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YouTube SEO is the process of optimizing and tweaking certain elements of your YouTube channel and videos. This includes adding tags to your videos, optimizing video titles and more. In this SEO for YouTube guide, you will learn how to improve your video rankings.
YouTube SEO should form part of every YouTube video creator’s strategy to improve video rankings and overall channel growth.
Not only that, with more brands and businesses publishing video content on YouTube, it’s getting more challenging to grow a channel and get more views. By implementing an effective YouTube SEO strategy, businesses and brands can gain an upper leg over other creators on YouTube.
In this article, you will learn what YouTube SEO is, why it’s important to have an SEO strategy for YouTube and we share the basics of SEO for YouTube.
So, if you’ve got your own YouTube channel or you’re part of a marketing team, then keep reading.
What is YouTube SEO?
YouTube SEO is the process of tweaking and optimizing different elements of a YouTube channel and videos in order to improve or increase rankings on the YouTube search results page.
In a nutshell, YouTube SEO consists of optimizing some of the following elements of a YouTube channel:
- Video title
- Video description
- Video metadata
- Channel description
Why is YouTube SEO Important for Brands and Creators
Did you know that YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world?
What used to be a platform for uploading videos has turned into a full-blown search engine and marketing platform.
Here are some insightful statistics about YouTube:
- More than 3 billion searches are processed every month.
- The platform is bigger than Bing, Yahoo, Ask and AOL combined.
- A total of 100 hours of video content is uploaded every minute. Do the math on that, it’s a LOT of video content, making it even more challenging to stand out from the crowd.
As YouTube is a search engine, much like regular SEO on Google, you must follow certain best practices if you want the YouTube algorithm to show your content for relevant search queries.
YouTube has a complex algorithm that ranks videos based on a number of factors. YouTube SEO aims to optimize the elements that make your video rank.
Brands and creators need to follow YouTube SEO best practices if they want their content and videos to rank for relevant searches on YouTube.
Not only does a YouTube SEO strategy help you increase your rankings on the platform, it also helps you compete in Google Search.
The two platforms are interconnected because Google bought YouTube a few years ago.
By improving your YouTube video rankings, you’ll also be increasing the odds of your video(s) showing up on Google search results.
YouTube SEO Step-by-Step
Now that you know the importance of following a YouTube SEO strategy, let’s talk about optimizing your YouTube channel and videos to get more views, clicks and higher rankings.
YouTube Keyword Research
The first stage of any YouTube SEO strategy begins with keyword research. Keywords are an essential part of YouTube’s search ecosystem.
Keyword research forms the foundation for a YouTube SEO strategy since you’ll be using them in different places on your channel.
Like regular keyword research for SEO, video keyword research aims to find the best keywords with high search volume.
You want to create videos based on topics people are interested in and searching for on YouTube.
So how do you conduct keyword research for YouTube?
You can use this free YouTube keyword tool from TubeRanker to find popular keywords related to your topic.
Another way to do keyword research for YouTube is by using the YouTube Search Suggestions in the search bar on the platform.
These search suggestions are great because they are the terms people have typed into YouTube to find videos.
You can also look at competing channels in your niche to find keyword ideas. For example, let’s imagine that you’ve got a YouTube channel on cooking.
Go to a competing channel and sort by “Most Popular”. This will reveal the most popular video on their channel. You can then see the keywords that they are using in their top-performing videos.
Armed with these keyword ideas, you can start planning which videos to create next and which keywords to use in the video title, description, etc.
Track YouTube Video Rankings
Creators and brands need to track the performance of their video rankings over time.
Knowing how your video rankings change will reveal whether or not your YouTube SEO efforts are effective.
What’s the use of spending time on YouTube SEO if you wouldn’t be able to know if your hard work has had an effect on your rankings?
You could probably track your video rankings manually, but that would be a very time-intensive and laborious process.
Instead, you can make use of a YouTube rank tracker tool to help you measure and track your video rankings.
Mention Target Keyword At the Start Of the Video
The next YouTube SEO tip you should implement in your videos is verbally mentioning your target keyword at the start of your video.
Because YouTube automatically transcribes your videos, it will pick up your target keyword if you verbally mention it at the start of your video.
This gives YouTube creators another way for them to add their target keyword to their videos to tell YouTube what their video content is about.
And when YouTube knows what your content is about, it can match your videos to relevant searches on the platform.
YouTube Video Title Optimization
The video title is one of the most important elements in improving video rankings because YouTube uses it to index and rank content.
Not only that, the video title is often the first thing that users see when browsing the search results, so it’s important to create a video title that is concise, descriptive and unique enough to get them to click.
Since you’ve done your keyword research beforehand, you’ll have no difficulty creating a keyword-optimized title for your YouTube video.
Your video titles must include the target keyword(s) you found while researching the keyword beforehand.
