On-page video SEO: how to optimize your video pages

1. The video should be a key focus of the page

It used to be the case that by including the relevant video metadata on the page, you could essentially ensure any page would rank in video search, and with a video rich snippet in Google universal search results. No matter how key the video was to essential user experience on that page. However, likely due to an excess of spam, a change in 2014 meant that only pages where a video is substantially the key focus are likely to be indexed.

Video above the fold

“The fold” is a fairly elastic concept in 2021. But the core principle remains that the video should be clearly visible and present in the top section of the page. The average user or bot shouldn’t have to do extra work to locate the video once it has loaded.

A large video embed

A 640 x 360 pixels embed is a reasonable default size for most websites. Also, 400 x 225 pixels (example below) is really the smallest the embed should be if you want to get it indexed in Google search.

Supporting information included

Alongside the video should appear relevant supporting information. For example, a video description, interaction counts, a title if relevant, and any appropriate links.

Example of a YouTube page where the video is the main focus
A YouTube page is a good example of a page structure where the video is the “key focus”

2. The video must be visible on the first contentful paint

The most common technical barrier to getting videos indexed and ranking is render-blocking JavaScript. This occurs when a script is implemented that needs to load before the browser can detect and load the iframe or JavaScript code for the video. Googlebot-video has a limit regarding how much JavaScript it will attempt to render. Prior testing has revealed anything longer than 5 seconds is probably abandoned. As a consequence, you need to ensure the essentials of your video embed are loaded and accessible as soon as is possible. Both for users and crawlers.

3. The video you want indexed must be the first to load on the page

With pages including multiple videos, you need to ensure the video that you want to have indexed loads first. Rather than just being the video at the top of the page. Googlebot-video will normally stop and index only the first video it comes across. Which isn’t necessarily tied to the order in which the videos appear on a page.

example of waterfall chart on webpagetest.org of the order in which your video assets load
The waterfall chart will show you simply in what order your video assets load.

4. Include the relevant Schema.org metadata via Microdata or JSON-LD

Both Google and Bing cannot yet discover the full information about an embedded video without further assistance in the form of “VideoObject” Schema.org markup, and the best way to provide that is via either microdata in the <body> of the page, or JSON-LD in the <head>. The simplest way to do this scalably is with the Yoast Video SEO plugin, but you can also automate it with some custom code if required.

5. Use the video thumbnail as the OpenGraph image

Unfortunately, on occasions where a page has one image included as the video thumbnail (thumbnailURL) within the JSON-LD or Microdata, but a different image included as the featured image using the Open Graph protocol (<meta property=”og:image” in the <head>), Googlebot-video can be confused, and on occasion end up selecting the Open Graph image rather than the stipulated video thumbnail, which can result in an image with an inappropriate aspect ratio and resolution being presented as a video thumbnail in the search results. To counter this bug, the best thing to do is just to ensure consistency across all of the metadata on the page, having just a singular featured image which is also the video thumbnail.

Add your video thumbnail as the OpenGraph image in the Facebook preview tab in Yoast SEO
Manually updating the Facebook image is the best way to ensure consistency between video-level metadata and page-level metadata.

Optional: Adding the transcript on the page

If it makes sense in the wider context of the page e.g. for a vlog, including the transcript on the page, as page copy, can be a useful addition. This transcript can provide further signals about relevancy to search engine crawlers.

Spend some time on your on-page video SEO

In this blog post, we’ve gone over the steps you can take to optimize your video pages. This doesn’t just make your video content more eligible for a great place in the search results, it also makes your videos a lot easier to watch for site visitors. So make sure to spend some time on your on-page video SEO after adding a video to a page.

Get your videos in the search results!

Our Video SEO plugin makes your videos eligible for Google’s video carousel and the Google Video search results!

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