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Video Optimization: Improving Rankings for Video Search

VideoRank or Video SEO is a relatively new field since Google's acquisition of Youtube in 2006. It's also a very complicated matter since video and text (and images for that matter) can all be separate and/or unified with each other. In other words, ranking a video or any other form of media when a user performs a video search will yield very different results than a text search, but they are still very related. The text surrounding a video can affect the VideoRank and vice versa. Videos can affect text ranks, image ranks, and so on, but to varying degrees.

This page will discuss how to maximize your video exposure and rank by optimizing everything around it (including the video itself). It will also assess the differences between self-hosted videos and the use of third party plugins, particularly Youtube. From a marketing standpoint, using 3rd parties will yield more beneficial results (generally) due to more exposure, however a purist in the field of Web Development and SEO might want to opt for self-hosted videos and use a 3rd party platform as a supplement only.

Page Content
Metadata and Page Details
Metadata and Page Details
Creator: Devin Peterson
Date: Created 01/02/2014
Subject: Videos, YouTube, Vimeo, Media Ranking
Publisher: DNM Int'l
Peer Review:
Citation: Peterson, D. (2014), "Video Optimization: Using Video Analysis for Document Ranking", Retrieved , from

Video and the Web

One of the most important aspects of achieving video rankings is simply what 'player' is being used to display the video. There are several different video hosts to choose from, each with their own benefits. The three biggest video hosts include YouTube, Wistia, and Vimeo but there are tons more like Facebook, Metacafe and DailyMotion.

The quality of playback and UX of each player is open to debate, but there is one host that leverages an extreme advantage in terms of search compared to any other host. That is YouTube, simply because it is owned by Google. YouTube itself is said to be the second largest 'search engine' in the world. Therefore, using youtube video hosting can provide a lot of value to your videos in terms of pure search volume. However, that doesn't have to stop you from using other web hosting services in addition, but it does make sense to only apply one "embedding" on your website. So what's the optimal route and how can you take advantage of each video host? HTML5 has also made it possible to improve video rankings by 'marking up' content on your page that is associated with your embedded videos. We'll discuss the use of HTML5 elements later.

Test Video

Video description

How To Host Your Videos

There are essentially 2 ways to display video on your webpage:

  1. Host the Video Yourself (via your web server)
  2. Use a 3rd Party Plugin (Youtube or Vimeo)

This is a very important consideration and will have pros and cons in each spectrum. Perhaps these methods of video embedding will shed some light on the matter.

Using Videos on 3rd Party Platforms

There are easily hundreds and probably thousands of reputable video hosting websites out there. However, it really only makes sense to consider a small handful as viable choices to host your video content. For the most complete list of video hosts I shall refer you to a Wikipedia page displaying a large list of video hosts, even though I hate linking out to Wikipedia, they already have enough PageRank...

Titles and Descriptions

Should follow similar rules as using the title element and meta description

Measuring User Engagement

The usual engagement metrics are considered here. Sharing, views, time viewed, percentage viewed, returns.

Using Annotations and Captions

Annotations and captions are a GREAT way to fill your video with relevant keywords to maximize your hit potential. It's also a great way to engage users and improve the experience of viewers by providing useful information. With annotations you can provide useful markups, extra tidbits of information and list resources. Captions will allow you to provide captioning for what is be depicted or spoken in the video, this provides another means for a crawler to decipher what a video is about.

Sharing and Embedding

The benefit of using 3rd party plugins is that it makes it very easy for other webmasters to embed your video on their own website. Although you may feel it infringes your copyright rules, it is a great benefit when others embed your video.

Using HTML5 Markup

Just like a self hosted video, you'll want to provide semantic markup in the form of appropriate html5 tags and schema.

Page Content and Surrounding Text

Other information on the same webpage as the video is subject to analysis in order to further decipher the content of the video and the relevant topics and keywords. Although the metadata such as title of the video, descriptions, annotations and other mark ups, should provide sufficient information for determining video content, surrounding text can further enhance the relevance, especially if it matches or is similar to the provided metadata.

Video Host and Source Information

The Video Ranking Function

SEO "Expert" Opinion

Common Questions

Are There Duplicate Content Risks When It Comes to Video Content?

Probably not at the moment, but one day it is likely.

Should I Use YouTube or Vimeo?

You should upload the video to all platforms regardless of your intention, as long as your goal is to acquire many views. How it's hosted on your site will depend on a few things, such as whether or not you want to "monetize" your video views. If you wish to display ads on your video for the purpose of monetization, then Youtube is the ideal path. If you wish to ignore ads and provide a better user experience, then I recommend using raw html5 and self-host the video but strategically connect it with your other platforms. More will be discussed about this later.