Get Your Videos to Rank In Search Results With Video SEO

Follow these video SEO principles to get your videos to rank and traffic to go to your site, not theirs.

April 26, 2024

Topic tags

Phil Nottingham


Austin Canary


While you might promote your videos on social media, via email, or even in paid ads, you also want folks to find your videos when searching online. So how do you do that? Add videos to your website, use video SEO to get them to rank in search results, and watch the organic traffic roll in.

Keep reading to get into the nitty-gritty of video SEO, discover the best practices for getting your videos to rank higher, and learn how to track your video SEO performance.

What is video SEO?

Search engine optimization for videos, or video SEO, is the practice of improving the visibility and ranking of your videos on search engine results pages (SERPs).

This involves providing structured data on the web page where you’re hosting the video, measuring the performance of the video page with analytics tools, and further adjusting the content of the page or video to get it to rank higher in search results.

What’s the difference between video SEO and YouTube SEO? While the goal of video SEO is to get videos hosted on your website ranking in search results, YouTube SEO is all about increasing the visibility of videos hosted on YouTube. If you want to increase traffic to your website, be sure to use video SEO techniques, not those designed for YouTube. Learn more about using Wistia vs. YouTube to host your videos.

Where do videos appear in search engine results pages (SERPs)?

Two places: web search results and video search results. Let’s explore them both!

Web search results

When videos show up in the broader web search results, they appear as either a video snippet or a featured video result, and they can also be presented with key moments.

Video snippets

A video snippet is a variation of a Google search result that’s shown as a website link with a title, video thumbnail, publish date, and sometimes a description. Google will display the highest-ranking videos in an expandable group of three or more video snippets.

When Google thinks there’s a clear and definitive answer to a search query, it sometimes highlights a video as a featured video result, which is a video snippet that has a bigger thumbnail than the others in the same list.

Video search results

On both Google and Bing, you can access the video search results from the Videos tab above the search bar. This will filter all the search results to just videos.

Video search is one of the most important places you want to rank. When folks are searching for video content on a topic, you want your video that covers the topic pretty well to appear at the top of the video results. You can make this happen by optimizing the videos you’re hosting on your site.

Let’s take a closer look at how to set up your video pages to effectively do this.

How to get your video pages indexed by search engines

Search engines like Google and Bing don’t see videos as unique indexable entities with their own URLs. Instead, they see videos as media elements within an existing page. So for a video to be discoverable by search engines, the page it’s on needs to qualify as a video page.

That means you need to provide the page with the following elements:

1. A crawlable video player

You want search engines to find the video and not just the page it’s on, so the video player needs to be crawlable. This way, search engine crawlers can see and parse the video player and discover the associated metadata like the video file and thumbnail.

A big factor here is to make sure that your video player shows up within the first contentful paint (the initial load of the page content) and that the viewer doesn’t need to take any action to load the video. Things like lightboxes and scrollers can cause issues with this, so be sure to avoid using them on video pages.

If you’re hosting your videos on Wistia and including standard Wistia embeds in-line on the page, you’re all set.

2. Video as the main content

For your page to qualify as a video page, Google needs the embedded video to be the main content on that page.

It’s because Google wants to match your site visitors' expectations when they see a video snippet. When the visitor clicks on a video result from their search page, they should be immediately taken to the video (like what would happen if you clicked on a YouTube video).

To make the video the main content of a web page:

  • Embed the video at the top of the page within the viewpoint
  • Include as little text or media as possible on the page (in addition to the title and video transcript)
  • Avoid including other videos or multiple images

If you embed the video on a copy- or image-heavy page like a blog post or product page, Google won’t consider the page a video page.

Get Inspired
It’s perfectly fine to post the same video on multiple pages on your site. It’s because Google considers videos to be page elements (like images, menus, and footers, all of which are used across websites all the time). So if you want to create a video page for a video to make it discoverable and embed that same video in a blog post or anywhere else on your site, go for it!

3. Structured data

Structured data provides search engines with the URLs for associated files (like the video file and thumbnail image) and detailed information about the video metadata such as:

  • Video title
  • Video description
  • Video thumbnail
  • Video player or media file
  • Video captions or transcript
  • Video duration
  • Video upload data

Key moments (or video chapters) are another great attribute to add to your videos, since they can provide video results that include additional “key moments” links, pointing users to specific parts of the video and allowing you to take up more real estate in the search results.

You can add this clip schema yourself — or if you’ve got your videos on Wistia, you can generate video chapters with AI.

By simply embedding a video at the top of your video page and providing a compelling title, a good description, and an eye-catching custom thumbnail, you can let Wistia take care of the rest! This includes handling all the necessary structured data for your video page, making your video SEO process a breeze.

There are three different ways to provide this data to search engines from your video page:

1. XML video sitemap

An XML video sitemap lets you store your video data outside of the web page it’s on. This is useful if you can’t update your website regularly, although it might be harder to keep the video data consistent with the page data.

