Only a decade ago, inbound marketing was a novel concept. Marketing professionals began to realize that high-volume content was not enough — it also had to be high-quality and optimized in a way to make it more discoverable through search engines.
In the past, that content was largely written. In today’s world, that’s not the case.
The modern content strategy includes written work, such as blogs and ebooks, as well as media, including podcasts, visual assets and videos.
That last part — video — continues to be on the rise. According to the 2021 State of Inbound report by HubSpot shows that 45% of marketers are investing more in YouTube over the course of this year — more than any other marketing channel available to them.
The rise of new forms of content has also necessitated their optimization for search. YouTube is a video sharing website used by the masses that is an increasingly important place to do this.
But how does YouTube SEO work? What are the steps you need to take to optimize your YouTube channel for search? That is what we are going to discuss in this blog. So without waiting further, let’s dive in!
YouTube SEO Tips
More people visit YouTube than there are people in the world (8.56 billion visits per month). YouTube is an incredibly valuable component of any content marketing strategy, and by not incorporating it into yours, you are missing out on an enormous opportunity for growth.
- Youtube has over 2 billion monthly active users ( CNe) which means you can expand your brand’s reach no matter what niche you are in.
- YouTube is the second most popular social media channel for sharing content after Facebook, with 62 percent of businesses using it for video content.
- Due to YouTube’s prominence as a search engine, it’s important for companies to know its own set of SEO best practices to have their video content appear highly on the SERPs.
Below are some tips to gain more traffic, subscribers, and views.
1. Rename your video file using a target keyword.
As with writing content, you’ll use an SEO tool to identify keywords you want your video to focus on (you’ll find popular YouTube SEO tools below these tips, to learn more about keyword research, we have written an extensive article about it. Check “The Beginners Guide To Keyword Research” out!).
As soon as you identify a keyword, the first place you should put it is your video file — even before uploading to YouTube. Why? Since YouTube cannot physically view your video, you’ll need to insert this keyword on the viewing page only a few times once you have posted the video to get the best results. However, YouTube can read your video’s file name and all the code when it’s uploaded.
With that in mind, replace the filename of the video to be more relevant to your content. For example, if the filename of your video is “digital marketing_003FINAL.mov” file name (don’t be embarrassed … we’ve all been there during post-production) with your desired keyword like “digital marketing tips”. If your keyword is “YouTube SEO tips” for example, your video’s file name should be “gain more views with these YouTube SEO tips” followed by your preferred video file type (MOV, MP4, and WMV are some of the most common that are compatible with YouTube).
2. Insert your keyword naturally in the video title.
Whenever we are searching for videos, our eyes are drawn to the title. A compelling title is what often determines whether or not a viewer clicks to watch a video, so make sure that you make it both clear and concise.
It also helps if your video title closely matches the search term the viewer entered. Keywords play an important role in your video title. According to Backlinko research, videos with an exact keyword match in the title have only a slight edge over those without. The data of this research is represented in the linear graph below:
According to the Backlinko report author, Brian Dean, “use of your target keyword in your video title may help you rank for that term, but there isn’t always a tie between keyword-rich titles and rankings.” Nevertheless, you should optimize your title for this keyword so long as it fits naturally within a title that describes exactly what viewers will be seeing.
The final thing you should do is keep your title fairly short – Google recommends keeping it between 60 and 70 characters so that it doesn’t get cut off in search results.
3. Optimize your video description.
As of Google’s official character limit, the text of YouTube videos can have up to 1,000 characters. You can use all of the space in your post, but keep in mind that your viewer came here to see a video, not read an essay.
In the case that you do write a longer description, at most YouTube will display the first two or three lines — about 100 characters. After that point, viewers must click “show more” to see the full description. That’s why we recommend you put the most important information first, such as a call to action or a crucial link.
To improve the video itself, adding a transcript wouldn’t hurt, especially if the video has to be viewed at low volume. In addition, Backlinko’s research found that optimized descriptions for a particular keyword did not correlate with its ranking.
Although the report is careful not to advocate scrapping optimized descriptions altogether, it does not encourage that. According to the report, “ideally, your description should appear in the recommended videos sidebar,” which is a key source of viewers for most channels.
