August 11, 2016

5 Easy Steps to Optimize Your Wistia Video for SEO

Phil Nottingham

Marketing

Here at Wistia, we’ve worked hard to ensure that our embed codes automatically optimize the videos on your site for search engines.

With most other video platforms, you have to manually append schema.org markup to your videos or create a video sitemap by hand. At Wistia, we do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to video SEO (search engine optimization), so that you don’t have to.

Our video SEO feature uses JSON-LD to inject schema.org markup into the head of a page, making all videos crawlable and indexable for Google.

If you embed a Wistia video on your page, you’re already doing most of the work to optimize for video SEO. If you want to further affect your traffic acquisition, there are 5 simple steps that you need to take when uploading, customizing, and embedding your videos.

Step 1: Title your videos properly

The name of your video is included as the video title in the structured data (example below), so make sure to rename your videos once they’ve been uploaded.

Remember that the title should reflect the specific content of the video, not just replicate the title of the page the video is embedded on, so ideally pick something simple, relevant, and compelling. You don’t need to worry too much about including keywords or anything like that (Google is smart enough to understand synonyms these days), but equally, there is no video title less SEO-friendly than "Sequence-1.mov".

As a general rule, I think it’s best practice to retitle your videos as soon as you’ve uploaded them, which you can do using the "edit" button to the right of the filename.

Step 2: Upload a compelling thumbnail

Your video’s thumbnail will catch the attention of your audience when they’re scrolling through search results, and it can mean the difference between success and failure with video SEO.

Think of your thumbnail like a movie poster. It’s a static advertisement for the video itself, and its job is to encourage people to click through and press play. It doesn’t have to be an actual frame from the video itself, it just has to be an exciting and honest reflection of the contents of the video.

Moz has done a fantastic job of this in recent years with their Whiteboard Friday series. Check out the image below – this isn’t actually a screenshot from a video, but rather an orchestrated photograph designed to advertise a video about voice search.

There aren’t any hard and fast guidelines for creating compelling thumbnails - a lot depends on the type of video you’re creating. However, there are a few rules of thumb (get it?) to bear in mind:

  • Make sure whatever you’re showing is visible at 116 x 65 pixels. Your image will be shrunken down to this resolution in the search results, and as such, it’s imperative that the thumbnail is compelling even when thumb-sized.
  • Screenshots are bad. There is nothing interesting about seeing a frame from a screencast reduced to a tiny image. It won’t stand out on a search engine results page, and therefore won’t help you acquire more traffic. Come up with something more creative and interesting to advertise the value of what your video is offering
  • Faces are good. Humans tend to respond well to other human faces. Expressive faces, prominent in the frame, tend to work well.
  • Heed the rule of thirds. Video thumbnails are no different in practice from other images, and obeying conventional wisdom with regards to framing will help to give you an attractive, eye-popping image.

To replace the thumbnail on your video, head into the customize panel and select "Upload a new image" under Appearance.

Step 3: Use an inline embed

Wistia offers two basic types of embed: inline and popover. If video SEO is a priority for you, make sure to use the inline embeds in all instances, rather than popover embeds, which make use of lightboxes.

We’ve found that Google tends to index popover embeds far less often than the inline alternatives, and this is likely because popover embeds actually need to be clicked in order to trigger the JavaScript delivering the video.

Either of the two inline embed types (standard and fallback) work equally well for SEO.

The standard embed is entirely AJAX based, which makes it faster, but the fallback, iframe-based embed can be the preferable option for certain CMSs.

When you’ve selected the embed type that’s best for you, make sure the box marked "SEO Metadata" is selected, which will ensure that structured data is injected into the page where you embed the video. Inversely, if for whatever reason you don’t want your video indexed in search, unselect this box.

Step 4: Make sure the video you want indexed appears first on the page

Google typically indexes only one video per page. If you’re including multiple videos on a page, it’s unlikely that the search engine crawlers will recognize and parse more than the first video.

This fact shouldn’t radically change your strategy, but it’s something to bear in mind when designing and planning the pages your videos will live on.

Step 5: Avoid funky JavaScript (unless you really know what you’re doing)

The most common reason why video SEO fails to work is that Google can’t find or read the videos on your page. If you’re building entire sites with angular.js or using other JavaScript libraries to deliver page content, as opposed to just HTML and CSS, then the video can get buried under multiple layers of JS. This translates to Googlebot video never finding your video.

It’s not the end of the world if you are restricted to a site based on a JavaScript framework (check out this guide for some advice regarding how to handle it), but just be conscious that an atypical build can require some more technical work in order to get video SEO functioning properly.

FAQs on optimizing Wistia embeds

Q: Do I need to use the yoast video SEO plugin, or any other video SEO plugin for Wistia videos on WordPress?

A: No, you don’t. Wistia automates what all of these plugins do for you. It probably won’t cause you any issues if you are using a video SEO plugin with Wistia, but it’s entirely unnecessary.

Q: How can I optimize Wistia embeds if I also want the video on YouTube?

A: The process doesn’t really differ, but just be mindful of cannibalizing your website traffic by driving traffic to YouTube instead. Make sure you track your performance carefully to ensure YouTube isn’t causing you more harm than good. One thing you can do to decrease the risk of cannibalization is to give your videos very different titles in each location (on-site and YouTube).

Q: Do I need to include video tags?

A: No. Much like with meta tags at a page level, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Google actually pays attention to these.

Mailing list sign-up form

Sign up to get Wistia’s best
and freshest content.

More of a social being? We’re also on Instagram and Twitter.