How to Do Video SEO for Your WordPress Site

How to Do Video SEO for Your WordPress Site

As consumer demand for video content grows, the WordPress sites you build will have to accommodate for that demand. This means creating high-quality video content, ensuring that you have enough bandwidth for it to play without issue, and placing it within prime real estate where it’s bound to get noticed on the website.

There’s also search optimization to think about.

Now, this isn’t as cut-and-dried as optimizing content written for your site or even the images uploaded to it. With those, you simply use a WordPress plugin like SmartCrawl to optimize your content for search. But, with videos, it’s a bit more complicated.

Whether you decide to self-host your video content or outsource it to video sharing platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia, your videos need to be optimized for search. The following guide will show you how you can do video SEO both within as well as outside of WordPress.

How to Do Video SEO for Your WordPress Site

There are many ways in which you can use video content on a WordPress site.

However you decide to use video on your WordPress site, you probably already decided to host the files somewhere other than your server as video content can be a serious drain on performance. But, if your videos live elsewhere, how do you optimize them for search? And is it even beneficial to have them hosted outside of WordPress and then optimize them there if search results won’t drive users directly to your site?

Ideally, this is where you want your videos to show up in search:

See how it’s not just YouTube videos that show up in Google’s Video search results? While there is nothing wrong with getting your YouTube- or Vimeo-hosted video content to rank, your goal is to get visitors on your site in as few steps as possible. To do that, you’ll need to utilize the following video SEO strategy to optimize your videos at the source as well as the surrounding content on your WordPress page.

Here is what your video SEO strategy should entail:

1. Prioritize Website SEO First

Unless you have a video that is so unique and in such high demand, the chances of that random video on your website ranking at the top of search results are pretty low without first doing major optimization work to your site. That’s not to say you can’t optimize your video content now, it just means you shouldn’t expect to see big results until your site ranks well on its own and is established as a trusted authority in search.

Use this SEO checklist to get your WordPress site ranking higher now.

2. Create the Video for the Right Reasons

Yes, video is hot right now (and will be for many years to come). However, that doesn’t mean you need to make a video just for the sake of making one. Like the rest of your website, it should serve a clear purpose. So, think about:

What is the ultimate goal of this video?

  • To improve the look of your site?
  • To increase awareness about your business?
  • To simplify the understanding of a product or process?

If you want video to rank well, it needs to stay on topic, work towards a specific goal, and deliver something that’s relevant, insightful, and helpful to users. In other words, take your time in creating video content. If it’s not share-worthy and no one finds any reason to link back to it, you’re going to struggle to get Google to notice it–on YouTube or on your website.

3. Pick the Right Hosting Platform

You have a few options to consider when it comes to hosting your WordPress video content.

There’s YouTube:


And business video hosting services like Wistia:

As you can see from the images above, video sharing platforms like YouTube and Vimeo are fairly light in terms of video optimization options. You can add a title and description and update various settings like privacy controls and translation, but that’s about it.

You also have to consider the fact that your video will be stamped with the YouTube or Vimeo logo when you embed it on your site. That’s probably not a dealbreaker, but it’s something to think about when crafting your overall professional image on the site. Then again, if you host your videos with YouTube, you’re more likely to see these videos rank right from the source as Google owns YouTube. Of course, it will take a lot of views and engagement to get that rank, but it’s something to be aware of.

Then you have video hosting services like Wistia. Platforms like these enable people to create high-quality videos with professional-looking, built-in CTAs, annotations, captions, chapters, and more without having to purchase expensive video software. This is also a great and highly affordable option if you make your own videos and plan to produce more in large quantities going forward.

Ultimately, you need to decide whether ease of use and cost outweigh the benefits of greater control and customization when hosting your video content outside of WordPress.

4. Have a Clear Call-to-Action

If you haven’t watched one of WP Beginner’s most recent videos, take a moment to at least check out the end card on this one.

Not only has WP Beginner done away with the YouTube auto-recommendation that sends viewers to videos made by other people (which is a smart move), but they’ve included a subscribe button too. This is exactly what you’ll want to do with the videos that appear on your site or YouTube channel. It removes outside distractions and creates one clear directive for your visitors to take: click here and… subscribe, buy, contact us, etc.

5. Optimize Metadata

As with image SEO, you should also optimize your video’s metadata.

