7 ways video & rich media sites can improve their SEO

by on 25th January 2011

Own a video or media rich website? It’s a fact of life that search engines struggle to understand the content of video on websites. This post will help you overcome some of those problems and may even come in useful for less media-rich websites, too.

Transcribe your video content

There’s a ton of potentially valuable, unique content locked away inside those video files. Use transcription service, using a “human” reviewer to iron out any typos / kinks in the wording. Alternatively, outsource your transcription via services like Elance, ODesk or send the audio to companies like If your video content is in a specialist, niche topic area, it might pay to locate a freelancer who has some expertise in your subject.

Mark Up User Ratings and Reviews with Microformats

**This section is now out of date. Refer to our Guide to Rich Snippets and Schema Markup for the most up to date information on Markup.

Seemingly few, if any video sites are fully embracing the magic of structured data on their sites. If you’re taking the time to invite users to rate your content, you should definitely play it back on your pages with a sensible markup. If RDFa is your thing, Yahoo Search Monkey (Video) has a “review:rating” attribute or you could experiment by nesting the rating attributes from RDFa.

I prefer the simplicity of Microformats, and where appropriate some experimentation with hReview could yield improvement. Video rating “video:rating” is an optional attribute in video sitemaps too, so don’t forget to push your review data into your XML sitemap if you can.

No Microformats on Youtube

Use simple embed funtionality

I’m particularly keen on making any embed process as easy for users as possible. If this involves reworking your embed code and ensuring solid cross-platform compatibility, then so be it. I love Vimeo’s example – it’s simple and clean. If you need to customise the display options a little further no problem.

It’s also worth pointing out that webmasters who produce video are looking for easy ways to earn links back to their site. If one of your visitors choose to embed your content, you’d like to earn a link back to your site, too. Most video hosting sites embed code will always ensure a link back to their own sites, not necessarily that of the contributor. SEOmoz demonstrate a work around solution to this problem in their Whiteboard Friday posts, by adding their own link back in the embed code with the anchor SEO Software, and Paddy Moogan of Distilled talks about leveraging Youtube’s embed code for links in this post.

Use technology, differently

What happens when hardcore web developers and creatives get together to create something ground breaking?. There’s no doubt that doing something new or different with technology in the right space will attract serious buzz from social, the technology press and the developer community. Often confused with HTML5, the awesome flash hack NinjaUnboxing2 (hosted on Youtube) attracted 934 links (Root Domains, OSE).

934 links to a single campaign URL? That’s proper link building.

Ninjas Unboxing

Social Activity On the Video Host Page

What are people saying about your video content? Sure, you’ve got the ability to capture comments, but what are people saying about that video on Twitter? Did the URL get submitted to other video aggregation / news sites? What are people saying in the comments on those sites? Scrape, fetch, display for a long tail traffic boost and solid social proofing of your content.

Make mash-ups easy: make your content available through an API

Great API documentation leads to great use cases of your API. Mashups are awesome. Scraping is, cool. Let people use your content, openly through Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licensing. The outcome can be pretty amazing, with all-important attribution, of course.

Amp up your social connection / login capability

Tom's Login

Not solely an “improve your SEO” point, but also an “improve your sign up and registration rate” point. Why have your own registration process when you can use sign in using Facebook, Twitter, OpenID, LinkedIn or Google? Tom uses this approach via Janrain on his excellent 7books – and remember that once you’re OAuth’d, the activity of your users can be shared, liked and tweeted in their social spheres with their permission. More social activity centred around a web page is arguably a great thing for your SEO efforts.


  1. Hi Richard

    nice post i like the bit about transcribing video makes a lot of sense and i have seen it used on SEOMoz.

    The best point i think is about the single sign on option, there are so many sites out there now that having to remember more than half a dozen logins is a problem, also if you have a site where someone is only going to use it for a brief period making them have to sign up to your reg form is a hassle. If you allow them to achieve something using an existing account even if you request further details after its one less thing for them to think about. As you say it opens up easy marketing opportunities as well which is another win as well as wider reach.

  2. Agreed i have only seen it used in a mobile App which was a pretty good use case for it.

  3. Hi. Thanks for the great informative post. Effective use of video content and social sites can really help to improve SEO for your site. There are certain things that we need to know and follow whilst creating a website and this post should really help people to get a proper guidance in this respect. Pls. keep updating your blog regularly.

  4. Another good resource for video transcription and the like is I would recommend anybody needing video or to hire people to improve your video could take a look at Fiverr listings and find something you need done no doubt. Thanks for the read!

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