Learn everything there is to know about YouTube SEO. Learn what it is, why it is important, and what factors you should consider. Learn and comprehend the key elements that will boost your YouTube SEO, such as keywords and phrases, titling, thumbnails, and more.
By following this guide, you may be able to improve your ranking not only on YouTube but also on Google.
You’ve probably heard it all by now. YouTube is the second most popular search engine after its parent company, Google. Every minute, 500 hours of video are uploaded to the site. There are 2 billion active monthly users.
YouTube is, in many ways, the new television. So, why aren’t you optimizing your videos in this manner?
For many people, SEO has always meant optimizing your website’s links and written-word articles for Google rankings. When it comes to YouTube videos, however, SEO is just as important, if not more so. Even if you conduct a Google search, YouTube videos will appear in the search results.
With today’s saturation and noise levels, it can be difficult to get people to watch your video. We’ve put together the complete YouTube SEO guide below so you can learn how to properly rank YouTube videos and start attracting a larger audience.
How To Improve Your YouTube SEO Guide - Tips & Tricks To Increase More Viewers and Subscribers
Consider The Following When Trying To Rank On Youtube
When considering how to rank YouTube videos and improve your YouTube SEO, there are a few key factors to consider.
YouTube has stated that audience retention (how long people watch your videos) is one of their primary ranking factors. The more time, the better. They consider the following:
- The average duration of all of your videos’ views.
- Top videos or channels are ordered by watch time.
- Data on audience retention for specific videos over various periods
- When compared to the average for similar videos, audience retention for your video
They’re also looking into other aspects of engagement. We touched on this briefly in our article on How to Start a YouTube Channel. These elements are as follows:
- Comments on video
- Subscriptions (how many subscribe after watching the video)
- Shares of video
- Rate of click-through
- The likes-to-dislikes percentage
With these considerations in mind, let’s look at some of the various ways we can improve your YouTube SEO.
The power of keywords
When it comes to learning how to optimize YouTube videos, one of the most important factors (which you’ve probably already heard about) is keywords.
Keywords for SEO are the keywords (or phrases) within your web content that allow people to find your content using search engines like Google and YouTube.
When you use keywords correctly in your YouTube video, it effectively “speaks the same language” as those who browse YouTube and Google, making it easier for viewers to find your video.
Are you stumped as to how to come up with keywords? Don’t be concerned. There are some excellent YouTube SEO tools available to help you identify keywords and phrases that are relevant to your video and competitive in the space in which you compete.
Consider TubeBuddy, a free browser extension that integrates directly into YouTube. You can use their keyword explorer to look up different keywords and see how competitive they are. It assigns a score based on search volume, competition, and optimization strength, as well as the number of results for the keyword. It also displays the most frequently used tags as well as other closely related keywords and phrases.
Ahrefs Keywords Explorer is another option. It’s another excellent option that allows you to narrow down your keyword search by search engines, including YouTube. They have a massive database of over 7 billion keywords, which is updated monthly with new data from 171 countries.
Using their explorer, you can discover information such as a keyword’s monthly search volume, the number of clicks it has received, related keywords, and much more.
Even if you don’t have any of these handy YouTube SEO tools, you can keep things simple by simply typing in a search item on YouTube. You’ll quickly notice how the auto-complete suggestions highlight some of the most popular search results. Take note of this. When you install Keywords Everywhere, you’ll get more information about competition and search volume.
To add keywords to your YouTube channel, go to the YouTube Studio, select Settings, and then Channel. Enter your desired keywords, separated by a comma. If your keyword contains more than one word, surround it with quotation marks (“”).
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Rename the video file
If you’re wondering how to rank YouTube videos, renaming your video file to include the keyword is critical. Remember that YouTube cannot physically watch your video to determine its relevance to the target keyword (imagine the workforce it would take.)
The platform can read the file name of your video as well as all of the code. It may appear ridiculous, but trust us when we say that it works. If you made a cinematic drone film in Los Angeles, call it ‘Cinematic-drone-film-Los-Angeles.MOV’.
