Stock Footage Seo - Brutally Honest Guide

Pier P. Mansueto
March 15, 2021

SEO in stock footage by Pier P. Mansueto

In these tough times I thought it would be useful to share some brutally honest advice of what I have learned in my 3 year of video stock producer.

Who I am

My name is Pier Paolo Mansueto, I am based in Milan and I produce stock footage since 2017.

Thanks to my effort I earn 500 dollars every month from the video I sell on Pond5 and on Shutterstock.

I have a lot of video on sale now, but recently I have found some ways to increase the position on the rank.

It’s something like a SEO for the Stock agencies. But let me explain everything.

Sales balance

I start with a balance of what I sell. Here you can see my portfolio on the agencies:

I regularly sell at least 20-30 videos per month. The amazing thing is the consistency with which the sales arrive every month.

Every month I can sell for an amount ranging from about $ 350-500. And the trend is constantly growing.

Furthermore, on Pond5, the enhanced sales ( have greatly increased, which are the ones that make the most, those of these types of licenses:

  • Business License
  • Premium License
  • Custom License

Even if the figure is not huge it is not so bad as a side entrance.

The important thing in my opinion to look at is how regularly the sales arrive. They are no longer sporadic events but every month is a regular figure and therefore makes me think that it can really become a job for someone who invests time with perseverance and passion.

Or even a good side activity that serves to supplement the salary with an alternative earning activity that becomes passive the more material you have for sale.

I have managed to greatly increase the videos for sale. I now have a catalog of over 11,000 videos for sale on Pond5 and nearly 5,000 on Shutterstock. I also sell in other agencies but in a very marginal way at the moment.

I managed to reach these numbers by working regularly for at least an hour every day. Not with binges of work but constantly making even 20 videos a day and developing a system that forces me to work methodically every day. I became a professional. I work regularly: I think this is the only way to greatly increase the catalog of your videos for sale.

If you add 20 videos a day and work on them for 200 days a year at the end of the year, you can upload 4,000 videos: they are by no means few. And in three years you can easily reach more than 10000 videos on sale.

Obviously, if you have a large catalog, you have a much better chance of selling.

Unfortunately making videos that the market wants is not enough. Once you upload the videos to the agencies you need to make sure that the agency clients find your videos.

And here the advice I am about to give you will be useful, indeed I must say that for me they were fundamental for the growth I have had in recent months.

SEO: some useful advice

The results I'm having didn't come by chance. In recent times, given the large number of videos I have for sale, I have been trying to understand how to improve the positioning of my videos in the search engines of agencies.

I worked on SEO within stock footage agencies. There is not much on this on the internet and so I started studying this topic by myself.

I realize that perhaps not everyone knows what SEO is but in my opinion it is worthwhile that we as stock producers know a little more about it, so I will talk about it in this article.

For those who write on a blog (BTW, I also have one in italian that talks about photography called if you want to pass by and maybe subscribe to the newsletter) it is essential to work on SEO which is the Search Engine Optimization technique, that is write the article in a way that is optimized for search engines.

This technique is based on writing rules that try to combine two things that are almost incompatible. The purpose is not only to please the reader but also to the Google’s bot that scans the network in search of texts that best satisfy the search made by the Google user. 

In this way, the written article is not only useful to those who read it but those who search for it find it in the search results. And if it is not on the first page of the SERP (this is the name of the page with the search results) it practically does not exist. It is usually said that the best place to hide a dead body is the second page of the Google search results.

Knowing this, I started doing searches in agencies' search engines anonymously to appear as a real client of the agency who comes and wants to buy a video on a certain topic.

Just open a “New Incognito Window” with Chrome and go to the Pond5 video search engine to see how your videos are positioned.

In this way I realized that although in the keywords of the video I had for sale there were all the words I had entered in the search, my video never jumped out of the search.

I can’t explain why. I did several tests but the result was often the same.

So I started putting the precise words in the keywords to make the video come out. And I found that this trick worked. The change is not immediate but after a day or two the agency updates the results and then the video comes out in the search results.

Working on this aspect, I focused on other details that I had always overlooked previously.

I never accurately filled in the Description field and the fields dedicated to the Location when filling in the video card in Pond5.

But in reality these are important elements that appear on the video search page and affect the positioning of your video within the search results page just like when you search for something on Google.

