Table of contents
- YouTube SEO – Why Do It?
- YouTube Video SEO – What It’s All About?
- Step 1 – Analysis
- Step 2 – Video Title and Video File Name
- Step 3 – Video Description
- Step 4 – Tags
- Step 5 – Add a Custom Video Thumbnail
- Step 6 – Subtitles
- Step 7 – End Cards and Screens
- YouTube SEO – An Easy Way to Increase YouTube Channel Visibility
The Internet is constantly changing. Platforms are born, grow in popularity, and die, replaced by other channels that are more relevant to modern users. This circle of digital life applies to most sites, but some breakout of the cycle and triumph around the world for years. YouTube belongs to this elite group. The platform was born over 15 years ago and quickly became one of the fastest-growing websites in the world. Today, the Youtube search engine is the second most popular search engine in the world and therefore a platform with huge marketing potential which should not be underestimated. In this article, we will give you some useful Youtube SEO tips and show you how to optimize your video to rank high in the Youtube search results.
YouTube SEO – Why Do It?
More and more marketers are investing resources in YouTube, but most often this involves Google Ads (read more about Google Ads on YouTube). However, YouTube can also provide a brand with a significant increase in visibility thanks to organic traffic – how-to videos, company videos, reports from industry events, and product videos – all content that helps brands gain both customer interest and trust. But of course, there’s a catch. According to statistics, a total length of about 500 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute! There are billions of videos on the platform, uploaded by users from 88 countries. So you cannot assume that just uploading a new video to the web is enough to become the king of YouTube – according to the Pex report, almost 90% of videos on YouTube do not exceed 1,000 views. So, just like with Google and other search engines, you need to make an effort to rank high and get noticed. This is where YouTube video positioning comes into play.
YouTube Video SEO – What It’s All About?
Positioning is still mainly associated with the optimization of websites and text on them, while this concept is much broader. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) concerns not only written content but also all other materials on the Internet – such as photos or films. Therefore, we can also take appropriate steps to optimize YouTube content and thus increase the number of views. It is worth doing because YouTube is the world’s largest search engine for entertainment content. According to a study conducted by Ahrefs in 2019, it only takes a few basic SEO actions, no more than 5 minutes, to increase the organic reach of a youtube video by 30%. And if we decide to spend about 15 minutes on optimization and enrich the youtube video with all the elements of SEO, we can increase the reach by as much as 400%! But one step at a time. We will tell you step by step what you need to do to optimize your video on Youtube to be more visible and achieve a higher ranking. Here are some tips you should remember when creating videos.
Step 1 – Analysis
The basis of any orderly and effective actions in the field of YouTube SEO is an in-depth analysis of the channel and individual videos. It helps us to see the current visibility of the videos, what works best, and also the problems and room for optimization. Specialized keyword research tools such as vidIQ help with this.
vidIQ is a Chrome browser plugin that measures our video results in terms of YouTube SEO and helps increase the organic reach of our videos, also checking the results of competitors or similar channels. What’s most useful in the program is the algorithm that determines the optimization score, i.e. the estimated SEO score for each video on YouTube. It analyzes all the factors related to the video and determines the probability that the material will be placed high in the Youtube search results or in the side list with similar videos. With the plugin, we can also audit the channel or check the actions taken by competitors. It is a tool that gives you the production value and arms you with basic knowledge, with which you can proceed to do YouTube SEO.
Step 2 – Video Title and Video File Name
The title is one of the first things a user sees when selecting content to watch. However, it’s also one of the elements taken into account by the YouTube algorithm when matching results to the terms people are searching for. Therefore, it’s important that the video’s tagline specifies what the youtube video is about and contains a target keyword.
A keyword is a phrase that users type into the platform’s search engine to find a video on a given topic. Its selection is very important and should be based not on gut feelings, but on hard data about the monthly number of searches for a specific phrase. Tools available on the Internet, such as the aforementioned vidIQ plugin or Ahrefs – providing keyword research for Google and other search engines – can help in finding relevant keywords. However, the easiest way to find valuable phrases is to check YouTube search engine hints.
The video title should explain what the user will find in the video, but it’s worth remembering that in a list with similar or recommended videos, a name that’s too long may be cut off. To make sure this doesn’t happen, you should create a title with no more than 60 characters, including spaces. However, you can also use the so-called Zeigarnik effect, which says that people feel the need to finish the process they started. So when the title is too long and is cut off, there’s a chance that the user will open the video to learn the rest of the name, but it must break off in an interesting place.
If we decide on longer titles, the most important thing is that the first three words should be matched with attractive key phrases. This can be followed by long tail phrases, CTAs or clickbait. However, using clickbait names only works if they fully relate to what is in the video. Ultimately, it’s the user’s engagement with the video that determines whether YT’s algorithm will continue to display the video for a given query as interesting content. If a lot of people watch the video and don’t abandon it in the first few seconds, it means the content is valuable – this is called fulfilling user intent.
Positioning a video on YouTube will be more effective if you also include the keyword in the video file name you intend to upload to the platform. This is a very important step for SEO, as algorithms can read the name to determine the subject matter of the video. So a meaningless, unique video file name reduces our chances of getting into the search results list and the recommended videos bar.
