Best Practices to Maximize Your Videos’ SEO With Wistia’s Chris Savage

Best Practices to Maximize Your Videos’ SEO With Wistia’s Chris Savage

Interview by Ricardo Esteves
Published: October 23, 2023

Understanding video SEO is crucial for businesses aiming to enhance their online presence and connect with their audience effectively. However, the subtle strategies and best practices in this area can often be neglected or misinterpreted, leading to missed opportunities.

We reached out to Chris Savage, CEO and co-founder of Wistia, a video marketing platform renowned for its business-centric approach, to shed light on proper video SEO practices and other crucial video-related topics. Wistia's extensive experience and knowledge in these areas made them a perfect fit for an interview.

In our discussion, Chris offers valuable insights into video SEO, highlighting effective strategies, pointing out common missteps, and showcasing Wistia's distinct features. He also reflects on the evolving landscape of video content and cautions against over-reliance on generative AI.


Who Is Chris Savage?

Chris Savage is the CEO of Wistia, a company he co-founded with Brendan Schwartz in 2006. After graduating from Brown University with a degree in Art-Semiotics, Chris and Brendan started Wistia in Brendan’s living room. Since then, the company has grown into a multi-million dollar business, employing over 200 people and serving 375,000 businesses.

Spotlight: Wistia has positioned itself as a video marketing platform designed for businesses. In practical terms, can you explain how this differentiates Wistia from other video hosting platforms?

Chris: Wistia is a complete video marketing platform that helps teams create, host, and analyze the impact of their videos all in one place. We are different from other video platforms on the market because we are designed exclusively to support the needs of B2B companies using video for marketing, support, and sales.

If a company is looking to drive traffic to its website, improve conversions, or increase engagement across the websites it controls, Wistia is for them.

Users also have full control over their individual experience. All capabilities are housed on the same platform, allowing for quick and seamless transitions between recording, editing, and trimming. Key features include video player customization, built-in accessibility options, seamless integrations, industry-leading analytics, lead generation tools, and more.

When it comes to our customers’ video marketing strategies, Wistia is also committed to providing educational resources and world-class support. This includes publishing relevant content for users, including how-to’s and demos, along with providing exceptional customer service.

With the focus on companies, Webinars are supported by Wistia's platform. Can you tell us about specific tools for this type of content, including how you handle all the logistics?

Hosting webinars is a complicated, labor-intensive process, requiring marketing teams to work across multiple platforms to plan, schedule, host, record, and edit their content. Without the proper tools or a big team, executing a webinar plan can be overwhelming.

However, Wistia Live allows marketers to easily create, host, market, and analyze the impact of their webinars and live events. Not only are marketers able to set up their webinars and go live directly through Wistia, but they can also edit and redistribute post-event video content, all on the same platform. The feature helps marketers streamline the live webinar process from beginning to end.

Wistia’s technology also offers built-in data analytics and interactive video tools that allow marketers to gain actionable insights and boost content performance. This enables marketers to capitalize on their videos and learn how to improve future content for their audience.

SEO is also a big part of Wistia, automatically optimizing videos for search engines. Can you elaborate on how this process works?

Wistia automatically optimizes your videos for search engines, which means your videos can rank better, attract more viewers, and get you more site visitors, without any extra work.

Wistia Channels SEO works with just a simple embed code but creates unique search-optimized pages for each video using only client-side JavaScript. Without any custom development work, users can ensure all their videos are indexed and ranking well in any Google search.

Can you tell us about some of the best practices companies should consider to improve their video's SEO?

Organizations looking to maximize SEO for their video content should try incorporating these best practices:

  • Create compelling thumbnails: Create an interesting thumbnail that will make viewers want to click on your content; it should also be an honest reflection of what is in the video but doesn’t need to be an actual frame from the video itself. Typically, thumbnails that include faces and avoid screenshots perform the best and improve click-through rates. Don’t forget to make sure everything in your thumbnail image is visible at 116x65 pixels - this is the size your video will appear in search results.
  • Utilize video sitemaps: A sitemap is a file uploaded to your website that provides specific metadata about the site’s pages, videos, and images to search engines. Whether using a video-specific sitemap or including the information as part of a broader sitemap, this is the best way to help Google and other search engines find and understand the video content on your website. Some platforms automatically set this up when you upload your video; if your platform of choice doesn’t, you can use a sitemap generator as a starting point.
  • Double-check your JavaScript: The most common reason video SEO doesn’t work properly is because Google can’t find or read the videos on your webpage. If your website is built with angular.js or other JavaScript libraries, the video can get buried in the JS layers. An atypical build can require some added technical work to improve video SEO, and if you’re unsure of where your video stands, check its Google Rich Results test to see what Google’s indexing is on your webpage.
  • Include video captions and transcripts: Beyond increasing accessibility for your videos, including captions and transcripts is essential for SEO results. Search bots “crawl” your webpage to read the text and code for information about the content. Including both captions and transcripts can provide those search bots with the information they need to classify your page correctly.