In the video title, include your keyword
Sure, this appears to be a no-brainer, doesn’t it? However, you’d be surprised at how many people fail to use this simple trick.
What is the first thing you look at when you search YouTube? The preview (more on that later), as well as title People, will not click to watch if the title is not compelling, is too long, or is irrelevant to the search term.
Make sure to include the keyword in your title optimization. It goes without saying that you should make certain that it is a natural fit. A winning title is one that tells the viewer exactly what the video is about in a short, concise manner (ideally no more than 60 characters, to avoid being truncated).
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This one is directly from Youtube. YouTube’s official Creator Academy recommends using tags to A) inform your audience about the video’s subject matter but, more importantly, B) inform YouTube about the video’s subject matter.
It’s no secret that the platform and its algorithms use tags to understand the video’s content and context. As a result, the algorithms understand how to associate your video with other similar videos. Remember that appearing in the suggested videos sidebar is an extremely valuable and significant source of views for your channel!
When it comes to choosing tags, start with the keywords you’ve chosen. Include a few longer phrases as well. We’ve discovered that questions perform exceptionally well. For instance, ‘how do I…? ‘ or ‘where can I find…?’ ’
Take note of your video description
Another sure-fire way to help your video appear in the suggested videos sidebar next to videos covering similar content to yours is to optimize your description.
Furthermore, it has been proven that tailored video descriptions help attract views from Google search results when determining how to rank YouTube videos on Google. You may have some success if you use search terms that are searched on Google rather than just YouTube in your video description.
It’s best to incorporate your chosen keywords or phrases naturally within a few sentences that summarise what the video is about. In other words, consider this an expanded version of your title. You have a little more leeway, but you still want to keep it brief, concise, and to the point.
Remember that YouTube only displays the first two or three lines of a description. If the viewer wishes to continue reading, they must click ‘show more’. As a result, ensure that the most important part of the description appears in the first few words or sentences.
Use the remaining space to include important information such as links back to your website, links to your other social media sites, brand information, hashtags, and so on. But you don’t have to rewrite the same information for each new video. Use the video templates to include any basic information you’d like to include in each video. Then, as needed, make changes to each video.
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The thumbnail is the most important thing in this article
Take note of your thumbnail. The thumbnail is more important than anything else you’ll read here today. That can be a difficult concept to grasp, so here’s why it matters.
The thumbnail, along with the title and keywords (which we’ve already discussed), is the first thing viewers see in their search results.
Simply by looking at the thumbnail, they have decided whether or not to click and watch your video within 1 or 2 seconds. Why? Because when someone visits YouTube, they are expecting to see videos and visual content. They’re making a decision with their eyes.
While YouTube provides auto-generated thumbnails from the video, we strongly advise creating a custom image. You can send a clear message to the viewer about what your video is about and why they should click to watch by uploading a custom thumbnail that represents your video’s content well, attracts people’s attention, and heightens intrigue (a keyword or two can’t hurt either).
We recommend checking out Canva which is a fantastic platform for creating strong and engaging custom thumbnails.
Another important aspect of how to optimize YouTube videos is to categorize them. When uploading a video, you can categorize it under things like ‘Music,’ ‘Films and animation,’ or ‘People and blogs‘ in the ‘Advanced settings‘ section.
Categorizing works in the same way as other aspects of optimization, ensuring that your YouTube video is grouped with other videos covering the same topic and content. You’ll get more exposure if it’s suggested in the sidebar or added to a playlist.
It’s also worthwhile to look at the top creators and best-performing videos in each category to see what works best for them. You may notice similarities in production quality, video length, and format, for example. Furthermore, easily discernible patterns may emerge from the audiences of these channels.
If you can pinpoint what makes top-performing channels in specific categories so successful, you can improve the chances of your video performing well in YouTube SEO.
