YouTube is an incredible platform for marketers across industries to reach a large number of users, and the numbers really say this. YouTube ads have the potential to reach over 2 billion users, which is more than half of the world’s internet users! YouTube gets over 14 billion visits per month, second only to Google.
But as much as YouTube is popular among people, it is becoming equally popular among marketers, and the competition is at its highest. And as such, brands are finding it tough to get their videos noticed by their audiences.
So how do you tackle this issue? The answer lies in your YouTube SEO strategy.
What is YouTube SEO?
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a set of strategies for enhancing user experience and tries to elevate a page’s ranking in search engines. It includes programming, design, content creation, and interactions with other websites in order for search engines to recognise that page as the best result for the user’s query. They can also help eliminate spam and other irrelevant content from the results and ensure a good user experience.
YouTube has its own search system with an intelligent algorithm, which enables users to easily find what they are searching for. Let us delve deeper into YouTube SEO.
How does YouTube SEO work?
YouTube uses a similar search algorithm that its parental company, Google uses, to show users videos that best suits their search intent. When a user enters a search query on YouTube, the site’s robots comb through all of the channels and videos to present the most relevant results to the user. The ranking of a video for a given set of search phrases is determined by an algorithm using many factors in each video post. Among these components are:
- Video description
- Watch time
- Number of views
- Number of comments and likes
The algorithm of YouTube also considers the person’s past activity and behavior when they search for a particular thing. This way, the search results become more personalized and relevant. All these elements together inform the algorithm how engaging, popular and appropriate a video is for a user’s search, and will be ranked on the search results accordingly.
How to create a YouTube SEO strategy
Similar to how you document a SEO strategy for your website, we recommend following these steps to optimize your videos for the best of results:
1. Perform keyword research
The first thing you need to think about is the topics people look for on YouTube. Keyword research is the foundation of a successful YouTube SEO strategy. You can use the terms to research fresh ideas, potential topics and new keywords. YouTube search bars are a great way to search for popular keywords from other users. Or you can look for keywords on Google as YouTube videos get ranked on Google search results.
2. Add hashtags
Hashtags can help get your videos the audience it needs. Adding relevant hashtags like company/ brand name, main topic etc. on your videos and titles is a great way to get your videos exposed.
Users can view video content linked to a specific topic by clicking on the hashtag or searching for it. Too many hashtags might make the content appear as spam so it’s ideal to stick to two or three relevant hashtags.
3. Create a playlist
Viewers find it easier to access your content on YouTube if you create organized playlists. This can benefit you in the long run, as you can retain viewers on your channel for longer while improving overall watch time and search result ranking.
4. Optimize titles and descriptions
Your title and description can really change the treatment your videos get, once they are out. It is ideal to stick to around 75 characters for titles. You can integrate your keywords cleverly with the title by posing a question, making a listicle (E.g. “7 Best..”), comparing and contrasting (E.g. “Best to Worst…”), or with How-tos and Tutorials.
When it comes to descriptions, ensure that your primary keyword is placed without it seeming spammy. Good descriptions will contain links to your other key-word specific videos, timestamps, and links to your socials and website.
5. Leverage YouTube tags
Tags are another small but crucial aspect of your YouTube SEO strategy. Here too more isn’t necessarily merry. Tags can help improve your video’s ranking and boost its visibility, but knowing the right number makes all the difference. By tagging with descriptive words, you let YouTube understand your content so that relevant recommendations can be sent to the viewers.
6. Level up your thumbnails
Thumbnails do not directly impact SEO, but visuals are important to pull viewers. A good striking thumbnail will boost the number of clicks you get and improve your search ranking.
Include bold text for highlighting the title, use striking colors and include some action in the graphic for maximum effect. Note that your thumbnail plays a great part in establishing your brand identity and effectively conveying your brand persona with your content.
7. Promote content across networks
It’s important that your video gets promoted for higher engagement, both in and out of the platform. You can include CTAs in the video and ask for likes and subscriptions. Promote your videos across other channels as well, by embedding them on your website or blog posts and by sharing them via email or via social media channels.
8. Leverage analytics
The next step in your YouTube SEO strategy should be to analyze your results for further optimization in the future. Use YouTube analytics to assess the performance of your videos and find out what works best for you in terms of YouTube SEO. Leveraging analytics will give you a more detailed understanding of what keywords work well, what content people prefer and what content performs the best.
Additionally, you can leverage social analytics tools like Radarr to deep dive into video analytics. Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning, we are also able to pull in additional insights on video engagement, including the sentiment they are generating across the internet.
Best YouTube SEO tips to try
Now that you have a YouTube SEO strategy in place, let’s look into some of the best practices we recommend following:
1. Rename video files to accommodate the target keyword
Firstly, use SEO tools to identify the right keywords that you want for your video. Before you even upload the video, rename the video file (note, this is not your title) with your keyword. You can only use your keyword in a few places on the viewing page, and since YouTube actually reads the file name and the codes that come with it, it can improve your video ranking.