4. Tag your video with popular keywords that relate to your topic.
YouTube’s official Creator Academy recommends adding tags to your videos to explain what they’re about. However, not only are you informing your viewers — you’re also informing YouTube. Tags are used by the platform so it can understand the video’s content and context.Using this method, YouTube can find similar videos to associate with your content, which helps it reach more people. But choose your tags carefully. If you think using an irrelevant tag will increase views, Google might actually penalize you. In the same vein as your description, focus on the most important keywords, combining some that are well-known with those that are more long-tail (answers to questions such as “how do I?”).
5. Categorize your video.
Once a video has been uploaded, it can be categorized under “Advanced settings.” Choosing a category helps your video wind up in similar playlists and gain exposure to more viewers who identify with your audience.
It might not be as simple as it looks. YouTube’s Creator Academy recommends that marketers determine the category for each video through an extensive process. Rather than focusing on what works well for one category, the guide suggests thinking about what works well for each category you’re considering by answering questions like:
- Which creators are the best in the category? Who are they and what are they known for?
- Do similar audiences across channels within a given category exhibit any patterns?
- What are the common factors among videos within a category, such as the production value, the length, or the format?
6. Upload a custom thumbnail image for your video’s result link.
As viewers scroll through a video results list, their main focus is on the thumbnails of your videos. This thumbnail, along with the video’s title, transmits information about the video to viewers, so it can impact how many views and clicks your video receives.
Although you are always free to pick one of the YouTube thumbnail options, we strongly recommend uploading your own thumbnail. Creator Academy reports “90% of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails,” and recommends using images that are 1280×720 pixels in size, representing a 16:9 aspect ratio, that are 2MB or smaller. It can help to ensure that your thumbnails appear similarly excellent across multiple platforms if you follow those parameters.
In order to create a custom thumbnail image, your YouTube account has to be verified. You can do this by visiting youtube.com/verify and following the instructions there.
7. Use an SRT File to add subtitles & closed captions.
Closed captions and subtitles can increase YouTube search optimization by highlighting important keywords, in the same way as much of the text we discuss here.
You will need to upload a timed subtitles file or a text transcript in order to add subtitles or closed captions to your video. In the former case, you can also directly add transcript text, so that the text auto-synchronizes with the video.
Subtitles are added via a similar process, though there is the option to limit the amount of text displayed. To add either, go to “Videos” under “Video Manager.” Click the edit button next to the video you’d like to add subtitles or closed captioning to. Select “Subtitles/CC” next. You can then select the way you want to add subtitles or closed captions.
8. Add Cards and End Screens to increase your YouTube channel’s viewership.
Did you ever see an “i” icon or translucent bar of text appearing in the corner of a video as you watched it? The Creator Academy indicates that these are Cards. Creator Academy describes them as “preformatted notifications available on desktop and mobile that can be configured to promote a brand or other videos on your channel.”
A video can have up to five cards, and there are six types:
- A channel card that directs viewers to another channel.
- Donation cards to encourage fundraising on behalf of nonprofit organizations.
- Fan funding to ask your viewers to help support the creation of your video content.
- Link cards, which direct viewers to an external site, approved crowdfunding platform, or an approved merchandise selling platform.
- Poll cards, which pose a question to viewers and allow them to vote for a response.
- Video or playlist cards, which link to other YouTube content of this kind.
For detailed steps on adding a card to your video, follow these official steps from Google.
Unlike cards, end screens display information at the end of the video rather than immediately before it ends, and are more visually detailed. A good example would be the overlay with the book’s image and a visual link to see more in the video below:
YouTube provides instructions for adding end screens to videos based on the type of platform and content you plan to use it with. Google details how to optimize for each of these considerations here.
In order to optimize the viewer experience, YouTube always tests end screens, so your designated end screen may not appear at times. Keep these factors in mind as you choose between cards and end screens.
Although these factors may seem complicated and time-consuming, remember this: People spend more than twice as much time on YouTube as they did last year. There’s an audience out there to be discovered, and you’ve got a better chance of being discovered with YouTube optimization.
YouTube SEO Tools
The majority of the SEO tips above rely on identifying a keyword and promoting your video properly. And not all of those tips can be carried out through YouTube alone. Take advantage of some of the tools below to optimize your video for search so you can get the most out of your videography.
In addition to optimizing a website’s ranking and estimating organic traffic from keywords, Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO platform that allows you to research and create new content for keywords.
