What is YouTube SEO?
YouTube SEO, as the name suggests, is optimizing your videos to rank higher in the YouTube search engine. Before learning how to perform YouTube SEO, let’s first get acquainted with the YouTube SERP.
When you type a keyword in the YouTube search engine, you get the following results:
The YouTube SERP, similar to the Google SERP, shows Ads at the top followed by the Organic results. YouTube SEO is all about ranking our videos at the top of the Organic results. But to learn how to optimize for the YouTube search engine, we also need to understand how the YouTube algorithm works.
How does YouTube Algorithm work?
According to YouTube Creator Academy, here’s how YouTube search algorithm works:
As it is evident from the image above, there are two important aspects of the YouTube Algorithm:
- Well-optimized and relevant Titles, Descriptions, and Video Content.
- User Engagement – If your videos are getting more likes and views, YouTube algorithms consider it as a signal to rank your videos higher in the YouTube SERP.
So how do I optimize my videos for YouTube search engines? Let’s find out.
Here are 16 YouTube SEO tips and tricks for 2021:
- YouTube Keyword Research
- YouTube Titles & Descriptions
- Make Engaging Videos
- Eye-striking Thumbnails
- Use Keywords while Talking
- Optimize your Channel Page
- Optimize your Playlists
- Use Closed Captions
- Use keyword in your Filename
- Make use of YouTube Stories and Posts
- Video SEO Embed
- Promote Your Video on Social Media
- Encourage People to Leave a Comment & Subscribe to Your Channel
- Make Use of Your Email List
- Check Watch Time Report
- Make Sure Your Keywords are Low Competition
1. YouTube Keyword Research
If you are an SEO company, you probably use tools like Google Adwords, Ahrefs, and SEMRush, to perform Keyword Research for SEO. However, YouTube Keyword Research is a bit different. There is no such dedicated tool for Keyword Research for YouTube.
So how do I perform YouTube keyword research?
First and foremost, open a spreadsheet and list down all the Keyword ideas surrounding your video. For example, if my video is “YouTube SEO” I could list down the keyword ideas like ‘YouTube SEO’,’YouTube keyword research’, ‘YouTube video SEO’, ‘SEO for YouTube’, and so on.
You can also use Google Keyword Planner for this.
Use YouTube Suggest
Once you have all your keyword ideas ready, head on to YouTube, and type those keywords. You will see YouTube suggesting keywords for the term you are entering.
A hack you can do here is putting an * before the keyword to get more relevant keyword ideas.
Pretty cool, isn’t it?
Targeting these keywords suggested by YouTube is awesome. Because these are actual keywords and queries that users search for. You will want to rank your videos for these keywords to get the maximum engagement possible.
Use Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
You can also use the Keyword Explorer tool by Ahrefs to search for similar keywords. Navigate to Keyword Explorer->Select “YouTube” as the search engine->type your keyword. You can use these keywords as part of your Keyword Research strategy.
Use Competitors keywords
Competitor Analysis is an important strategy used by agencies, especially by the ones who provide ecommerce SEO services. The idea here is to find the keywords the competitors are targeting and ranking for. And use these keywords as part of our Keyword Strategy.
For example, if my video is about “how to drape a saree”. Type the keyword and see the top results. Open the videos and see what keywords they are using in their Titles, Descriptions, and tags.
2.1 Optimize YouTube Titles
If you are an SEO agency, you already know the importance of optimizing the Titles and Descriptions of a page, to rank them higher. YouTube SEO is no different.
Do proper keyword research, and make sure you include all your primary and secondary keywords in the Titles and Descriptions of your video.
The YouTube Title character limit is 100 characters. However, dots(…) are displayed after 70 characters. As per research, the best practice is to keep YouTube Title below 70 characters.
Use keywords at the start of your Title
Make sure you include your most important keyword at the start of the Title. The YouTube algorithm gives more weightage to keywords at the start of the title.
Make use of Numbers in the Title
It is a proven fact that Video Titles that have numbers like “5 Ways to..”, “6 Best Things..” are given more preference by the YouTube search engine.
Look at this for example:
If you notice, you will see that Titles with #numbers rank higher than ones without it. Use this to your advantage and include numbers in your Titles.
2.2 Optimize YouTube Descriptions
Write Long Descriptions
A common mistake that most people make is not writing good descriptions for their YouTube videos. Some just write a line or two and don’t even include their primary keywords in it.