Considering the large number of customers Wistia covers, how do you keep your platform adjustable and easy to integrate with to meet the unique needs of various companies?

We believe Wistia becomes even more powerful when customers are able to use it with their favorite tools. Given the number of Wistia customers and the number of available solutions on the market, Wistia keeps its platform adjustable by investing in strategic partnerships.

By integrating our software with other tools in customers’ existing tech stacks, Wistia is able to better meet customers’ needs and improve their overall experience. These features also enable marketers across industries to reach audiences with creative, high-quality content.

Examples of partnerships within Wistia’s network include HubSpot, Adobe Marketo Engage, and Pardot.

Wistia's Logo

Copyrights and hate speech are a massive concern regarding video platforms. What measures are in place to prevent these and other kinds of improper or illegal content at Wistia?

Our team is committed to our Content Standards Policy, which is intended to provide clarity and guidelines for the type of content published on Wistia. In short, we prohibit content that most organizations would commonly block on their own networks (copyrighted material, violence, and explicit content, for example).

While we’re primarily concerned with content uploaded to Wistia, inclusion is a core value of Wistia culture, and because of this, our policy on hate and discrimination extends beyond content.

We will ban accounts connected with a mission or history of action that is hateful, harassing, demeaning, or discriminatory, particularly when this activity targets others based on a generalized category of identity: age, disability, ethnicity, religion, race, sexual orientation, or gender.

Video interactivity is part of the solution that Wistia provides. Can you explain how it works and what content is most suitable for interactivity?

We want to make it easy for our customers’ audience to take action and connect with their brand through video interactivity. There are multiple interactive video tools available on Wistia’s platform, including email collector, annotation links, call to action, and more. Each tool operates differently, but the ultimate goal is to help users turn their passive viewers into active ones.

The webinar content is most suitable for interactivity, as there are opportunities for viewers to participate through chatting in real-time and in response to a host’s call to action.

However, any type of video is suitable for video interactivity, and we intentionally evolved Wistia’s platform to enable creators to easily integrate interactive elements within their videos.

In recent years, we've seen the rise of AI-generated content, including in video. What's Wistia’s position concerning this emerging topic?

Professionals across all industries will inevitably incorporate generative AI, like ChatGPT, into their workflows. But, as these applications become more mainstream, there will be a massive influx of mediocre content, specifically in the marketing space.

An issue that may arise with generative AI is that marketers might rely on the tool to develop pieces of content without reviewing it first or making sure it aligns with the brand’s voice.

Marketers should be experimenting with generative AI to see if it can make their workflows more productive, but to differentiate themselves, they will need to use generative AI to elevate their work, not just automate it.

Don’t just say the prompt and forget it. Take advantage of the tools to kickstart a project outline or outsource a first draft, but don’t immediately hit publish without capitalizing on the opportunity.

Marketers need to get as imaginative as possible and scrutinize AI-generated content to ensure they are differentiating themselves from the market and producing exceptional content.

You've launched several new features in a recent update. Can you tell us more about the changes you've made to Wistia's product?

We’ve launched several new features in the past month, including:

  • Dynamic layouts for recording
  • Form conversion analytics
  • Pardot forms
  • Default projects for live events
  • Enhanced search filters

We work closely with our customers to help determine our product innovation focus areas. Instead of creating new products that may be trendy or flashy, we are deliberate in making tools and product updates that will improve the experience of the end user.

One of our company’s core beliefs is consistently and authentically using our own products day-to-day - this way, Wistians can experience product pain points and identify opportunities for innovation through our customers’ eyes.

In addition to product updates, we also prioritize partnerships to streamline the user experience, as customers can integrate Wistia with tools already existing within their tech stack. This past month, we facilitated an integration with Hootsuite, which lets users plan, schedule, and share their Wistia content directly from Hootsuite.

We also now allow users to embed their HubSpot form right into their Wistia Live registration page when planning webinars or live events.

What can we expect to see from Wistia in the coming months? Are there any new or ongoing projects you can tease?

We are always working on new features and capabilities that help streamline the video creation process for our users.

We just released AI-generated chapters! There will be a button in the Chapters section of Customize and a menu item in the Transcript menu titled "Generate Chapters" – with the use of AI, users can automatically create chapters for their videos.

This allows users to enhance their viewers’ experience, and increase audience engagement.

Keep up with Wistia and read more of our interviews with industry experts!

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