2. Microdata

You can add data via microdata to the <body> of the page. By doing this, you’d need to wrap some extra information around the video embed code.

This keeps your video and structured data together and allows one embed code to handle playback and indexing. Keep in mind, though, that too much microdata can bloat HTML and slow down the page a bit, as well as make the code more complex.


Another option is to include structured data via JSON-LD in the <head> of the page. This allows the data to be included on a page when the embed code is rendered via asynchronous JavaScript.

This method doesn’t impact page loading times in any way, and you can manage this data externally.

Here at Wistia, our player uses the JSON-LD method — and when you upload a video, you don’t need to do anything because Wistia automates the process for you.

How to track video SEO performance

Now that your videos are embedded onto video pages throughout your site with rich structured data, it’s time to see if search engines are discovering and ranking them — and find out how well these videos are doing.

Let’s take a look at some tools you can use.

Google Search Console

The primary tool in your arsenal for tracking video SEO is Google Search Console. Here are three important things to measure:

  1. Indexation
  2. Structured data
  3. Traffic

Measuring indexation

The video pages report under indexing will tell you which pages have had videos successfully indexed. It’ll also list pages where a video was discovered but not indexed for a specific reason.

The most common error you’ll probably run into is “Video is not the main content of the page,” which means the page where the video is embedded doesn’t match Google’s criteria for video result eligibility. If you’re getting this error a lot, think about removing elements from the pages where videos are present and moving the video embeds higher up on those pages.

Measuring structured data

The report under Enhancements → Videos shows you the structured data associated with each of the videos that Google has discovered and allows you to drill down to see the title, thumbnail, and other data selected.

Measuring traffic

In Performance → Search Results, you can see how much traffic is being driven to your site through video search and video results in web search.

For the former, change the search type to Video and then you can see both the queries and pages that are generating clicks.

This can be further refined and segmented, so you can see queries containing certain terms or URLs within a specific subfolder, as required.

To see how much traffic you get from video results in web search, refine the results by “videos” using the search appearance tab. This will show you which pages are ranking with video results, and for which queries these enhancements are being triggered.

Google Analytics 4

Want a broader overview of how video contributes to your SEO efforts? The Organic Video default session channel group within Google Analytics is a good benchmark. This feature pulls data from various video sources, including Google Video Search and YouTube, and provides a clear picture of how well your videos are performing as an acquisition channel.

How to help your videos rank in Google

Video SEO is an ongoing process, much like keeping your video content fresh and relevant. Each plays a vital role in improving your videos' rankings in search results.

Sometimes your videos need a little tweaking to get the Google search algorithms working more in your favor. Well, we’ve got some video SEO tips for you to try out!

Optimize your titles and descriptions

The quality of the video metadata you provide matters a lot.

Give your videos (and video pages) a proper editorial title, not some gibberish you used to export the video quickly. Treat the title and description as a core piece of your SEO — it’s included in your page’s structured data, after all!

While keywords are important for SEO, the primary goal should be to create compelling titles that increase click-through rates. Focus on capturing the viewer’s interest with an engaging title that reflects the core topic, rather than just inserting keywords.

For instance, instead of a title like ’SEO Tips,' use ’Boost Your Website Traffic with These Proven SEO Strategies!' This approach makes the title more intriguing and clickable while still being relevant.

Create clickable video thumbnails

The thumbnail is the most unique — and certainly the most important — part of metadata optimization for video SEO. A great thumbnail can improve the impression-to-click rate of your video, which will increase traffic to your page and likely help it rank even better.

Make sure your thumbnail images are high-quality, eye-catching, and, most importantly, clickable. Your video may be the best one on the topic, but if folks aren’t clicking on it, it will lose its ranking fast.

You should be strategic and intentional in your video thumbnail design. Thumbnails for videos shown in SERPs tend to be small, so any text or graphics should be minimal and fill the space well. There are no one-size-fits-all guidelines for creating custom video thumbnails — different types of videos will do well with different styles.

Use video galleries

Let’s say you have multiple videos that belong together, but you want each individual video to rank in Google. That’s where video galleries can help!

Each video you put into a gallery, like Wistia Channels, gets its own URL (created using query parameters by the embed code itself). This way, it’s eligible for indexation in web search.

Get your videos found in search results with Wistia

Video SEO is the foundation for organically growing your audience with video. You want more people visiting your website and watching your videos because it leads to more qualified leads. So don’t skimp on video SEO when publishing your videos on your site.

To make video SEO a core part of your publishing process and video distribution strategy, add optimized metadata for each video, use Wistia to embed video players with the right structured data to get your video pages indexed, and follow these video SEO tips to keep improving your rankings in video search.

April 26, 2024

Topic tags

Phil Nottingham


Austin Canary


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