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End screens and information cards
Info cards are an excellent way to engage and retain your audience’s attention while also increasing brand awareness and channel growth. You can include up to 5 info cards, of which there are six different types, in each video you upload:
- A card that connects to another YouTube channel (useful for collaborations)
- Cards that encourage charitable giving
- A link to a website such as GoFundMe or Patreon encourages your audience to support the channel.
- A link to another website (perhaps you’re selling something?)
- Cards that pose a question to viewers and allow them to vote (great for engagement)
- Links to other YouTube videos you’ve created, as well as entire playlists (more on that later)
Furthermore, it is prudent to make use of the end screen. You can tie things up with a visual prompt to the viewers reminding them to subscribe to your channel or do any of the other things mentioned above with info cards during the last 15-20 seconds of your video.
Remember, if the audience has made it all the way to the end, it’s likely they enjoyed your content, and with YouTube viewing durations increasing rapidly, it can’t hurt to encourage and prompt them to watch another one of your videos.
Creating your own YouTube playlists is another great way to improve your YouTube SEO. They can contribute to what is known as the ‘snowball effect.’
We’d bet you’ve been here before: you watch one YouTube video, enjoy it, realise it’s part of a playlist, and then continue watching through that series of videos.
Creating playlists encourages users to keep clicking and scrolling through your related videos. Naturally, this increases the number of views on your videos, and it has been shown to improve their ranking in search results when compared to standalone videos.
To learn more, read our in-depth article on how to be a successful Youtube content creator.
Remember the key points we mentioned at the start of this article? YouTube is always looking for ways to get people to interact with your videos.
Don’t be afraid to remind viewers to like the video and follow the channel for more content. If they like what you do, they’ll be happy to support and promote the channel in this way.
Don’t forget to address them directly in your videos; ask them questions and encourage them to participate in the discussion by leaving a comment below.
Take the time to grow your audience and participate in the comments as well! Take the time to respond if people take the time to watch AND comment on a video. And don’t just send them an ’emoji.’ Be honest, and get to know the people who are taking time out of their day to watch something you’ve made.
The YouTube algorithms will notice if your audience turns off 30 seconds into a 12-minute video. Videos with a high audience retention rate perform significantly better in YouTube SEO. As a result, you must ensure that your viewers stay and watch as much of the video as possible.
Begin by hooking them in the first 3-5 seconds of the video, either by giving them a taste of what’s to come later on or by immediately demonstrating that this video is exactly what they expected when they read your title and saw your thumbnail. (Have you ever noticed how movie trailers frequently begin with a few seconds of the best action before moving on to the main trailer? You can see why now.)
Captions and Subtitles why add them? It all comes down to those enigmatic keywords.
Because the important keywords have been highlighted, using subtitles and closed captions in your videos can improve YouTube SEO results.
To accomplish this, you must upload a supported text transcript or timed subtitles file (or enter the transcript text for a video so that it auto-syncs). We highly recommend using a site like Rev, which can handle all of your subtitle and transcript needs at a very reasonable price and with lightning-fast turnaround.
If people don’t know your channel exists how will they find it? One way of doing this is by including a link to your video or channel in your email signature can be a powerful traffic generator. You never know who will click through and watch, or what they will do with the video and your channel afterward.
It’s a good idea to link to your most recent video or channel wherever you can (without spamming your network, of course). This includes including the link in your Instagram and Twitter bios, including it in your email signature, and even embedding blog videos on your website.
This final point establishes another link between your website and the video, which Googlebot will consider and analyze when determining how to rank YouTube videos on Google.
So there you have it, our comprehensive guide to optimizing YouTube SEO. It may appear to be a daunting exercise at first, but don’t let that deter you. You can make significant progress with your channel and videos by utilizing various YouTube SEO tools and the tips we’ve provided here. It’s well worth the effort and time.
For further YouTube Help, check out our articles that include how to monetize YouTube videos and the lowdown on YouTube upload quality.
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About the author: Trent (IMDB | Youtube) has spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.