Currently, search engines index video files using clues on the page where the file is embedded, and in the file's own metadata, to index the file and include the video in the appropriate results. So, what should producers do to ensure the search engines pick up their videos and index them appropriately?
Here are a few of the key steps I have found:
1. Sitemaps. Google is somewhat limited in what video content they include in SERPs, and video sitemaps are a recommended way to give Google information about the video content of your site. The specification can be found here: Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Introducing Video Sitemaps
2. RSS Feeds. Google loves to crawl RSS feeds of various types, and this includes RSS feeds that focus on video content. Because RSS files are smaller than standard web pages, and easier for the search engines to parse, an RSS index of new video content can give your site a leg up in getting video content crawled and indexed. More info on MRSS can be found here: http://search.yahoo.com/mrss/
3. Metadata. Because search engines do not generally analyze the content of video files (yet, at least as far as they will admit), metadata is the best source for search engines to determine what your video is about. Keep the title short, descriptive and on-target. Make sure your description likewise matches the content of the video, and keep the keywords light, focused on the most imporatant themes of the video. Avoid duplicating keywords.
4. Provide a transcript. Not only is it required by many accessibility regulations, embedding a transcript in the video viewing page will provide the search engines with a wealth of content to index, and to relate to the video file.
5. Optimize the video page. Don't just provide a generic template page for viewing videos. Optimize the page where the video is embedded focusing on the key topics of the video. Context seems to be an important factor used by search engines in determining how to index video files.
6. Use friendly URLs. Put important keywords in the URL and the link text pointing to the embedded video. This will provide the search engines with additional clues as to the relevant topics of the video.
7. Be consistent when distributing your video. Use similar keywords, descriptions and tags when distributing your content through various channels. In search engines that cover multiple video sites, this will give you more opportunities to show up for your target term. For single-site searches, this can help with related views, as viewers follow the trail from one video to another, bringing them to your video.
8. Prepare for the future of video search. As search engines are experimenting with techniques that will allow them to view and analyze the audio and video components of your productions, make sure your video will be as easy to parse as possible. Ensure that the audio is crisp and easy to understand. Make sure your watermark is clearly displayed, especially at the beginning, end, and at each 1/4 of the video (these are the points at which various services generate thumbnails). Highlight important concepts with text overlays if possible to help future OCR components find these elements of the video. By taking these steps now, your videos can remain relevant as search engines improve their scanning and indexing capabilities.
These are just a few of the more common optimization techniques, and represent the bare minimum steps that should be taken when publishing video content. What additional steps or techniques should be implemented when publishing video for SEO and marketing?