YouTube SEO: Get Started
Tips and Tricks To Get Your Videos Ranking and Visible
YouTube is a massive search engine. YouTube SEO helps you leverage that search engine to rank your videos. Here’s how to get started.
If you know anything about SEO (search engine optimisation), you probably already hold a deep belief in the power of Google. The Google algorithm is responsible for either sending traffic to your website (and therefore increasing your leads and revenue) or not sending traffic to your website, in effect rendering you digitally invisible.
While this is correct (in some ways), it’s deeply flawed in one major element: Google is not responsible for your website traffic. You are.
But wait… we’re here to talk about YouTube SEO. Yes, we are. The thing is YouTube works the same way. It’s a massive search engine, and the best way for your videos to be found and to rank well (and therefore to bring you leads and sales) is by utilising YouTube SEO.
YouTube is a Massive Search Engine
Just like Google, YouTube is a search engine—a very, very powerful search engine. In fact, it’s the second most-used search engine after Google, with more than 2 billion monthly active users.
These users aren’t just scrolling through the feed while stirring the pasta sauce anymore (though they do that as well!). They’re also utilising the search function to find the content that they want to view. They’re looking for ‘cute cat videos’ or ‘how to boil an egg’. And when you leverage those keywords for your video content you are much more likely to rank your videos and rank them well.
What is YouTube SEO
YouTube SEO is simply the process of creating videos (and content around those videos) that best answer the searches of real YouTube users. But for our purposes we can just think of it as the best way to make your videos more visible.
The YouTube algorithm is complex, just like other search engine algorithms. So of course, it takes into account many factors when it comes to ranking. Some of these are:
- metadata, titles and descriptions
- length of video
- number of subscribers and views
- amount of engagement, including likes, dislikes and comments
- hashtags and tags
When it comes to optimising your videos, these are the elements that you want to be working on improving. In addition, you want to be including relevant keywords that will improve your ranking ability overall.
Why It Matters
Getting your video to rank well matters. Research shows that the video in the number one position on YouTube search results gets viewed 74% more than the video in the second position. And the remaining videos fall off from there.
If you want to rank, and rank well, you need to understand YouTube SEO. Optimising your videos titles and descriptions not only increase your ability to rank, but also drive brand awareness and sales and give you increased reach.
Of course, this number can be impacted by other factors. For example, the length of your video. Let’s imagine someone is searching for ‘how to boil an egg’. You’ve put a video up, but it’s an eight-minute session where the viewer gets to see the egg boil in real time. Another video on the list is a three-minute ‘how to’ that walks through the steps without the real time commitment. It’s far more likely the three-minute video will rank over yours despite optimisation.
Get Started on YouTube SEO
Now that you understand what YouTube SEO is and why it matters, it’s time for you to get started. And the most important place to start is on your keyword research.
When it comes to optimising your YouTube videos your first step is to do some basic keyword research. Start with YouTube itself, using the search bar to autogenerate popular keywords. You begin by simply typing in a keyword that relates to your video’s topic.
For your boiling an egg video it might be, ‘boiling an egg’. You get the below results:
Then you might try, ‘how to boil an egg’, and you get the following results:
These are great places to start with keywords. Choose the top 10 that suit you best, then head over to Google. As a second step, you’ll want to determine whether this keyword has any video results on Google itself. If it does, fantastic. Now you’ve optimised for two search engines (giving you a second opportunity to draw in traffic). If not, you might want to keep looking.
Once the raw file is ready to go rename it so that it reflects your title and includes your keyword.
Use the keyword in the video
Once you’ve found the keyword, use it in the video (i.e., actually say it in the content). This makes it easier going forward. And certainly ensure that the content of the video is focused on that topic.
Titles and Descriptions
Use your keyword in your title and description. Best practice is to use the keyword at the start of your description or as early as you can without it sounding unnatural. Titles should include your keyword and also aim to solve your client or customer’s problem.Use your keyword in your title and description. Best practice is to use the keyword at the start of your description or as early as you can without it sounding unnatural.
Titles should include your keyword and also aim to solve your client or customer’s problem.
Add a transcription
You can either enter a transcript directly in your video or follow the steps that Google provides to create a transcript file. After you’ve created your file, amend with keywords and upload it to your video.
Add timestamps (hyperlinked citations to ‘key moments’)
This is essentially creating sections or chapters so a viewer can easily see what’s coming up and can even skip around if they need. Creating these is easier than you might think. And no one explains it better than YouTube themselves. Check out this video for more information.
Create impactful thumbnails
Your video’s thumbnail isn’t a ranking factor, but it still impacts your SEO. The better the thumbnail, the more clicks. More clicks means better engagement and engagement absolutely impacts your SEO. So make sure your thumbnail stands out, clearly tells the viewer what the video is about and looks to engage by solving the viewer’s problem.
Include tags and hashtags
Tagging is an important part of your YouTube SEO. You can utilise tagging to implement relevant keywords and get more views on your video. 10 to 12 is enough tags, and as few as three will sometimes do the job.
Encourage comments and subscribers
The more comments and subscribers you get the easier it will be to rank your videos and your future videos. It’s that simple.
Add cards (aka, end screens)
Cards give you an opportunity to cross promote to other videos that the viewer might also like and can feature a video, playlist, channel or link. They help you keep people on your channel, watching what you’re offering or moving onto the next thing on your particular agenda.
Adding cards is a bit technical, but easily doable once you’ve got the hang of it.
If this feels overwhelming, try not to get discouraged. Even if you’re just starting out and have only one subscriber (hi mum!), it’s worth doing and doing right. Take this list and just do one video at a time. Once you’ve got one done, the next will be easier and the next easier than that.
And of course, if you need any help with keyword research or YouTube SEO generally, get in touch. I’d love to help.