase your overall website traffic which will improve where your site lands in the search engine results. 

Google’s 5 Best Practices for Video SEO

By 2022, video streaming and downloading is expected to account for 82 percent of all internet traffic

So it makes sense that as global online video consumption continues to grow, Google is working on ways to pull the best video content from a diverse range of sources across the web. Google’s goal is to make it easy for website owners to get their videos indexed and ranked on Google.

That’s why on March 17, 2021, Google updated its video SEO best practices to help users optimize their videos for Google Search and Discover.

Below are Google’s top five tips for video search engine optimization.

Make Videos Available On The Web

People can’t engage with something if they don’t know it’s there. That’s why the first step you need to take when optimizing your videos for search engines is to ensure that your videos are available on the web. 

For Google to be able to crawl and index your videos, each video must be available on a publicly accessible web page. The page must be open to the public and one that isn’t blocked by robots.txt or noindex metadata.

You can’t expect a video to rank in the SERPs if it is unpublished or set to private. 

Provide Structured Data

Once you have made your videos accessible to the public, the next step is to provide structured data for them. 

Structured data is an important part of how search engines crawl your website. Think of it as a way to organize some of the information on your site to make it easier for search engines to understand.

If you aren’t familiar with structured data or how to use it, check out Structured Data Markup for Beginners.

As it relates to video, with structured data you can provide a video description, detail the length of the video, identify the video author, and more.

When providing structured data, be sure that any information you use is consistent with the actual video content. When adding structured data, make sure to use unique thumbnails, titles, and descriptions for each video on your site.

By providing structured data for video, you have some control over what information Google crawls and indexes for your videos. 

Include High-Quality Thumbnails

You might think that if you produce a solid video, the visual element of your work is done, but that’s not true. 

If you want your videos to rank in the SERPs, they are also going to need high-quality thumbnails that give search engines and potential viewers an idea of what the video is about. 

Without a valid thumbnail image, the video may not be indexed.

Submit a Video Sitemap

In general, sitemaps are a protocol that allows the webmaster for a website to inform Google and other major search engines about URLs on a website that are available for crawling. 

A video sitemap is similar, but is a sitemap with additional information about video hosted on your pages. By creating a video sitemap, you help Google find and understand the video content on your site. This can be especially helpful when your site has content that was recently added or that might escape Google’s usual crawling mechanisms. 

Make Video Content Files Accessible

The last step to optimizing your video for SEO is to ensure all of the video’s content files are accessible on the web. 

Doing this gives Google the ability to understand the video contents and enable features like video previews and key moments.


Like a lot of things on the internet, video SEO is continuously evolving. Lucky for us, Google keeps us abreast of these changes and tells us how to make them work in our favor. 

Knowing what current best practices are and how to apply them to your video is a great way to give your videos a leg up over your competitors. 

Full details on how to optimize your video for SEO can be found in Google’s updated video best practices guidelines. If you’d rather watch a video than read through the updated guidelines, you can also watch Google’s Lightning Talk on video SEO where they cover the same points. 

New to SEO and not sure where to start? Check out our SEO Getting Started Guide.

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