YouTube is seen mainly as a video hosting site and there is nothing wrong with that. After all, it IS a video hosting site. But what many do not realize is that it is also a search engine. In fact, it is now the world’s second largest search engine, the largest being Google, of course. Considering this, it is easy to understand how much YouTube can impact your search rankings and how important it is (or should be) to your search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns.
• About 100 hours of content is uploaded on YouTube every minute.
• More than 4 billion videos are viewed on the site every single day.
• There are about 800 million unique visits on the site each month.
• About 50% of Internet users visits YouTube
Even if you view YouTube only as a video hosting site, the above statistics definitely show that it pays to leverage the site for SEO. You can set up a YouTube channel and use that as the hub of all the video content you create. Whether you post the videos on your website, social media pages, and blog, or simply upload it to your YouTube channel, they can definitely help you gain more brand visibility online.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that creating excellent video content isn’t enough to get higher search rankings and better online visibility. It is, of course, imperative that you create excellent content, but that’s not the only thing you can and should do for your brand. You should also make sure your YouTube videos are properly optimized. Proper optimization helps ensure that your videos stand among the hundreds of thousands of videos uploaded each day.
Okay, so exactly what does proper optimization entail? Before we get into the nitty-gritty of YouTube optimization, perhaps it is only prudent to learn more about how the site ranks the videos uploaded to it. There are several areas YouTube looks into when it ranks videos, so you should take these areas into consideration when you make your videos. These areas are flagging, views and frequency, likes and dislikes, shares, subscribers, annotation linking, and favorites.
There is no hierarchy where these areas are concerned, which means no area is deemed more important than the others. You therefore have to place equal important on them when you optimize your videos. Here are some tips on how you can make sure the videos you worked so hard to create are discovered, viewed, shared, and given top rankings:
1. File Name
The first step towards properly optimizing your YouTube videos is in making sure the file name and the video title match. And once you’ve ensured that the title and file name are exactly the same, you also have to make sure the words in the file name are separated from each other by a hyphen. What you basically need to do is copy and paste the video title and then put a hyphen in the spaces between the words. For example, if you have a video entitled “YouTube Optimization Tips,” your file name for the video should be “YouTube-Optimization-Tips.”
Keywords are always important where search is concerned. After all, you need to make sure your videos come up in the results for searches related to what you have to offer in terms of both products and information. Be sure to choose the right keywords and then use them in your video titles and descriptions. When you decide on the topics you should cover in your videos, you do some research on what your target audience is interested in, right? That should also give you a good idea as to what keywords to incorporate in your video titles and descriptions.
When you write the description for a video, it is often a good idea to include your target keywords in the first few sentences. That is because only the first few words of your description gets shown above the “show more” tab. Remember as well that your keywords should be used such that the narrative still flows naturally. It is also a good idea to customize your videos’ URLs and insert keywords there as well.
3. Tagging and categorization
In the process of uploading your videos on YouTube, there will be a point where you’ll have the option of uploading each video under a particular category. This is a major step that’ll help make your videos easier to discover, so be sure not to skip it. You should also be very careful in choosing the categories under which your videos will be uploaded. Remember that YouTube and other search engines do not understand video content, but they do understand words, which is why it is essential to associate your videos with the right kinds of word.
Tagging is also important because it helps set your videos apart from the millions of others in the same category. It is advisable to include brand keywords in your tags and to make sure every single tag you associate with a video is relevant to its content. Avoid irrelevant tags, no matter how tempting they are, because they can only hurt your optimization efforts.
As mentioned earlier, it is important for your video title to contain keywords that are relevant to the video content. You should also remember to limit your title to about 50 characters, including spaces. Of course, you should also make sure the title is creative and catchy enough to stand out among thousands of similar titles and videos. It is also worth noting that YouTube now places more value on watch time (the length of time a viewer watches your video), and the relevance of the title to the video content often affects watch time.
5. Video Description
YouTube provides you with enough space for a lengthy description; you’ll be ill-advised NOT to make use of it. Make the best of the video description section by leading with a link to your website or any other website relevant to the video. After the link, write a short (160 characters maximum) general description where your target keywords are included. This is the part that shows up in search results. You may then continue with a more detailed description.
YouTube allows you to add interactive commentary to your videos. These can be in the form of a speech bubble, a spotlight, or a note. You can even pause the video at certain points for emphasis. Some brands use this feature sparingly because they feel that it makes them seem unprofessional. But it can be very useful to your viewers, provided you learn how to use it wisely. The best news is that you can link your annotations to other videos, to playlists, and to your channel.
7. Call to Action
The reason why you create videos is to gain more brand visibility, right? But should you stop at getting people to watch your videos? Definitely not! Your videos should also help get more visitors to your website and—hopefully—improve your conversion rates. This is why it is important to have strong calls to action within each video you upload to YouTube. You can place the call to action right after the content or towards the end of the video via annotations.
Organize your channel by grouping videos according to the topics they cover. Be sure to create a keyword-focused title for each of your playlists and create a complete and accurate description for it. The beauty of playlists is that they are indexed separately from videos, which means you get another chance of appearing on a YouTube search results page. Additionally, users can subscribe not only to your channel, but also to particular playlists on your channel. Subscribers are notified whenever a new video is added to a playlist, thereby increasing the chances of the video being viewed.
There are many features you can use for free on YouTube, and you should take advantage of them for branding purposes. You can, for example, customize the background and header of your YouTube channel. You can also showcase links to your website, blog, or social media pages. Branding helps provide consistency in your viewers’ experience, regardless of the type of video they’re watching or the topic covered in the video.
10. Social Profiles
YouTube is a video hosting site. It is also a video sharing site. But you shouldn’t limit video sharing to YouTube. You need to take advantage of your other social media accounts and pages as well. Connect your social media accounts by sharing your YouTube videos there. This reflects the kind of social professionalism many people appreciate and is likely to earn viewers’ trust and loyalty.
Used in the right manner, YouTube can be one of the most important tools that help you boost not only your search rankings, but the performance of your business as a whole. Go the extra mile when you create and upload those videos. It’s worth it.