Video SEO for YouTube: A Quick Guide

YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, Google being the largest.

YouTube gets over three billion views per day, with endless hours of video being watched and the viewing statistics increasing by 50% each year.

By the time you’ve read this, about 48 hours worth of video would have already been uploaded to YouTube.

Considering all these, doesn’t it make sense that if you’re still not creating videos, uploading them to YouTube, and optimizing them for YouTube search, then you’re missing out on an excellent opportunity? It certainly does to me!

Okay, so now you know that properly optimized video content can indeed benefit your business and it would be foolhardy to ignore YouTube any more than you’ve already done. The next thing you need to do is learn more about how you can rank videos on YouTube. And because Google now owns YouTube, your YouTube optimization strategy will probably have your videos ranking on Google as well.

A Closer Look at YouTube Ranking Algorithms

Just like Google, YouTube also uses a complex set of ranking algorithms in choosing which videos to display. The site also takes a user’s unique viewing habits into consideration when it comes up with its search results. And again just like Google, YouTube regularly changes the factors that determine a video’s search ranking in hopes of always providing users with the most relevant results. There are generally two categories to which these ranking factors belong—content and user engagement.

Where content is concerned, you need to bear in mind that YouTube bots (or any search engine bots) cannot read the actual content of your video. You therefore need to tell the search engine what the video is about through your video title, description, tags, and transcript. Make sure your targeted keywords are in the title and that the title itself is both relevant and attractive; it should catch the attention of your target audience and tell them and the search engines what the video is all about.

You should also make the most of the video description portion by describing the video in detail. Again, it’s important to use your keywords here and to do so as naturally as possible. The more information you provide about the video, the better. You may also want to include a relevant and qualified link to aid in describing your video and give people a better idea of what it is about.

As for tags, it is a good idea to include at least ten for each video, with your targeted keywords included, of course. Include words that refer to everything that’s seen on the video, and remember that tags are plural-sensitive. This means you can use both the singular and plural versions of a word as tags. If you use “necktie” as a tag, for example, you can also include “neckties”. Don’t be stingy. Include as many tags as you want, provided they’re all relevant to the video.

Using Video Tags

It’s a good idea to include at least ten tags for each video, with your targeted keywords included, along with other words referring to anything found in the video.

If you’re like most people, then you probably aren’t aware that YouTube automatically keeps a written record of everything that’s said on a video uploaded to the site. This is true for every single video you upload to the site. The problem with this is that their transcription isn’t really that good. What you can do is transcribe the video yourself and then upload the transcription to your video as a text file. This should improve your video’s chance of getting indexed and ranking well.

Note as well that there is a constant demand for fresh content on the Internet. This means you can’t just upload new videos regularly; you also have to make sure your video content is always up-to-date. Freshness involves not just current topics, but also up-to-date styles and content delivery. The most popular type of YouTube videos are “how-to” videos. Even if you create a how-to video for topics that have been discussed many times before (e.g. how to knot a tie, how to decorate a cake, etc.), if you use an interesting new style and deliver your message in a hip manner, then your video still stands a good chance of getting appreciated.

Consistently churning out fresh and interesting videos can help you gain authority for your YouTube channel, and channel authority is another factor that can affect your search rankings. It may help to create a list of possible topics for your videos and then narrow it down by doing some research on what your target audience is seeking. Once you’ve got a workable list of topics on hand, you’d want to map out a schedule for creating, uploading, and promoting each video.

On-page YouTube Optimization

Before you upload a video, remember to give it a short file name. Remember as well to use hyphens and keywords in the file name in the same way you use them when you save a picture in code for Search Engine Optimization purposes. If you are just starting to establish a YouTube channel, then you should also remember to optimize the image you choose for your header. Take a JPEG file and then edit the title, description, and author properties of the file. Insert keywords wherever you can the same way you do with Meta descriptions and title tags.

The header section allows you to add links that lead to more information about the people behind the videos. It is generally a good idea to include links to your website and social media pages as well as to any sister channels you may have and to authority sites you use for reference. You can add as many as 14 links, so maximize the opportunity by including as many relevant links as possible. And it goes without saying that the description you write for your channel should include your main keywords. Make sure the description is well-written, isn’t too spammy, and provides a good overview of your YouTube channel.

Using Relevant Links

You are allowed to add as many as 14 links in the header section, so include as many relevant links as possible.

Did you know that YouTube allows you to create several playlists in one channel? Take advantage of this feature. Instead of lumping all of your videos into a single playlist, categorize and upload them into several playlists. You can make this process easier by identifying the categories at the time you create your list of topics for the videos. The categories identified in your content schedule will then serve as the name for the different playlists in your channel. If you have sister channels, then you may share some playlists and cross-pollinate videos to build internal links and gain further exposure for your videos.

You can also add more keyword-rich text by being the first to comment on the video. You could, for example, add an afterthought to the description or simply add a comment to encourage viewers to share their thoughts about the video. And speaking of sharing their thoughts, the comments section is where you can freely engage with your viewers. As mentioned earlier, engagement is the second category to which YouTube ranking factors belong. It is therefore important for you to address your viewers’ comments and queries, and encourage discussion for each of your videos.

Engaging with your audience in this manner also encourages them to watch more of your videos and maybe even share them on social media. And this actually works both ways. You can also facilitate further engagement by sharing your videos on your social media pages and addressing comments and queries on those pages. This will effectively put into motion a beneficial cycle of engagement and social sharing.

Here’s a bit of warning: YouTube is very good at identifying spam, so don’t try to be clever by posting a boatload of comments on your own videos. Rather, you should gain more comments and positive ratings by responding to comments on your videos and making sure your videos are all of excellent quality. Who knows, a video might make such a mark on a particular viewer that he actually creates a video response! And hey, if you know your videos are always top-quality, you won’t even be ashamed to ask outright for comments and video responses.

Off-Page YouTube Optimization

Make sure your videos are easy to embed on other sites because getting authority websites to embed your videos sends a clear signal to YouTube that yours is a channel to contend with when it comes to quality videos. You’ll also want to make an extra effort to earn quality links to improve your ranking and one very effective way to do this is to be active on social media. When people talk about your videos and share them on social sites like Facebook and Twitter, YouTube takes this to mean that your videos are indeed top-notch and will likely reward you with top rankings as well.

Whatever strategy you decide to use, whatever topics you cover, and whatever video style you employ, keep in mind the reason why you’ve chosen to establish a YouTube channel in the first place. What purpose is your channel supposed to serve? Who are you creating videos for? When you focus on the answers to these questions and follow the tips above, you aren’t likely to go wrong.

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