How To: Video SEO (for mere mortals)

Sitemaps, URLS and Schema…”Oh My”

Most marketers understand the general concept of search engine optimization (SEO) - selecting and defining keywords and metatags that allow our content to show up ahead of someone else’s in search results. Over the years, it seems that SEO has become an esoteric mix of art and science left to those we call search engine specialists. For the rest of us, it can look like black magic.

At its core though, SEO is about giving the search engines what they want in the format they want. If we can provide the search engine with the right information, in the right format, then our content has a better chance of being featured in the first listings of search returns. The good news for video marketers?  


Search engines love pages with video on it because, well, people love pages with video on it.

Video offers an added opportunity to provide these search engines with specific info they are looking for.   I am often asked “how can I make my videos show up first in search results?” While there’s no quick fix, there are some proven strategies you can apply that will dramatically improve the ranking of your content.

WARNING: TECH TALK INCOMING! (Don’t worry we’ll keep this part in English for us mere mortals.)

To have a successful video SEO strategy you need three main things:

  1. A single unique URL for each video on your website domain
  2. Schema tags for each video on your page
  3. A video sitemap

Single Unique URL

A single unique URL means you can share the unique URL via sitemaps, emails, or social networks. That allows the search engine to follow and track that URL and to determine its value. Essentially you’ve given your video it’s own address so that when the search engines can track it throughout the Internet no matter where it appears.


Schema….say what? If you’ve never heard of schema, here’s my short definition. Some time ago, the major search engines agreed upon a standard set of tags that you can use to describe the videos on your webpage. These are tags that you add to the code of your page in a specific format. This step allows the search engines to gather data from your website in a predictable and structured format.

You can learn a bunch more about schema at One of the best short summaries of this is Improve Video Discoverability with Schema by our very own Jim Zisk.

Video Sitemaps

You can compile a list of your videos with their unique URLs and submit these to Google (and other search engines). This action will trigger their bots to go out to your website and confirm that your videos are indeed on that page. If they happen to find schema tags on those pages, they’ll collect those additional details and be just about the happiest little bots you’ve ever seen.  Check out an example of a sitemap here. You can use the sample code and modify it for your own video sitemap.


If you’re still with me, take a moment and pat yourself on the back. Now that you understand the importance of a unique URL, schema, and sitemap for each of your videos, the question you probably have is “so how do I do this?” The truth is, if you do this on your own it’s going to take some work but, it will be worth it. Allow me to give you a quick outline of the steps you’ll need to take.

The video sitemap is fairly simple. Once created, the next step is to submit the sitemap to Google. Here’s the challenge: as soon as you post a new video you’re going to need to update and re-submit your doc to Google.

Schema. We also have a great tool that will pull metadata from your Video Cloud account and add it as schema tags for you. This does, however, mean that you’ll have to do this for each new video you embed on your site and re-do it for any existing videos.

The unique URL part can be challenging as it requires you to re-structure how your webpages are named and built. This step can be troublesome as you’re probably not the only person or division with your company that uses your website.

Brightcove’s Gallery product amazingly does all three of these for you. Not only can you pubilsh amazing video portals, but any site built using Brightcove Gallery will automatically compile the video metadata into a video sitemap and keep it up to date for you. It will also automatically embed schema tags on each page and each video automatically gets a unique URL without interfering with your corporate website. Many publishers report measurable improvement in their video discoverability after launching a Gallery page.

Whether you take a DIY approach or want to explore the options of Brightcove Gallery, these unique URLs, schema, and sitemaps will help you keep your videos in front of viewers and make sure your brand is the first one they see when using the major search engines out there.