Let's see an example to better explain. If I search Pond5 for the keyword "new york skyline night" I get this video in the first search results:

And as you can easily see the keyword is present in these parts:

  • Title (top right)
  • Description (found below the video in the View Video Details section)
  • And the location is filled in with New York City, USA

The presence in several places of the keyword is one of the elements that favor the positioning of the video at the top of the search results.

There are not many elements on which we can act when we fill in the video card on POND5 but Title, Description and Location are under our direct control and are very powerful means that we cannot ignore and must always be completed in the best way.

So my recommendation is to ALWAYS fill in these fields. If you take a look at the video search results, you realize that almost all the best positioned videos in the search results have these fields filled in.

Of course, it is clear that whoever ranks higher in the search results for a given keyword will be much more likely to sell their video. Of course there are other factors that influence the sale but being on top is essential to be able to sell the video.

If you have a good number of videos for sale, I suggest you to improve the descriptions to have a better positioning within each agency.

A few years ago it was not essential because the competition was not as high as it is today. But today there are many results for the most used search keys so it is essential to pay attention to every detail.

We have worked hard to produce our videos and it is worth do everything to make sure that the video is positioned in the results in the best possible way and for as many search terms as possible.

Bottom line, these are the tips:

  • Enter multiple word keywords in the video tags
  • Enter a Description that contains the keywords
  • Enter the location where the video was shot especially if it is a city
  • Place the keywords at the beginning of the video title

I am sure that if you have good material for sale, only with these optimization interventions you can achieve an increase in sales of 20-30% more than what you sell every month today. These interventions are almost immediate. From my experience, once you have made the change 24-48 hours after your intervention, the search results are updated.It is very easy for you to experience it. My advice is to try and take action as soon as possible. In a short time you will see the results arrive with an increase in sales.

But the advice doesn't end there. In my research I have discovered more.

How to find new ideas: the tool I developed

Working on the SEO, I came up with another idea. For me, ideas are like cherries, one leads to another.

When you search for a keyword on POND5 on the search results page, it also tells you how many videos match that search. For example right now if I search for the keyword
new york skyline night

I see there are 15,994 results. This means that the competition is really high and therefore if I start making a video that satisfies that key it will be more difficult for it to sell even if it is perfectly optimized following the advice I gave you on SEO section. I also noticed that the POND5 search engine, just like Google, when you start typing in the search field, it suggests the search terms, which are the most searched for. In practice, it suggests which keywords are most searched for within its engine.

Look at this example:

So with the help of a programmer I started studying some techniques to try to get the information out of the Pond5 site.

In this video you can see me at work while I extract the information. Just joking! :)

In fact, this information is public but if you do it by hand it is impossible to obtain useful results in a short time. We need a program that runs independently and takes out all the information otherwise it would take months to extract the data. So I developed a program that collects the information and I collected in a spreadsheet all the keywords that Pond5 offers with the autocomplete in the search form together with the number of results for each keyword.

This is a list of over 12,000 keywords!

It is a very simple tool that lists all the keywords in one column and in the second column it says how many are the results for that keyword.

This is an exerpt:

You understand that this can be a very powerful tool both for optimizing the catalog of videos you have for sale and for looking for new video ideas to do in the future. Once you have the file, there is a study work to be done but it is still like a compass that everyone can use in their own way to try to make videos that people want, knowing how many results there are at the moment. Having access to this tool can give you a significant advantage over the competition.

I worked hard on it but I am satisfied with the result.
I am already using it and the results are visible and I plan to fine-tune it in the future for other agencies as well. The next I'd like to work on is Shutterstock.
Obviously if you start making videos following the file that comes from Pond5 the same videos must also be published on other agencies so you increase the chances of sales.
Since it took me a lot of effort to make it, I decided to put it on sale and if you want you can buy it from this link. (Link to Gumroad
The price may seem high but if you think that only by selling a video in 4k you can make up for the price, in my opinion it is really a well-made investment I would not see it as an expense.

In a short time you can make up for the price spent.

There are other things I'm doing but that's all for today.

See you soon from Pier Paolo

Aleksej Vasic

Aleksej is the co-founder and General Manager of Lumina stock studio that has more than one million licences worldwide. With 10+ years in the stock industry, he knows its ins and outs, players and complexities as well as anyone.