SEO Will Revolutionize Your Indie Series Discoverability- I Hate Marketing part 7

I Hate Marketing is a new weekly Stareable Film School column, where we’ll talk about how to make marketing easier, even for those of us who hate it.

Even if you’re totally on your game when it comes to marketing and posting content to your social media and website, approximately 50% of your discoverability success comes down to dumb luck. For increasing your luck in this arena, the best weapon in your arsenal is SEO.


SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is “a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results” according to For example, when you’re tagging your web series episodes on YouTube, you shouldn’t just tag it “accurately,” with the series name and the names of the actors. If your show is about zombies, for example, you can tag it “zombies, horror, apocalypse, post apocalypse, apocalyptic, zombie, monster.” This way your show can be found when people are searching for similar content instead of just when people are searching for your show specifically. SEO is just the fancy term for “making yourself more discoverable.”

What am I doing wrong?

That depends! As artists, we strive to be unique, but when marketing, that can complicate things. Your ironically mysterious social media bios might be “on brand,” but if a potential viewer stumbles across them, are they descriptive enough to bring them into the fold? Do you make it clear that the account is for a web series and that you can view said web series at a particular link? Did you explain, even briefly, what kind of series it is?

People watch films and series that are interesting to them and the best way to interest an audience is to let them know it’s similar to other themes and properties they already like. This is at the core of SEO- figuring out what kinds of things your audience are already searching for and positioning your show to pop up in those searches.

So what should I be doing?


I’ve talked about branding [previously] but that was a little more design-oriented. To make your SEO brand consistent, we have to talk about language. Not only should your usernames on different social media be the same (or as similar as humanly possible), but so should the hashtags you use to promote the show, the way you refer to your show (Stray web series versus Stray show), all the way down to the logline descriptor in all your bios and about pages and video descriptions. This way, if one of your show’s internet landing pages comes up in search results, all of them will. Try to search “Brains web series” right now, and you’ll see what I mean. One search result, especially if it’s the top result, is good. Ten is better.


When looking to increase your SEO potential, your series logline (the one-two sentence overview of the series) and synopsis shouldn’t just explain the concept of your series. They should also make sure to use words you know your intended audience is already searching for. Let’s look at a side by side example:

Bad: In the web series “20 Seconds To Live,” someone dies at the end of every episode.

Better: “20 Seconds To Live” is the award-winning horror/comedy web series for people who hate happy endings!

They managed to sneak two genres into the first few words of their tagline while still remaining artistic with their description of the show as a whole. This means that when people are searching for horror or comedy series, they’re likely to pop up, and when people are searching for horror or comedy web series, they’re even more likely to. They also not-so-casually dropped in the fact that they’re an award-winning series, which gives them extra credibility for when people are choosing what to watch.

Name dropping

If someone has compared your show to a popular television show, you can use that too!

For example, Social Medium’s tagline is “If “New Girl” and “Ghost Whisperer” had a baby, this would be that web series.” Now, anytime people are searching New Girl and Ghost Whisperer, they have the potential to pop up as well, because they use that language in as many places at possible. It’s also descriptive enough to give you an idea of what the series will be about, gives you context for what their vibe is, and still asserts its uniqueness, because it’s not New Girl, and it’s not Ghost Whisperer, it’s a quirky new media combination of those two seemingly very different (and already beloved) properties.

This goes double for if you have an actor or crew member who’s known for something else. They don’t have to be George Clooney- my pal Brandon Smalls, the DP for my series, was on an episode of Chicago PD and you can bet your butt I promoted the crap out of that appearance and his connection to my show.

Video tags

If you’re uploading your series to Youtube, Vimeo, and/or Facebook, don’t underestimate the power of tagging. Remember, if your show is about zombies, you can tag it “zombies, horror, apocalypse, post apocalypse, apocalyptic, zombie, monster.” If your show is a comedy, you can also throw in “comedy, lol, funny, funny video, haha, laughing, laugh, comedy film, comedy series.” No one’s ever going to see these tags, so go buck wild! Don’t be disingenuous, but really think about your audience and what kinds of people would enjoy your content, then think about what kinds of things those people browse for.

Final thoughts

SEO is an inexact science, especially with search algorithms changing every day. The main concept remains intact, though: in order to be discoverable in the massive void of the internet, you cannot be careless with the way you present your series. Passive discoverability is hugely important because you can only do so much active promotion before you burn out, and considering SEO will make that way easier on your marketing-hating soul.


I’ve been reading up on YouTube SEO lately, and a common refrain in all of the videos and posts I’ve read about it is that single word keywords don’t work well.

For instance, you’re gonna have a hard time getting found with the “zombies” keyword, because while there are over two million searches for it per month (according to the “Keywords Everywhere” Chrome plug-in), there are also too many results and new ones getting added all the time. People don’t often scroll past the first few results.

So you may have better results with the “funny zombies” keyword which gets 2400 searches per month (which is still quite a few per day!) but has FAR less “competition,” as they refer to it, so you have a better chance of turning up higher in the results.

Since I haven’t actually leveraged this strategy successfully, that’s about as much as I can offer about it, but some of you may find it worth looking into further!


Interesting! I’ll have to do more research then!


Right you are, single word keywords don’t work well, because there is too much competition using single word keywords. You want to use what are termed long tail keywords, which could be phrases, questions, or groups of words that work for your video that people might be looking up. You also want to research which keyword phrases are likely to be the most competitive for you. We use keyword planner for this, but tube buddy can also be useful for this.

Taking the time to do this properly is why a simple tutorial video on ‘how to make a flipagram’ video is why we ended up with 420K views on my colleagues video and now we have 3 videos on the topic in the top 10 when you search that term. It takes time to do, but it can pay off in spades.


Hi Bri,

Doing this properly is one of the things I teach in my Digital Community / Storyworld Building Courses through BCIT’s Broadcast Media and Communications Part Time Studies Program. This is also something that most web and TV series creators do not know how to do well, and miss the potential of reaching a much larger audience online, as a result of not understanding. You are touching on some important aspects of SEO here, but are missing the crux of what works and how to do it properly. Although not a sexy topic, I wonder if a workshop on SEO for Web Series might be beneficial at Stareable Fest.




SECONDED! @EricaHargreave our programming slate is already set for Stareable Fest this year, but that’s definitely something to consider for the next one! In the meantime if you want to write a guest post by all means, go ahead!! Email me at :slight_smile:


I second this sentiment, @EricaHargreave - especially if you can delve into the nitty gritty, which as you say is not a sexy topic but one of utmost importance. I can motion track a show logo to move in 3d space, but SEO is daunting for me. :wink:

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I emailed @Bri_Castellini about this. Teaching people to do SEO properly is more involved than a blog post, @movieguyjon and @gmcalpin. In the course that I teach my students how to do SEO properly, we invest 2 of the 12-weeks of the course to SEO. That said, when I have the time, I will write up some of the basics to getting started. It really can be magical when done right, but a fair bit of research goes into finding the right words to make the magic happen, so time needs to be invested to do it properly.