  • Choose a focus keyword that not only appears in the dialogue of the video, but within the page upon which the video is found.
  • Include the focus keyword within the title and description of the video.
  • Add relevant tags–including the focus keyword–that will improve the chances of visitors finding the video on the third-party site or your own.
  • Use video schema, per Google’s guidelines. This will help inform the search engines what your video content is about. The pro version of this YouTube plugin will help you do this for embedded videos.

When you’re done optimizing your video metadata at the source and on the site, create a separate sitemap for your WordPress site’s video content and submit for indexing.

6. Add a Video Transcript to the Page

Rand Fishkin of Moz has created a cool weekly series called Whiteboard Fridays. In this series, he shares a video in which he discusses a hot topic related to SEO and then provides a written transcript below the video.

This is a really nice touch for two reasons.

For one, the video transcript is a convenient alternative for anyone who’s not in a position to watch the video (say, if they’re on public transportation or sitting in a cubicle at work), so it automatically improves the user experience. Secondly, the video transcript is helpful for SEO. So, even if Google can’t “listen in” on the video, you’re providing the entire script for it–which includes your focus keyword–on the website.

7. Choose the Right Thumbnail

Your blog posts’ featured images aren’t the only ones that need extra love. Your video content needs them, too. And while a video thumbnail might not directly influence your video SEO, it will do so indirectly as a well-chosen and well-framed thumbnail will get more views than a poorly chosen one.

In addition, think about using a video thumbnail as the featured image on your posts, pages, and emails. If you do, be sure to slap the Play triangle button on top of it. This lets visitors know that the following page has video content.

Wistia’s A/B tests compared basic image thumbnails versus “play” video thumbnails and showed that the video thumbnails increased clicks by over 21%.

8. Don’t Forget About the Rest of the Page

If you’re really trying to get your WordPress page to rank for the video content and not the YouTube source, then you need to pay close attention to the rest of the page. Take time crafting the content on the page to support the video.

This means that the same focus keyword that appears in that video’s metadata should appear throughout the page. The content of the page should also directly relate to the content of the video. Your visitors may have come here to watch a two-minute video, but you can bet they’ll be disappointed if they encounter an otherwise blank page or one that’s unrelated to the topic at hand.

Want to see good example of this? Check out any of WPMU DEV’s video tutorials pages:

Also, pay attention to the structure of the page. Google is picky about how they rank content on a page when there are multiple options to choose from. For instance, when I talked about internal link building, I noted that Google will usually give priority to the link that appears closest to the top of the page. The same goes for videos if you include more than one on the same page. So choose wisely.

9. One Video, One Page

On a related matter, you may want to avoid placing multiple videos on the same page altogether or placing the same video across different pages. There are a couple reasons to stick to this rule. First, is the aforementioned Google ranking preference. If you don’t want “secondary” video content to be ignored by the search engines, give each video its own dedicated page.

Another reason is because using the same video on multiple pages of your website creates a sort of internal competition for search ranking. For instance, let’s say you have a video about how to animate a button in WordPress. You place it on your Animation services page. You also place it on your home page and within one of your recent blog posts for good measure. Unless that video is optimized differently in each instance (which you shouldn’t do), then you’ve created three competing pages for search engines to rank.

10. Promote the Video Everywhere

Until your site or YouTube channel has enough authority to organically drive traffic to your videos, you’ll have to do some promotional work to get you there. The more interest you can drum up online and the more genuine engagements you can get with it, the more attention Google will pay your video content.

Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Promote your video content–including sales landing pages, product how-tos, new additions to your portfolio, etc.–across all your marketing platforms.
  • Create a marketing strategy around building the number of video channel subscribers you have in addition to your on-site marketing efforts.
  • Clearly label any blog post, newsletter, or social media post containing video content with “Video” in the headline.
  • Consider using pay-per-click advertising for your video content until it naturally falls at the top of search.

Wrapping Up

As visitors’ attention spans grow shorter, you’ll find that video content is especially beneficial in keeping engagement high on a WordPress site. The only problem you then have to deal with is finding a way to get visitors to the site to discover that you have video content. This is why video SEO needs to be part of your overall WordPress SEO strategy.

Over to you: When you optimize a WordPress site for search, do you handle different types of content (i.e. copy, video, and images) separately or do you do it all at once?
Brenda Barron
Brenda Barron Brenda Barron is a freelance writer from Southern California. She specializes in WordPress, tech, business and founded WP Theme Roundups. When not writing all the things, she's spending time with her family.