The YouTube Description character limit is 5,000 characters including spaces. Yes, 5000 characters! You would not want to miss such an opportunity.
Make sure you write a descriptive Description which contains all your primary and secondary keywords. YouTube Algorithm gives weightage to the first 2 to 3 sentences of your description. So make sure you include all your important keywords in the first 250 words of your video description.
Include links to your website in the description
One of the most important points that SEO agencies providing YouTube SEO services miss out is- adding links in descriptions pointing to their website.
Here’s an example:
The video revolves around the Myntra End of Reason Sale and has the link to their landing page in the Description.
If you have a website, make sure to add links to your relevant pages in your YouTube video description. This will help the user to visit your page and also help you get a backlink.
Getting a link from YouTube whose Domain Authority is 100, not a bad idea eh?
Use #hashtags in descriptions
Tags may not be a deciding factor in ranking your video. But it will surely help your target audience to find you. Which in turn will help your video to be discovered by people and increase User Engagement.
Make sure you use tags that are relevant to your videos, not the tags that are trending! Using irrelevant tags will land you in trouble and also can get you penalized. Make sure you use the #hashtags wisely.
3. Make videos that are engaging
One of the most important ranking factors in the YouTube search engine is User Engagement. Along with the optimization of Titles & Descriptions, you also need to pay special attention to the quality of videos you are producing.
No matter how well your videos are optimized for SEO, if your video does not result in user engagement, it is unlikely to rank higher.
Make sure you know your target audience and then create videos that will appeal to them. The end goal is to keep your user engaged which will result in more likes and shares. And eventually, better rankings!
Another thing you can do to increase User Engagement is replying to their comments on your videos. The user gets a sense of satisfaction and is likely to subscribe to your channel if you are active in comments. You don’t need to reply to each and every comment, but make sure you help people who are in need of a solution.
4. Eye-striking thumbnails
Here’s where you need to use your creativity. Put yourself in the user’s shoes and decide on what thumbnail would convince you to open the video.
Your thumbnails should catch the eye of the user and stand out from your competitors. DO NOT use clickbait thumbnails. Some people create a thumbnail which isn’t even a part of the video. You might get that click, but the user will immediately go back if he is disappointed.
YouTube does not like this and will make sure you don’t rank for those keywords. So make sure you make Thumbnails that are interesting, and at the same time relevant to your video.
Which thumbnail stands out from the above results? You decide.
5. Use keywords while talking
Abracadabra! This is a secret trick you can use to help rank your videos on YouTube. Ever watched a video and turned on the subtitles(auto-generated)? When you listen to songs or any videos for that matter, YouTube shows you auto-generated subtitles, even if the person who has uploaded the video has not uploaded subtitles. This is all thanks to their speech recognition technology.
By using this technology YouTube can hear *cough* what you’re talking about. Basically, it breaks down your voice into words and understands those words. Now imagine YouTube picking up all the important primary keywords that you speak by this technology. Your ranking will definitely benefit from this.
6. Optimize your Channel Page
Often overlooked, this technique is surely going to benefit you. Along with optimizing our videos, we also need to make sure that our channel page is well-optimized. Have you noticed that sometimes a YouTube channel ranks for some queries.
Here’s an example:
Here, for the keyword ‘recipe’, the “Hoopla Recipes” channel page is ranking. We noticed that there are no videos of Hoopla recipes ranking in YouTube SERP for this keyword.
But all thanks to the optimization of their YouTube Channel Page, they appear 4th on the YouTube SERP.
This shows that optimization of your YouTube channel page is crucial especially for competitive keywords. Make sure you do proper Keyword Research and optimize your YouTube channel page to rank higher on YouTube.
7. Optimize your Playlists
Just like your YouTube channel page, your playlists also need to be optimized. First things first, do not just post videos randomly on your channel. Especially if you have videos on different topics.
So as a best practice, I’ll make playlists for each of these topics.
Secret Tip: Do proper Keyword Research for your niche. And make playlists according to these keywords. This will help you rank higher and focus on a particular set of keywords for a playlist.
Does YouTube Playlists rank? Here’s an example:
If the users are searching for certain courses or tutorials, they will more likely click on playlists, rather than a single video. This will give an indication to YouTube that your playlist is really helpful to the users. In this way, you will be able to rank higher and get maximum User Engagement.
