When talking about search engine optimization (SEO), the first thing that comes to mind for most people is blog content, Google and its algorithms. But a good marketing strategy has to tackle multiple content channels and mediums and video on YouTube is one most people can’t afford to ignore.
With YouTube being the second biggest search engine on the planet, it’s crucial to acknowledge the power it holds as an outreach and discovery platform. Something as simple as a well-crafted explainer or an awesome product video can be the difference between someone finding you online and doing business with you and never even knowing you exist.
However, a great piece of content is only useful if people find it. And just like with any other search engine in the world, proper SEO is the key to connecting your content with your intended audience on YouTube as well!
In this piece, we’ll go over some optimization elements you should take advantage of and help you connect with bigger audiences using video content on the platform.
First and foremost, every marketing and optimization strategy relies on proper keyword usage. More often than not, when a potential client finds your website or one of your blog posts, they do so by searching keywords related to the topic you’re dealing with. The same thing happens when people use YouTube’s search function, so use it to your advantage!
By optimizing your titles and descriptions with relevant, well-researched keywords, you’re improving the chances of your videos ranking higher on the site’s results pages, which translates into more people easily finding you and your content.
A good place to start is to make a list of a bunch of keywords that best match your content and use one of the dozens of keyword research tools available online to rank them and choose one to be your primary keyword – this is usually a word that reflects the main topic of your video and a lot of people uses to find the type of content you are making. Use this keyword in your video title, and then craft a description that uses some of your other keywords cohesively in a text.
That said, remember those good descriptions are not there just to include keywords. They serve to summarize your video’s value and give further information about your brand. Include your social media handles and any other link that may be relevant to your audience, like your website. Also, consider that while long descriptions can help you tackle more keywords, that ‘see more’ button will cut your text if it’s too long. Try to place the most important information at the beginning of the description, and don’t go overboard with the long paragraphs.
View counts and watch time are two vital metrics YouTube considers when it comes to ranking your videos. And what better way to improve those metrics than to tailor your videos to become easier to binge-watch?
A few optimization tools that help you achieve this are Cards, End Screens, and Playlists.
With mobile devices increasingly being most users’ primary way to watch video content, it’s key to keep in mind you have to tailor your content accordingly.
Smaller screens mean that everything needs to fit in a tinier frame. Short titles are a better option for this very reason: There are fewer characters shown on a mobile screen than on a computer, so you want your audience to be able to read everything without having to guess what might come next.
Along these lines, your video’s thumbnail should also be simple, readable, uncluttered and distinctive even on a small screen. If it’s full of little details or you use a small font for whatever text they display, users won’t see it clearly and will be more likely to scroll past your videos. Thumbnails are the first thing people see when they’re picking what video to watch, so it’s important to use thumbnails that catch their attention.
YouTube lets you choose three auto-generated thumbnails when you’re uploading a video, but these are hardly ever ideal. Instead, create custom thumbnails with the tips we mentioned, and mobile users will be more likely to click on your videos. More clicks = more views, which improves your video’s chances of getting served to even more people.
Perhaps the most challenging part of video marketing is actually producing quality videos consistently. It can be hard to post content regularly that maintains the quality standards you’re aiming for and is also interesting for your viewers, but regular video uploads are a crucial step in your YouTube SEO efforts.
YouTube’s algorithm accounts for several key metrics when choosing what video to recommend to viewers, or how high they should position any given video in any given user query. While View Counts and Watch Time are the primary two, others like your channel number of subscribers or the amount of engagement (likes, shares) your latest videos have accrued also play a key role.
Consistent, regular video uploads on the platform are one of the most reliable ways to improve metrics like your channel’s subscribers. And while it might take some time and effort to get to the point where you are able to do so, it’s also a surefire strategy when it comes to improving your content’s placement on the platform.
We know it can be tempting to use a bit of clickbait in things like your titles and thumbnails, but it often does more harm than good in the long run. Yes, it might give you a higher click-through rate (the number of people who click on your link divided by the total number of visitors on a page) in the short term, but if you don’t deliver what you promised, it will also give you a huge bounce rate and keep people from coming back.
True YouTube video optimization doesn’t happen overnight, so you have to think about how certain moves affect your strategy in the long run: You want your audience to not only find your content but also engage with it, be captivated by it and hopefully become a subscriber or loyal viewer. A high CTR is worth nothing if those viewers don’t stay to see what you are uploading to the platform.
Do you know why virtually every YouTuber and content creator on the platform has a catchphrase about liking, subscribing and commenting? That’s because viewer engagement is another crucial metric when it comes to YouTube SEO. And it’s one of the most difficult ones to nurture since it doesn’t depend exactly on what you optimize for, but rather on what you convince your audience to do.
However, difficult is not impossible. A common practice to encourage engagement in your videos is to just ask your viewers to leave a comment answering a question or telling a story related to something you talked about. This is a more ‘natural’ action than asking them to just comment for the sake of it.
Regarding subscribers and likes, as you start on the platform, you can use them as incentives for future content. For example, you can commit to uploading a special video if you get to a certain number of subscribers or doing promotions and giveaways after a certain number of likes in a given video. However, you go about it, just know that engaging directly and clearly with your viewers is a great way to have them engage back!
While the purpose of YouTube SEO is to deliver gradual, steady growth to your channel and content, YouTube Ad Campaigns can give you a great way to jumpstart your growth on the platform.
YouTube allows you to configure who your ads will reach to the tune of location, language, age, gender and even income to match the characteristics of your intended target audience. Moreover, you can choose whether or not your ad will be shown on mobile phones (which is highly recommended, as we mentioned), the specific time frames in which it will be shown and the beginning and end of your campaign, among other things.
This level of customization means that if you understand the type of viewer you are trying to attract, you can create extremely targeted video ads that convince them to further engage with the rest of your content.
Without a doubt, videos are one of the best types of visual content when it comes to marketing. And if you want to include YouTube in your strategy, you need to make sure you are doing everything in your hands to give your content a chance to shine and reach more eyes!
Hopefully, after reading this guide, you are better equipped to tweak some aspects of your YouTube SEO efforts – whether by optimizing your thumbnails for mobile or by adding more keywords to your descriptions – and improve the overall performance your videos get on the platform! there’s always room for improvement in the ever-changing world of SEO!