Keywords Explorer is one of Ahrefs’ most popular features, which allows you to find out all the details of any keyword you’re interested in. Furthermore, you can filter your results by search engine — including YouTube, as shown above.
Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer shows you how many clicks a keyword receives, related keywords, and a keyword’s monthly search volume.
Canva is likely known for its design templates for making cards, photos, and more. It just so happens that this popular application also includes a Thumbnail Creator for YouTube videos.
As mentioned in the tips above, thumbnail images are crucial to your content’s visibility in YouTube’s search results and to enticing viewers to click on your video. Canva’s Thumbnail Creator makes it easy for you to create the perfect thumbnail for your video with its 1280 x 720 pixel size — the size YouTube requires.
HubSpot Content Strategy Tool helps you discover popular keywords and organize these keywords into “topic clusters.” By organizing your content into topic clusters, you can see which pieces of content are related, what types of content you have planned, and what content you have already created.
You will find that the HubSpot keywords you use reflect their popularity in a standard Google search. However, many of these topics will also appear on pages of Google’s search results for videos. It is possible to create topic clusters consisting of both blog and YouTube content in those cases.
In addition to improving your authority in the eyes of Google and YouTube, clustering your content can improve your chances of capturing traffic from people searching your topic.
4. vidIQ Vision
This is a Chrome extension, available through Chrome’s web store, that helps you analyze how and why certain YouTube videos perform so well. Among these are the tags a video has been optimized for, how long it takes to watch, and even how quickly it gains traffic.
VidIQ provides an SEO ranking so you can create content based on what’s already performing (or outperforming) on YouTube.
Rather than creating multiple YouTube accounts, TubeBuddy is a totally integrated solution for managing your YouTube content, including production, optimization, and promotion. Among its features are an automatic language translator (that aids you in ranking for non-English keywords), keyword suggestions, a YouTube rank tracker, and more.
Cyfe is a large software suite that offers, among other things, a web analytics platform. In this platform, you can track the performance of your pages across all website properties that you publish content on, including YouTube, and determine where the traffic is coming from for each page.
Besides traffic analytics, Cyfe may also be able to display which keywords are ranking for you and which are popular among various search engines. It sounds a lot like Google Analytics or Moz, doesn’t it? That’s because Cyfe has data from both of those tools, and more, built into it.
There are so many great YouTube SEO tools out there that there is no way we can include them all here. As such, to learn about more YouTube SEO Tools, check out this blog.
An official YouTube channel gives your brand a chance to connect with the billions of hours of videos watched every day on the platform.
For your YouTube channel to be successful, you must produce content that is well-optimized for the people watching your videos. We should optimize for viewers, not robots, as digital marketers say. Since the robots are following the viewers, we should do the same.
In order to achieve YouTube channel success, you need to create great content in the first place. It includes the creation of high-quality videos and captivating titles and thumbnails as well.
No matter what YouTube optimization tips or tools you use, creating quality content is fundamental for a successful YouTube channel. You should make sure that your viewers are able to watch something high-quality and relevant when they come across you.
Increase Your YouTube SEO Outreach With Damex Digital!
As with all things, learning YouTube SEO Tips and YouTube SEO strategies and using them to their fullest takes time. Precious time which you may not have due to other matters regarding your business, family or maybe you wish to use that time to produce more content, whatever the reason maybe.
The shortage of time has resulted in most people neglecting or completely abandoning optimization to increase their YouTube views. The mistake they make is to think that they will attract viewers as long as they create a greater quantity of content.
Even though producing more and more content can attract viewers in the short term, your time is lost over time. The YouTube SEO strategies will help you get a higher number of viewers in a shorter amount of time.
Therefore, if you lack the time to learn YouTube SEO from the ground up, you should hire professionals to do it for you! Damex Digital is a professional digital marketing agency based in Smithers, Canada providing comprehensive solutions to all your digital marketing problems— including YouTube SEO.
With us you get highly-skilled, professional YouTube SEO experts managing all aspects of your YouTube optimization. Leave the SEO and content optimization to us, while you take care of other matters pertaining to your business.
Get higher ROI, boost your viewer and subscription rates and increase your conversion rates with professional YouTube SEO and Digital Marketing services by Damex Digital!