Creators should add their primary keyword as close as possible to the YouTube video title, with a variation thereof at the end of the title.
For instance, if our target keyword is “swim freestyle”, this would be an ideal video title. The target keyword is used at the beginning of the title, with a keyword variation at the end.
It’s important not to go too crazy adding your target keyword to the video title. You don’t want to sound like a robot when reading the title out loud.
Adding in the exact match of your target keyword once will suffice.
Add YouTube Tags to Videos
YouTube Tags are hidden metatags that users don’t see, these tags tell YouTube what your video is about so that they can index it and rank it appropriately.
It’s important not to get confused between Tags and Hashtags. The main difference between the two is that Tags aren’t visible, whereas Hashtags are visible and clickable.
So how do you use YouTube Tags in your YouTube SEO strategy?
Here are a few pointers on how you can create YouTube Tags that will help improve video rankings:
- Your first YouTube Tag should always be the exact match of your primary keyword. (E.g. “swim freestyle)
- Add multiple tags with different keyword variations. (E.g. “front crawl”, “freestyle swimming technique”, etc.)
- Add Tags that contain long-tail variations of your primary keyword. (E.g. “how to swim freestyle”)
Another strategy for creating YouTube Tags is to look at which Tags your competitors are adding to their top-performing videos.
Because YouTube Tags aren’t visible to users, viewing them without a YouTube tag extraction tool is difficult.
You can use the YouTube tag extraction tool from TubeRanker to find the hidden YouTube tags of any video.
Let’s imagine that you’ve got a YouTube channel on swimming and that you’ve created a new video on how to swim freestyle. You can use this tag extraction tool to find the Tags that your competitors are using.
You can use some of these words and phrases as YouTube Tags for your newly created video.
YouTube Video Description Optimization
The YouTube video description is another very important aspect of YouTube SEO.
The video description field allows a video creator to tell YouTube what the video is about. YouTube uses this field to understand the video’s context so that the algorithm can match the video to the most relevant search query.
The video description is not only for the YouTube algorithm but also for users of the platform. Creators can use the video description to give viewers a detailed summary of the video.
The first video description optimization tip is to add your target keyword as close to the start of your description as possible.
YouTube adds a snippet of the video description to the search results page, creators should therefore aim to include their target keyword as close as possible to the start of the video description, within the first 25 words is ideal.
Another tip for optimizing the video description is to add your target keyword and its variations throughout the text. But be careful not to “overload” the description with your primary keyword, as this may seem spammy and might get flagged by YouTube.
YouTube descriptions may be up to 5,000 characters long, but that doesn’t mean you should be utilizing all that space.
Remember to add hashtags related to your video's main topic to the bottom of your video descriptions too.
You can also use the video description as a place to add in timestamps of your video. This can help users navigate to the parts of the video they are the most interested in.
If you’re struggling to create a video description, you can utilize this TubeRanker’s description generator tool to help you create SEO-friendly content descriptions.
Add Target Keyword To File Name
The next YouTube SEO tip you should implement is changing the video file name to include your primary keyword.
Instead of uploading a video to YouTube with the original file name with random numbers and letters, for example, VID_32a, you should rename the file with a descriptive piece of text that includes your target keyword, something like how-to-swim-freestyle.
This should be done before you think of uploading it to YouTube.
Create a YouTube Playlist
Creating a YouTube playlist of similar or related videos can funnel viewers to consume more of your content.
Creating a playlist can help YouTube creators gain more Watch Time and it’s also good for YouTube SEO because playlists can also rank for your target keywords.
Boost Audience Engagement
Audience engagement is probably one of the most influential YouTube rankings signals.
Things like likes, comments, shares, saves and “subscribes” can help boost your audience engagement.
So when creating videos, remember to prompt action from your audience. You can mention things like:
- “Let us know when your thoughts are by commenting below”
- “Don’t forget to hit the Subscribe button and the bell icon to get notified when we upload new videos”
Embed YouTube Videos On Your Website
One of the ways to increase views and video rankings is to promote your videos on social media as well as on your own website.
Remember, your videos need views for the YouTube algorithm to determine if your videos are engaging. This has an impact on where your videos will rank on YouTube.
If you’ve got a WordPress website, you can easily add your YouTube videos to your website using this WordPress YouTube plugin from Elfsight.
This plugin allows you to embed YouTube videos anywhere on your WordPress website.
By sharing videos on social media and embedding videos related to the topics on your website, you can increase the number of views your videos have, which in turn will have an impact on your video rankings.
We hope you’ve found the tips in this guide on YouTube SEO helpful and insightful.
As we mentioned earlier, YouTube makes use of a complex set of algorithms to determine which videos to rank for certain search queries.
As a creator, you should continually test out which optimizations have the most significant impact on your video rankings and views.
And if you’re ever in doubt about what to do, just look at the top-performing videos and channels in your niche to better understand what works.
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