Step 3 – Video Description
Video description is a place where we can include all the most important information about the material – creators’ data, place and time of the shooting, etc. However, it is also a space that allows us to use the potential of popular keywords.
The SEO-optimized video descriptions should contain phrases that are thematically related to the video content but placed naturally – artificial saturation of the text with not related keywords will not only not increase the organic reach but may also bring the opposite effect.
Why is setting the right video descriptions so important for YouTube SEO? Content placed in this field is one of the elements taken into account by algorithms when it comes to videos ranking, so placing important keywords in it increases the likelihood that the video will end up in the sidebar with suggested youtube videos of similar topics. This in turn is an important source of views for most youtube channels.
The character limit for the video description is so high that we can afford to discuss each video in detail. Taking advantage of this potential and creating comprehensive video descriptions (at least 450 characters) – is an important element of YouTube SEO. However, most users will only see the beginning of the video description, which is about 100-150 characters. To see the entire text, they have to click the “show more” button, which is chosen by a small percentage of Internet users, so the first sentences should contain the most important information about the video content and the most relevant keywords.
Step 4 – Tags
The choice of tags is one of the most important steps in positioning pages on YouTube. They should best indicate to users what they will find in the material, but also help algorithms thematically link the video with other videos on the platform. To a large extent, tags are what determine what videos will end up in the sidebar list with YouTube’s suggested similar content. However, choose tags for your video carefully – too many unrelated tags to the topic of your video can be considered spam by the algorithms and result in a penalty from YouTube. The previously mentioned vidIQ tool can help you choose the best tags. You can use it in two ways. If we add the first tags to the video, the algorithms will show us similar tags with high potential. However, we can also search for them manually, checking in the vidIQ program the actions of competitors who do best in positioning on YouTube. It is worth adding in tags not so popular keywords such as the name of the channel or exact phrases from the title of the video, but also popular, but not too broad keywords.
Step 5 – Add a Custom Video Thumbnail
The video thumbnail is, next to the video title, the most visible element in the results list, so it largely encourages or discourages users to click the link, and thus is quite important in positioning the page on YouTube. Take care of the positive visual impression of our audience and prepare a special board about the topic of the video and attract the eyes of Internet users. Admittedly, we can choose one of the automatically generated by the platform thumbnails, but YouTube itself states that 90% of the most effective videos are those that have a custom thumbnail. It is important that the image is of very good quality and that it’s readable in the listing of videos also on smartphone screens – after all, about 70% of YouTube users access the service via mobile devices.
The correct parameters for a thumbnail are:
- thumbnail size: 1280×720 pixels,
- format: .jpg, .png, .gif or .bmp,
- file size: max 2 MB.
When creating video thumbnails, it’s worth using, for example, graphic software Canva – it not only has a wizard with sizes appropriate for YouTube, but also templates.
Step 6 – Subtitles
Videos published on YouTube should also be enriched with subtitles. They will be useful when the user watches the video with the sound muted and facilitate the reception of deaf people. In addition, they are very important for the positioning of videos on YouTube – the platform’s algorithm likes videos with subtitles, preferably in several languages. We can add subtitles in different ways. The simplest is to place a simple transcription of the text in the video description. Then the user can read the content, but will not be able to watch the material at the same time. However, we can use a simple editor on YouTube and add subtitles to the video directly on the platform. We can mark when a given part of the text should appear on the screen and how long it should stay there, so it’s easy to synchronize the subtitles with the sound or we can also use an external tool and export the video file to YouTube in .srt file format. For the most important videos on our channel, it’s worth adding both a transcription in the description and subtitles in the material itself.
Step 7 – End Cards and Screens
Tabs and end screens can be compared to linking in the text to various tabs of the website or external services. They encourage viewers to read other videos, subscribe to a channel or go to an e-commerce website, but also, for example, allow you to conduct a survey.
Cards are properly formatted notifications that can be set at different points in the video using an editor with a timeline. When we turn on tabs on YouTube, the video content will include the so-called “trailers” which, when clicked, will take the user to another video, channel, etc., depending on the implemented link. Up to five tabs can be implemented in a single video. End screens work on the same principle, but they appear after the end of the video, as an element occupying the entire surface of the player. You can set an image of your choice as a background and place visually appealing links in them – for example, if you decide to enter a link to another video, its thumbnail will appear on the screen.
By taking advantage of the opportunities provided by tabs and end screens, we greatly increase the chance that the user will reach for other content we publish – especially if we combine it with relevant calls to action in the video. So this is a very important part of YouTube SEO.
YouTube SEO – An Easy Way to Increase YouTube Channel Visibility
At first, positioning videos on YouTube may seem difficult and time-consuming, but with a little practice, it does not take more than a few minutes to a dozen minutes (of course, it will take more to create a transcript, but it’s really worth adding). Compared to the time it takes to prepare a video, this is very little, and it can make the difference between the effort put into creating the video being worthwhile. Correct YouTube SEO generates more traffic, builds a more engaged group of users, and in addition, the video often gets better average ratings (ratio of round-ups to round-downs) than videos promoted for a fee. Could there be a better reason to start?