The New Frontier Of Mobile Optimized Video, Part 2

In my last column, I addressed the frontlines of mobile video optimization and also discussed the transformation of online video placement as a shift from containers to conduits. Now, I want to turn attention to mobile video SEO and ways you can strategically leverage your parent site for your mobile site.

Implementing Mobile Video SEO

Optimizing for mobile video requires not only encoding your video correctly on mobile pages, but also using traditional SEO best practices for video. As mentioned in my previous post, encoding should ideally be done with H.264 — though WebM and Theora are also options — and accompanied by an appropriate audio codec like Vorbis, MP3, or AAC.

Don’t forget the responsible task list for pairing multimedia with mobile SEO:

  • Asset hosting
  • Keyword research
  • Optimized title tags
  • Compelling copy
  • Actionable meta data
  • Unique URLs
  • Mobile HTML declarations
  • Video sitemap
  • Transcript files

Just as important for ranking video/video pages for your content is the ability to leverage your canonical site to boost visibility that will, in turn, provide ideal positioning for mobile searchers. This can be accomplished by first applying SEO to your canonical, main domain pages (designed primarily for desktop/laptop browser access). There are two options for leveraging these:

  1. Via user detection that sends the visiting mobile device a “mobilized” CSS, which reorganizes the canonical page for a smaller screen and input type
  2. Via user/browser detection that sends the visiting mobile device to an equivalent mobile site page specifically optimized for mobile accessibility

If resources are tight, the former is usually a more cost-effective means of presenting ideal page layouts to mobile users, but the latter is the best option if you can manage to fit it into your budget.

Since mobile devices are usually accessing the site on a slower, bandwidth-constrained network, serving handheld CSS to these devices doesn’t necessary offer a faster, more optimized experience if there are large images, gobs of JavaScript, and excessive text not ideal for a small screen.

If the latter is taken, equivalent mobile pages should, in turn, reflect the content (including video) of the canonical, main site page with a focus on compressing images, eliminating unused JavaScript, and trimming down excess text.

A Rundown Of Usage

Let’s say you choose option #1. Your development team will program user agent/browser detection on the bigger, desktop-optimized versions of your site (that rank based on past and current SEO efforts) to redirect mobile searchers to the equivalent mobile pages. Additionally, all mobile pages should have a canonical tag pointing the equivalent desktop page, and each mobile page should also detect desktop browsers and direct them to the bigger, canonical site.

This strategy guarantees an elimination of duplicate content while providing ideal user experiences for both desktop users and mobile users. If your site is exclusively mobile, it’s as simple as keeping your video encoded with H.264 and respective audio codecs.

If you’re juggling a canonical, desktop-size site and a mobile site, it’s best to cater to the widest audience possible — and that includes browsers not capable of HTML5 video and only Flash. Camen Design gives an excellent overview of how to address video for browser users of all types, and provides robust example code.

As mobile usage and video consumption grows, the more important their fusion becomes; and SEO continues to be the most effective way to bring visitors to that content.


There recently has been heated discussion (and a fair amount of hair-ringing) from Google’s announcement about dropping support for H.264 from its Chrome browser, instead opting for the WebM multimedia container format.

This change could delay forecasting and planning for the future of mobile video because so much of the Web has prepared for the coming of HTML5 and chosen to use H.264 as the codec of choice for some kind of standardization since many modern browsers supported it, but not WebM.

The reason they’ve done this is most likely due to the codec’s ability to take advantage of hardware decoders, accelerating performance on mobile platforms and optimizing device battery life.

Since so many developers have chosen H.264 — even Google’s own YouTube uses the codec inside a Flash container — the call to change to WebM may not be greeted by developers with open arms even if it is technically more open standard, because their workload would increase: they would need to code their videos three times, one in Theora for Firefox, and so on.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Video | Video Search


About The Author: specializes in increasing visibility and traffic to large retail, publisher, lead generation, and financial Web sites as the Vice President of Client Services for Performics.

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