8. Use Subtitles And Closed Captions
People who upload videos are given options to upload subtitles and captions to reach a larger audience. It is intended for people who are deaf or have difficulty hearing. It is important to make sure of this feature because your captions will include your primary keywords. Use this to your advantage, for both, reaching out to your audience and gaining better rankings.
This is where using keywords while talking would make sense. Make sure you provide accurate captions and subtitles and don’t indulge in keyword stuffing.
9. Use keyword in your Filename
Shush… secret tip coming. Use keywords in your file name you upload. Yes, you heard it right. Just think about it, YouTube will know what your video is about by your filename. So make sure you put your primary keyword as your filename.
If I want to upload a video on YouTube SEO, I’ll keep the filename “YouTube-seo.mp4” instead of “sefsdhsgsd444.mp4”. Makes sense, eh?
10. Make use of YouTube Stories and Posts
There are a few new features added by YouTube recently for its users. One of the features which can prove to be very important for YouTube SEO is YouTube Stories and Posts. Similar to Instagram stories and posts, you can upload Stories on YouTube. You can also upload posts including polls.
This will drastically improve your User Engagement, which is one of the most important ranking factors. Create engaging posts and upload Stories that will appeal to your users.
11. Video SEO Embed
If your YouTube videos directly promote your products or services, it is always a good idea to embed them into your blog posts. This can be done on both your own site or on guest posts.This is one of the few YouTube SEO tips that are very subtle but can make a huge impact. First, it presents your video to a much broader audience, who can become organic viewers. Second, you can embed your YouTube videos anywhere. However, blog posts are the best medium to do so
12. Promote Your Video on Social Media
Promoting your videos on social media channels is one of the most important elements of YouTube SEO. Optimizing your YouTube video is quite similar to optimizing any blog. The more views you get, the higher you rank.
Hence, you must get as many eyes on your video and convert them into organic views. Best way to get this broad range? Social media channels. Your website must have a brand page across popular social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Here, you can regularly promote your YouTube channel and new content that you put out.
You can also try posting a relevant video as an answer on Quora. With a little context of how the video can help answer the original question, this is an easy way of gaining a good chunk of organic views on your video.
13. Encourage People to Leave a Comment & Subscribe to Your Channel
For YouTube, the amount of engagement your video generates is significant. Therefore, it is always advised to encourage your viewers to like and comment on your videos and subscribe to your channel.
When the viewers leave a like or comment on your video, it sends a signal to the YouTube algorithms that your content is of good quality.
Make sure that it does not come off as desperate and is organically scripted in your videos. For instance, if your video is about ‘how to maintain a healthy diet’, end the video on a positive note and tell the viewers that they can do it. And then ask them to share their experiences with healthy eating and subscribe to your channel for more tips
14. Make Use of Your Email List
Email lists are a very efficient form of marketing. Utilize your email list to its full potential by sending everyone in the list the YouTube link to your new videos. You can send thousands of emails within a few seconds and effectively increase the views on your videos within a few days!
15. Check Watch Time Report
Watch time is the total time users spend watching any video. To put it in context, half completion of a ten-minute video will rank higher than full completion of a two-minute video. Hence, you must regularly check your watch time reports to see which videos get more watch time
16. Make Sure Your Keywords are Low Competition
This is one of the YouTube SEO tips and tricks that is especially relevant for new YouTube channels. You do not want your videos to compete with channels with a huge following.
To avoid this competition, make sure that you use keywords in your meta and descriptions that do not have high keyword difficulty. An easy way to do this is using tools like KWFinder, which can help you find keywords with low difficulty. Ideally, you should aim for keywords with a difficulty score of below 40.
The size of the audience on YouTube is enormous. If there’s any search engine that comes close to Google search engine, it’s that of YouTube. The YouTube search engine can help your brand grow and in turn, result in conversions down the funnel.
YouTube SEO might seem not that difficult. Optimize your Titles, Descriptions, do a few hacks here and there, and done. But there’s more to it. Strategically done Keyword Research, creating playlists surrounding your keywords, might be a long but beneficial process. To be honest, there’s not a lot of Tech involved in YouTube SEO.
However, the main challenge is User Engagement. The reason we emphasize this is because it is a deciding factor when it comes to Ranking. Make sure you invest your time and money in creating a proper setup, using high-quality cameras, mics & other equipment. You just need to concentrate on making videos that appeal to the users. If your video is perfect, YouTube SEO will be the most beneficial for you.
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