How do you ensure that when people search on Google or YouTube for a topic, it is your video that shows up? SEO to the rescue!
What is YouTube SEO?
YouTube SEO means optimizing your video for searches, such that if a person types in a few words related to the topics you have created videos for, your videos will show up in the search results.
If your videos show up at the top of search results, a larger number of people will view your videos, subscribe and comment to them; and eventually this will translate into more money from for you.
YouTube SEO step by Step Guide
The general principles of Google search optimization apply to YouTube – however there are some YouTube specific nuances to be aware of.
- Keywords are important for YouTube just as they are important for everywhere else. To generate a list of keywords, you can start typing in any keyword in YouTube and note the suggestions thrown up by autocomplete in the search box.
You can then head to Google Trends – and type in each of the suggested keywords. Google Trends has an option in the drop down specifically for YouTube to help identify how each keyword is trending. Choose some of these keywords to focus on.
- You can also get keyword suggestions from your competitors. Go to a channel run by someone in your niche. Sort their videos by most popular. Look for the keywords one of those videos uses in title, description and tags. You can get the tags information about a video using the VidIQ chrome extension.
- You can also use the YouTube traffic sources report when you sign in to YouTube channel (either Creator Studio or YouTube Studio beta). You may get some keywords with this that you may not have otherwise found elsewhere.
- Focus on low competition keywords – use Google Trends to sort keywords according to their popularity. Google Trends has a special filter for YouTube.
Another simple way of gauging a keywords popularity is searching on YouTube for your keyword and then looking at the “About results” number which shows up right below the search bar for that search keyword.
- Many people also search for YouTube videos via Google – so the work you do to optimize your videos on Google will also automatically rank it higher on YouTube.
Google typically ranks the videos with the following types keywords higher – reviews, how-to, lifestyle, fitness, sports, funny, tutorials. Finding these keywords is easy – just search on Google for a possible title of your video and then look at the titles of the top videos.
Use all these keywords you have identified in your title, description and tags.
- YouTube typically ranks those videos high which have a high retention rate, which means people have watched the whole of the video. There is no trick to get people to watch except that you should focus on making useful, engaging videos.
- As you optimize your videos for YouTube – check out the Analytics section in your channel (after you login) – specially pay attention to Watch Time which indicates how long people are watching your videos. The Watch Time gives an idea about retention rate of your videos.
- Number of views of your videos is another very important factor which influences its rank – videos which have higher views get ranked higher. To get views, you do the usual stuff – mention your video on Quora, Twitter etc., embed your video in your own blog posts, create playlists, use keywords you use for videos in your channel descriptions.
- Another very important video ranking factor is audience interaction which is measured by 5 things – number of comments, subscribes, video shares, video length (create longer videos) and click-through rate (after people have watched your video, do they watch another of your video next or someone else’s video).
- At the end of your videos, remember to include a call to action, requesting people subscribe or post comments.
- Longer videos are considered better (if they have retention rate) – since YouTube ideally wants people to keep watching videos, and it wants to compete with television channels with long programs.
- Make sure you choose a custom thumbnail which is intriguing for the viewer so he or she clicks on it. This will in turn lead to a higher rank.
- Create a custom video transcript – either upload separate text file or enter the transcript directly in the video using subtitles (dialogs of characters) and closed captions (notes about other things in the video soundtrack e.g. phone ringing).
- You can also create and upload a translated transcription which in turn adds SEO juice to your video.
- The freshness and frequency of your YouTube channel affects its discoverability.
- Aim to have higher YouTube embeds. Embed your video in your own blog posts and invite viewers to do the same.
When you release videos for YouTube make sure you are well prepared with a checklist incorporating everything we have discussed above. I have found that the first 48 hours on YouTube are crucial – if YouTube tags your video as low ranking – then it is very difficult to claw back up later by doing optimizations.