How to Rank Videos on Google with Your Own Site

There are a lot of great guides on “how to rank videos on Google” - but they are mostly on optimizing YouTube videos. By ranking a YouTube video (or a video hosted on another hosting platform) on Google, you’ll send the traffic to that hosting platform. And then the big question is: will your user visit your website after watching the video, or will they stick around to watch more? (With hosting platforms continuously suggesting other videos to watch and autoplaying the next one in line, I bet it’s the second).

Showing as a video result on Google with your own website doesn’t necessarily mean you have to self-host your videos - also for embedded videos, your website can appear as a video rich result. With the following video SEO steps I will explain how to rank videos on Google with your own website.

How to Record the Perfect Video for SEO

Google can trigger video results to show up for any query, as long as there is a video about it and Google thinks that showing a video as a result makes sense. The types of video Google especially likes to show results for, are (1) how-to’s, (2) reviews, (3) tutorials, (4) anything fitness and sports related, and (5) entertaining, funny things.

Knowing this, you dive into the keyword tool. What do you want to make a video about? Fill your topic in the tool and discover what people like to know. How people search for your topic - and ‘if’ people search for your topic.

video seo keyword research
video seo keyword research

Then start thinking of your goal. What do you want to achieve with your video? Do you want to educate your users, inspire, or entertain them? If it's to educate: teach your users new skills or knowledge via how-to’s, tutorials, unboxing videos, or product reviews. If it’s to inspire: motivate your users to take action using artistic videos, brand videos, presentations, or interviews. And if it’s to entertain: make your users laugh through funny advertisements, comedy sketches, or parodies. According to that, you write your script. (Define your core content marketing strategy for your video).

When recording, make sure your lights are good, your sound quality is good, and following: your editing skills are good. (Remember, you have to compete with billions of other videos, so make your video worth watching). Though recording the perfect video may not be easy, it’ll surely help you in your rankings eventually.

STEP 1: Use Video SEO

Video recording, editing and exporting: DONE.

Now that the video file is on your computer, you should change the video file name to a more descriptive one. Though Google can’t watch your video, it can read your video’s file name to understand what it’s about. What’s best, is to change the video file name to your primary keyword. If your keyword is: “how to cut an avocado”, change your video file name to: how-to-cut-an-avocado.MOV. If your video is uploaded on the hosting platform already, that’s ok - no need to re-upload the video. You may continue with the steps below, or if inapplicable: go to step 2.

(The following steps are for videos hosted on a hosting platform such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Dailymotion).

By using video SEO, your initial aim is to improve your rankings in the search engine of where your video is hosted, to get more traffic to your video page, and to grow your number of video views; subscribers, interactions, and comments likewise. Though ranking high on a hosting platform does not guarantee a high ranking on Google, it does help Google to understand more about your video.

Video title: go for a good, snappy and cathy video title - but what’s important here is that your title is descriptive and includes keywords.

Video description: the first couple of lines are your most valuable ones - this is what your users see first, before clicking the ‘read more’ button. Use those first few lines to really introduce your video to the audience and try to grab their attention. The rest of the description you can then use to write about your video in more detail, and to do your own brand-promotion: link out to your website, social media channels, or other pages.

Video tags: (won’t directly help with ranking on Google). Adding tags will help you to rank your video on the hosting platform itself. Besides, they do connect other videos with similar tags to show ‘up next’ - and it could help to increase video views, when that next video is yours.

Video transcripts & captions: hosting platforms introduced closed captions (CC, transcripts, or subtitles) to benefit people with hearing difficulties and those who speak other languages than the one in your video - and these captions, are crawlable by Google. If the keywords you want to rank for are in your CC (meaning: you spoke your keyword out-loud in your video) then wow; the chances of your video ranking on Google just became a whole lot better.

Video thumbnails: (won’t directly help with ranking on Google). When your video has a nice thumbnail image, the chances that someone will click on your video snippet will be more likely. Especially important for mobile: here, your video title and thumbnail are the only thing a searcher sees when it does show up on Google.

(For a full explanation on how to optimize your YouTube videos and channel, check our detailed YouTube SEO guide for best practices, tips, and tricks).

STEP 2: Add The Video to Your Site

When you want to rank on Google with your video, it’s actually the web-page where you’ve uploaded your hosted (2.1) or self-hosted (2.2) video you are trying to rank. What’s important here, is to give each video a page of its own. It could be a dedicated page, such as a landing page; or a topical page, such as a blog post.

(2.1) If your video is hosted on a hosting platform, use the embed code to add your video to the page. (To embed a video in HTML, use the <iframe> code. On most platforms you can get this code by clicking share > embed).

(2.2) If your video is self-hosted, make sure that your video file is supported by Google. Google supports the following types: .3g2, .3gp2, .3gp, .3gpp, .asf, .avi, .divx, .f4v, .flv, .m2v,, .m3u8, .m4v, .mkv, .mov, .mp4, .mpe, .mpeg, .mpg, .ogv, .qvt, .ram, .rm, .vob, .webm, .wmv, .xap

STEP 3: Apply On-Page SEO Techniques

Because your video is uploaded or embedded on an ordinary page, you are going to apply ordinary on-page SEO techniques - just like you’d do for any other page on your site.

Think about adding your keywords to the URL slug, to your title tag, and meta description. When your video is the focus of the page, mention this in your title tag and/or meta-description as well, eg. “How to Cut an Avocado into Slices [Video]”. Tip: adding the word ‘video’ will help you to rank on Google for video search queries - most likely even within the top 10.

STEP 4: Structure the Page and Add Content

The position of the video on a page is important. Ideally, you place it near the top of the page, and you make it big; it’ll show that the video is the focus of the page.

Right above the video you write a small introductory piece about the video or the topic. With this, your visitors will understand soon enough if this video is what they’re looking for, what they can learn from it, and whether or not the video is going to answer their questions. But it’s not only for your visitors - by adding content to your page, Google will also get a better clue of what your video is about. Within your content use your keywords (plus keyword variations and related keywords), and also add your keywords in the H1-tag, and the alt-text of an image.

video seo content and position
video seo content and position

STEP 5: Add a Video Transcript

Adding transcripts are great for SEO as (1) Google can crawl the transcripts to understand more about the topic and relevancy, and (2) not everyone prefers watching a video; by adding a transcript on your page, you can serve both video-based and text-based content attracting visual learners as well as readers.

video seo content and transcription
video seo content and transcription

You can think of transcribing the video as a written summary of the video’s content, or format it like a blog post. (Take a look at how Moz does it for its ‘Whiteboard Friday’ videos: It works perfectly as a standalone blog post as well).

STEP 6: Use Structured Data (Video Schema Markup)

Structured data helps Google to learn more about your video. With structured data (“VideoObject” markup), you let Google know what the name of your video is, its description, the thumbnail image URL that belongs with it, its upload date - and these information pieces Google needs to display your video as a rich snippet for your website in the SERPs.

(Example of a basic code with the required elements. You’ll place this code in the page’s HTML).

<script type="application/ld+json">
 "@context": "",
 "@type": "VideoObject",
 "name": "How to cut an avocado",
 "description": "Wondering how to cut an avocado? Here's a step by step guide and video that shows you how to cut avocado slices and the best method for avocado pit removal.",
 "thumbnailUrl": ""],
 "uploadDate": "2019-02-14",

The more markup properties you add, the better Google understands your video, and the more information will be shown in your snippet. (For example how long its duration is or the number of times the video has been watched). Check Google’s video markup guidelines for required, recommended and optional “VideoObject” markup properties.

Definitions of the Video Markup Properties


The title of the video.


The description of the video.


A URL pointing to the video thumbnail image file. (Image must be in .jpg, .png, or. gif format; and 60px x 30px, at minimum).


The date the video was first published, in ISO 8601 format. (yyyy-mm-dd).

STEP 7: Submit a Video Sitemap

If Google crawls your website regularly, it will surely discover and index your videos eventually - but with a video sitemap you can fasten the process.

In your video sitemap you provide extra bits of information about your videos on your website. In fact, it contains similar information you’d also noted down in your structured data*; video title, description, and thumbnail URL. Google suggests up to 19 different tags that you can include in the video sitemap, of which 7 tags are required.

(Example of a video sitemap with the required tags. Showing one page, hosting one video).

<urlset xmlns="" 
 <video:title>How to cut an avocado</video:title>
 <video:description>Wondering how to cut an avocado? Here's a step by step guide and video that shows you how to cut avocado slices and the best method for avocado pit removal.</video:description>

You can replace the <video:content_loc> with the <video:player_loc>. In that case, you’ll use the following tag:


The sitemap must begin with an opening <urlset> tag and end with a closing </urlset> tag, and for each video you’d like to rank for you complete the process from <url> to </url>. Check Google’s video sitemaps guidelines for required, recommended and optional sitemap tags. Once created, you can submit your video sitemap to Google Search Console; in the same way, as you’d submit a normal sitemap. Note: In one sitemap, you may add no more than 50,000 URLs that contain videos.

* IMPORTANT: when using both structured data and video sitemap, be sure that your data is consistent in both places.

Definitions of the Video Sitemap Tags


Parent tag.


A URL on your site, containing the video.


Parent element. (Includes all information about a single video on the page specified by <loc>).


A URL pointing to the video thumbnail image file.


The title of the video.


The description of the video. (Must match description on webpage).

<video:player_loc> (or <video:content_loc>)

A URL pointing to a player for a specific video.

<video:content_loc> (or <video:player_loc>)

A URL pointing to the actual video media file.

STEP 8: Gain Video SEO Backlinks

Backlinks are one of the strongest ranking factors. When someone links to your video or the page your video is on, Google takes a look at the page rank of that particular website - when the page rank is high, the more valuable the backlink is for you. (And though Google’s search algorithm often changes, backlinks always remain one of the most important factors). However: gaining (strong) backlinks isn’t always easy.*

What you can do to get backlink is: email bloggers who’d might be interested in your video - and if they are, you may get a couple of backlinks in return. Write on online forums where you talk about the video and share the link to your page - this alone might generate some traffic and perhaps a backlink. You could even add your video to online directories or social bookmarking sites, write guest posts where you add your video, and post it on your own social profiles. It’ll increase the chances of your video being found (and reshared).

* Whatever you do, never buy backlinks. Buying backlinks is against Google’s policies.

Once people land on your page where they find the video, make sure that the page is easily shareable by adding bold social sharing buttons. Though social shares are not a ranking factor, people might find your video faster and perhaps link to the video on their own websites.

Important Notes & Final Tips

  • Make sure that Googlebot can crawl your video pages. Your video should be hosted on a publicly available page; to watch the video, no login is required, and the page shouldn’t be blocked by robots.txt, robots meta tag, or noindex).
  • After watching an embedded YouTube clip, you most likely see other videos that YouTube suggests you to watch. In the past you had the option to prevent showing “other related videos” at the end, but that option has been removed. If you don’t want to show suggested videos, there is a way to work around it by adding a code to your website.
  • The information you noted in the video sitemap and video schema markup should be consistent with the video content itself.

Your Video on Google Search, Google Video and Google Images

Once you’ve done all the steps, your video can show on each one of the search services owned by Google; Search, Video and Images.

On Google Search

With just the video thumbnail and the link, your video will have a basic appearance on Google. As soon as you start providing more information, Google is able to also show this along with your video snippet. Think of extra things like the video length, auto-playing the video preview, the video date, the ability to restrict your video showing up in certain countries or on devices, and more.

New: your video results on Google Search are becoming even more valuable to the users, now that Google is able to show timestamps below your video result - sort of a search function within video content. (At the moment the “in this video” feature only works for YouTube videos (use Clip structured data and make sure to check best practices). If you’re interested in adding timestamps to non-YouTube videos, fill this form).

On Google Video

Good thing: if your video shows up on the Google Search results, it’ll also be showing up on Google Video search. The only difference between Google Video and Google Search, is that Google Search includes other types of content as well, whereas Google Video only returns video results.

On Google Images

By marking up your video content with structured data, your video results can also appear on Google Images. Structured data enables a video badge to be shown. But note: it shows only on mobile devices, and (as it seems) works only for YouTube videos. (There is no statement made by Google that non-YouTube videos can’t be shown on Google Images, however it has yet to be spotted).

Post date: 24 Jan 2020

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