SEO – Video search optimization: Top tips for 2024

SEO - Video search optimization: Top tips for 2024


The SERPs of 2024 are certainly not what they were a few years ago, and they’re due to change even more in the coming months as Google aggressively rolls out SGE.

Defining an SEO strategy to capture SERP real estate is increasingly complex due to recent additions like SGE, rich snippets, and other features.

Surprisingly, video search optimization, a method to dominate real estate, remains underutilized.

Let’s look at a quick how-to fitness-related search to see video’s SERP dominance in action:

Reason enough to keep reading, right? Well, there are two main approaches for hosting your video – YouTube and self-hosting – and each requires a different set of optimization techniques. 

This article compares YouTube to self-hosted video, highlights key optimization factors for each, and discusses strategies to extend your video content‘s reach beyond views.

YouTube video optimization

I’ll start with this option because it’s the one I recommend my clients use for one simple reason: you get the benefits of organic search on both Google and YouTube.

Another pro of YouTube hosting is that it’s easy to upload videos on the platform – much easier, anyway, than embedding them into your owned media, which you have to do with self-hosted videos. 

YouTube also bears the brunt of storing the content, while self-hosted videos can take a toll on site speed and processing power.

YouTube optimization relies on a few major factors: 

  • Keyword research that lets you feed Google the right signals to show up for related queries.
  • Video page optimization, including headlines (the most important factor and one that should include your top keyword), descriptions, tags, and thumbnails. 
  • Video structure that enables watch time signals; and
  • Watch time optimization means that videos with longer watch times may rank more highly – so the content should be compelling.

One of the things I like to remind my clients to do for YouTube optimization is to build a good YouTube channel subscriber list, so when you launch a video, you can get subscriber engagement early on.

Dig deeper: How to audit your YouTube channel for brand success

Self-hosted video optimization

The big benefit of self-hosting your videos is that you have full control of the branding and cookies, which YouTube hosting compromises somewhat. 

That can carry different levels of importance depending on brand priorities, but YouTube’s audience is generally a more powerful consideration.

Self-hosted video optimization relies on some traditional SEO practices, like structured data and sitemaps and making the video crawlable and eligible to rank in video search features on the SERP (as explained in these Google guidelines).

Veteran SEOs should have few issues translating their skills from other content forms to video SEO.


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How to leverage video to its fullest

Use it to spin out content

You’ll notice I haven’t claimed anywhere that creating videos is easy (although AI is certainly producing options to make it easier). Anytime you invest in video (especially longer-form video), make sure you’re using it to produce a full range of content.

A couple of use cases I love to recommend include:

  • Picking any of a number of free software services to provide a translation for your video (if you’re going with YouTube video, YouTube will automatically create a transcript). Feed the transcript into ChatGPT and ask for some kind of blog content (as always, with ChatGPT, you’ll have to refine your queries to get what you want, then ruthlessly edit the results). 
  • Using highlight clips from your video in discrete social media posts and tag any guests to extend reach. If you have enough quotes to highlight from those, pull them out into a “10 top moments from {video} blog, which you should then add to your next newsletter.

In those and similar cases, make sure you’re embedding the video where it makes sense so you can capture more video views.

You can do this with either YouTube or self-hosted videos. This creates a virtuous cycle of content (e.g., video content translated into a blog with the embedded video).

Use the video in your email campaigns

Adding video to your emails does more than just make the content engaging; it makes users more likely to check out the content in the first place. Simply adding “VIDEO” to your email subject lines increases open rate by almost 20%, according to Covideo.

Monetize the video

If it’s hard to track view-through performance and impact in paid media, you can correctly guess that it’s even harder for organic video. 

But you can use links (ideally shortened links with UTMs from a tool like Bitly), either in: 

  • The YouTube description.
  • Content close to a self-hosted video.

This helps people find landing pages or product pages that are a natural extension of the user journey. (For instance, a running shoe store might create a video showing “best shoes to correct pronation” and add the link to the top-selling model in the video.)

If your priority is to drive leads or revenue with your video, you can always sacrifice organic performance by gating it. Or you could try adding it in full to your YouTube channel, writing a blog post and including a snippet, then asking the user for an email for the full video link (and hoping the user will do that instead of searching YouTube – hey, it can work). 

Ultimately, video’s primary function will be to increase brand awareness, measured by an increase in brand search. While the above tactics can help video push people toward purchase, good video campaigns usually lead to more brand searches first, then conversions. 

Check things like video views, YouTube search trends (you can see a mapping of video watch time per keyword), and related upticks in brand search trends and corresponding conversions, and you’ll have at least some directional data on revenue impact.

Maximizing video’s impact for better search visibility

Ultimately, I view video optimization as a smart strategy for hedging against any negative effects from the fast-evolving SERP. 

Start with great content that will keep users’ eyes on the screen, pull some levers to help your content show up when they need to see it, and you can afford to be a little less worried about the impact of SGE’s evolution.


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