2. Insert keyword seamlessly on the title
Titles are undeniably one of the first things about your content that gets seen by the viewer, and it makes an impression. Considering how the keyword is a fundamental part of your title, you should be able to craft the title closely to what a viewer is looking for, while naturally inserting the keyword.
3. Optimize the video description
The official number of characters you can use in the description, according to Google, is 1000. Even though you can use this space well, only the first two lines are displayed, while the rest is hidden under “show more”. It is better to front-load the most crucial information like CTAs and website links in your description. A well-optimized description can also help your video turn up in the sidebars among suggested videos.
4. Tag the video with popular and topic-related keywords
Tags convey to viewers and to YouTube itself, what your video is about. So, stick to the most relevant tags and use your important keywords here. By understanding the context, YouTube can associate your video with other similar videos and this way your content can gain more views.
5. Categorize the video
By choosing a category for the video, you can group it with similar YouTube content, increasing the chances of it landing into different playlists, and getting more exposure. You can categorize the video from “Advance settings” after uploading the video.
6. Create a custom thumbnail for the video’s result link
Thumbnails catch attention from the beginning and influence the impression of it on viewers. Use a thumbnail of the right quality (1280×720 pixels) and the right file size (below 2MB) in the right format (.jpg, .gif, .bmp, or .png), so that it appears in high quality when displayed. Using a custom thumbnail will be ideal, rather than going for the ones YouTube recommends.
7. Add subtitles and closed captions using an SRT file
Subtitles also contribute greatly to boosting YouTube SEO by further highlighting your keywords. You must provide a valid text transcript or a file with timed subtitles if you want to add closed captions or subtitles to your video.
8. Increase your YouTube channel’s viewership by adding Cards and End Screens
Cards are preformatted notifications that appear on phones or desktops, that can be set up to promote your videos. They can appear as translucent bars prompting subscribers, as channel cards or playlist cards linking to other YouTube content, as poll cards posing a question, as link cards that lead to external sites or as cards requesting fan funding and donations. End screens display similar info but they only appear at the end of the video.
9. Use Hashtags to improve video reach
Similar to social media platforms like Instagram you can include relevant terms and keywords to your clip by using the hashtags feature in the YouTube user interface. They show up right above the video title so that they can be accessed easily. You can also use hashtags in your description, but here too spamming will be penalized by YouTube so stick to only the important ones.
10. Try different video lengths
Higher overall watch times are what you need, but not everyone will stay through longer videos. Try making videos of various durations to see what length your audience prefers to watch. Observe and evaluate each video’s watch time, average view duration, and audience retention, so that you can craft a strategy that hits the right spot.
11. Utilize YouTube’s autocomplete feature
This will help you look for the most popular keywords you can adopt. By typing a keyword phrase on the search bar, you can see what other phrases come up and use this knowledge to craft clever titles, tags and descriptions. You will also have insights into YouTube trends and the keywords your competitors are using.
12. Create a playlist that relates to the video’s general topic
Create keyword-focused playlists for the videos as you continue to add them to your content library. This will not only tell YouTube what the subject matter of your videos is, but it will also keep viewers clicking from video to video, boosting your view count and, consequently, your ranks.
13. Use timestamps
Timestamps let users find what they are looking for within the YouTube video, by demarcating different sections in the video. As it creates expectations, including a timestamp can enhance retention and user experience. Timestamps give viewers a quick way to skip to the part of a video they wish to see or a reason to wait for a particular part to start playing. It also helps YouTube’s algorithm to understand the content and in turn, help improve SEO.
14. Add CTA in the video and description
A good, alluring call-to-action can help improve engagement while boosting likes, shares and subscriptions. These actions can also signal YouTube about how engaging your video is and in turn improve YouTube SEO.
15. Review YouTube search analytics
Analytics are helpful for monitoring how well you’re doing in reaching your objectives, but you can also actively use this information to raise your YouTube SEO. You can see how and why your traffic is improving or worsening, anticipate popular keywords, understand your viewers and optimize your content for the best results.
16. Leave a pinned message on the video
This is an optional YouTube SEO tip you can use, as leaving a pinned comment on your own video can generate more comments and increase engagement. But ensure that the comment you leave is engaging enough to lead towards further discussions from viewers.
Improve YouTube Marketing with Better YouTube SEO Tactics
YouTube marketing can cost you. And if you are investing your resources in creating video content to improve your marketing, it is paramount that you also invest time into helping the video content get discovered.
With a clever YouTube SEO strategy in place, you can ensure that your efforts result in appropriate rewards.
Now you have mastered YouTube SEO, and only need to apply your knowledge. Looking for more marketing wisdom?