Video Search Engine Optimisation Training

This whit paper was written for a video optimisation training for a client and I’d thought I’d share it as people keep asking me about VSEO.



Youtube is the world’s second largest search engine (after Google) and growing in popularity at a near exponential rate. 90% of all videos watched online are on Youtube. When videos appear in Google “blended search” they are also disproportionately popular to click on. Youtube can promote what you do, build your reputation and drive customers to your site….but only if your video are high enough in the rankings to be seen.

Target VSEO Market and Aims

The first thing to be clear on, is who you want to view your videos and what is it that you’re videos are doing. Being popular is nice, using video strategically is business.


The Basics – Major VSEO Factors

The following factors will increase your rankings. Being in the top three is ideal as there is a drop-off after this, and another big drop-off after the first page. Being ranked outside the first page for a term is next to useless in fact.

Video Optimisation  Keywords

Keywords and phrases should be researched via the Google Adwords tool and offline by asking clients. The words you call things may not be the keywords Youtubers use. E.g. “forest” not “woodland”. A quick and easy way to look for potential keywords and see which are popular is to write the stem in the Youtube search box – e.g. typing “bushcraft” reveals “skills”, “survival” and “knife” are the most popular combinations. Pick keywords that are competitive enough to lead to high hits, but not so competitive you can’t rank for them. Single-word keywords are normally very hard to rank for.

Consider the what, where (e.g. Sussex woodland), who (names of people involved), how (adjectives like “reliable” or “cool” chainsaws), why (e.g. “shelters for survival”) and sometimes when, or keywords.

You can also use 2-3 unique keywords on all videos to increase hits from having your own videos in the recommended videos sidebar.

Title, Description and Tags

Title is the single biggest optimisation factor. Titles should include two keywords which should then be repeated near the start of the description and in the tags. The description should be as long as possible so as to get “long-tail” hits. Less keywords means you get better optimisation for those phrases but less long-tail hits.


Unlike Google, Youtube ranks videos on how many hits they already have, meaning popular videos get even more popular. Promotion off Youtube such as though newsletters, discussion boards and other social media is a good way to “kick-start” a video.

Hits can be bought through certain services though this is “black-hat” in many people’s opinion and some ways to do this can get you in trouble with Youtube. These services cost around £20 for 10,000 hits. I believe YT is wise to even the services which it allows and videos getting hits with them won’t appear in the daily most watched lists.

Likes, Favourites and Comments

Another very powerful factor in ranking is how many likes, favourites and comments a video has. Encourage people to do this with in-video annotations, responding to comments to create discussion and by asking friends/customers/etc to like. Likes and comments can also be bought. Asking each member of staff to get Youtube account (takes about 3 minutes and an e-mail) and like and comment on ten videos is a quick win here.

Video Thumbnails

YT research shows that how interesting the thumbnail is, is a major factor and whether people watch a video, so these should be picked with care. YT partners can choose their own thumbnails (others are limited to three randomised choices) which is a big advantage.

Web Links

Like with regular Google SEO external links to videos count for a lot, whether traditional anchor text links (keywords as linking text best) or as embedded players. You can pay a provider to make these quite cheaply – this is “white-hat” and 100% Youtube legal – and should be encouraged elsewhere. Link videos from you’re blog.

Subscribers and Community Interaction

Subscribers can be a significant source of hits so you should build these by promoting your channel elsewhere, through links in your videos and through “box4boxing” with other channels. Interacting with other YT community users by commenting on their channels and videos is also a very good idea. If people feel like they know you, they will like, comment and promote your videos. Build YT networks.

Cross-linking videos and Video Responses

Because most people view videos in groups links between your own videos in annotations, keywords which connect them, and uploading some videos as responses to others greatly increases hits. Video responses to your own videos are also a major optimisation factor so encourage these.

Video Subtitles

These have some optimisation impact so are worth doing.

CONTENT, length, quality and going “Viral”

Perhaps sadly, content is not king on Youtube, it is still however important. A film’s visual quality is not that important from a hits point of view, though it can make you look more or less professional. Some experts believe sound quality is more important than picture quality. Getting a video to spread exponentially and “go viral” is a notoriously tricky business. What spreads seems to be videos which are very useful, or funny, or sexy, or shocking, and not too long (under 1 minute is said to be ideal) which are first “seeded” through other mediums.

Getting on YT’s daily and weekly most watched lists ensures a video will get a massive increase in hits so this is the normal viral “tipping point”.

Youtube and Google Advertising

It is possible to pay to advertise a video on Youtube or on Google using an adwords account and making it a promoted video. This is one way to quick-start hits.

VSEO Resources


– Please feel free to call or mail me: 07762 541 855

My favourite video introduction to VSEO:


Online resources and blogs:


If you enjoyed this and found this useful please visit, subscribe and like the videos on these channels: