Your YouTube Optimization Quick Guide
When you think SEO, naturally you think Google. It is the #1 search engine on the planet.
But if you use videos to promote your website and business you really should be focusing on how to optimize your YouTube videos as well.
According to Alexa’s global traffic rankings, YouTube is the second most visited website in the world.
And it’s also considered the second biggest search engine in the world!
“YouTube viewers watch a lot of video — over 4 billion hours a month at last count. But the average household also watches several hours of video per day on their TVs. So for YouTube to become the most important media in more people’s lives, we’ve got a lot of growing to do.”
Source: YouTube Creators
Unlocking the potential within YouTube means you can access millions of viewers every day. You can boost your overall online presence with effective video content that’s optimized well.
So how can videos help you promote your business? With good informational videos – think How To, you can . . .
- Capture more attention
- Garner better integration with social media content
- Nurture a highly-engaged, loyal audience
- Take advantage of the inherent benefit from better search engine rankings
Notice the last one on that list – that’s really want most businesses need.
Google and YouTube
Google shows more than just articles in their SERPs (search engine ranking pages). They also rank videos, images, books and more.
The more various content you create the more you are increasing your chances of being picked up and ranked in Google SERPs for related search terms.
If you didn’t already know it, Google owns YouTube. So it shouldn’t come come as a surprise that you can increase your organic search engine ranking by spending some time optimizing your video content on YouTube and embedding videos on your website.
It is important to know that embedding videos won’t directly improve your rankings in Google SERPs, according to Google’s John Mueller.
But having useful videos within your content can help you keep a visitor on the page longer and that can eventually help you increase your niche authority, which should see you increasing your organic rankings. And Google is all about providing valuable pertinent information to searchers. If your videos do that, it will go a long way in helping your site get better rankings.
In short, once your visitors see that your site is sharing informative and helpful content they are most likely to return. Thus, over time making your site authoritative and engaging source rewarded by Google.
Based on your keyword research you will be able to create video content useful for your targeted audience, that will result in your viewers seeing you as a trusted resource of information.
Before we dive into more detailed steps on how to optimize your videos, let’s take a look at the main YouTube ranking factors.
YouTube Ranking Factors
YouTube has cited Audience Retention as one of its main ranking factors. In short, this is how long people watch your videos before exiting.
The Audience Retention report analyses :
- Average view duration for all videos on your channel
- Top videos or channels listed by watch time
- Audience retention data for a specific video for different time frames
- Relative audience retention for a video compared to the YouTube average for similar videos
Other YouTube ranking factors surrounding engagement:
- Video comments
- Subscribers – after watching a video
- Video shares
- Click-through rate
- Thumbs up/Thumbs down
Also, according to the YouTube SEO Ranking Factor Study, published on Briggsby, the most important aspects of ranking well on YouTube are:
- Watch time
- Channel authority
- Positive sentiment & engagement
- Broad match keyword targeting across title, description, and keyword tags
Now that we know what are some of the key ranking factors on YouTube let’s dive in and see how can you discover topics and how to optimize your videos to increase its chances to rank better on YouTube.
T.O.P – Targeting, Optimizing & Promoting – oh my!
Let’s get into how T.O.P. can help you optimize your videos to increase your YouTube rankings, create engagement and why should you promote and embed your branded videos in your website
- Targeting your videos – Understanding searcher intent, keyword research and video creation.
- Optimizing your videos – Creating a branded presence, optimizing titles, tags and descriptions.
- Promoting your videos – Getting real, engaged views on your videos, building links and embeds to your videos.
T – Keyword Research
Keyword research can get really involved and is a topic all to itself, but I’m going to get into it a bit for you.
The YouTube SEO process starts just like any content creation process, with a keyword, search query and topic research. If you are new to keyword research, check out Moz’s great guide on the topic.
The goal you are trying to achieve here is to understand searcher intent, what are users are looking for and which search terms are relevant to your business and your audience.
Discovering trending search terms or keywords related to your industry can be really helpful too.
Find relevant topics with high volume keywords and low competition.
As highlighted in MOZ’s keyword research, ask yourself…
- Is the keyword relevant to my website’s content?
- Will searchers find what they are looking for on my website when they search using these keywords?
- Will they be happy with what they find?
- And, will this traffic result in financial rewards or other business goals?
Now that you know how to do a keyword research, let’s see how can you discover your potential keywords using YouTube.
YouTube’s Search Suggest
To start discovering industry related search topics, you can use YouTube’s search suggest feature. Just type something into YouTube search and you’ll see a list of suggested topics appear. If you have the Keywords Everywhere Extension plugged in too, you’ll even get some additional competition and volume information too.
Keywords Everywhere – Mozilla Firefox
Keywords Everywhere – Google Chrome
It doesn’t matter if you use MS Office Excel or Google Sheets, as long you create a database with search volume for your targeted keywords. Once you have at least 50 different keywords, you are ready to make your analysis. Based on your analysis, you should be able to discover which keywords are more valuable to you.
Remember that by using YouTube’s search suggest you would have to type the data in your sheets manually for each targeted keyword.
Considering that this process can be time-consuming, we would suggest creating a database of targeted search terms (topics and keywords related to your services). Using tools such are SEMrush or Google Keyword Planner you will be able to discover the most valuable keywords.
Industry related topics and videos
Another way of finding the industry related topics and keywords is to analyze your competitor’s videos. Analyzing their videos, you can discover topics, gather ideas and aim to create a better and more engaging video. Your ultimate goal here is to ‘Steal’ their viewers.
It’s really pretty easy. Visit your competitor’s branded YouTube profile and see which videos have the most views and comments. Analyze the keywords and topics they’ve used for their best performing videos and MAKE IT BETTER!
Branded YouTube profile report
Using your business’ YouTube search report, you can discover how viewers are engaging with your content, a total watch time, average view duration, a total number of views, etc.
To view your YouTube analytics, navigate to Creator Studio Dashboard from your profile image (top right) or click here, once you’re logged into your YouTube account.
Within YouTube Analytics, navigate to ‘Traffic Sources’ -> ‘YouTube Search.’
You will be able to see which search terms were used by viewers on YouTube to discover your content. Based on your previous keyword research, you should be able to notice if you’ve missed any important keywords.
Additionally, with knowing how users are discovering your videos, you will have a clear picture of what your most important keywords are for targeting purposes.
List of targeted keywords
When you compile a group of targeted keywords for your video, it’s time to see the amount of search volume for each keyword. It’s good practice to ensure that target keywords generate at least 100-1k searches per month in Google.
While it is a good practice to discover keywords with high search volume (at least 100-1k searches per month), it is important to know that some topics or industries don’t generate high search volume.
So, knowing your own industry this should not come as a surprise. You can prioritize your keywords even if the search volume is below 100-1k searches per month.
Once you have a set of 50 or so targeted keywords, you can set up a campaign to track your YouTube rankings.
One of the tools that allow you to track your rankings on YouTube is Rank Tracker from Link Assistant. Similar to Google SERPs rankings campaign in Moz, Rank Tracker will show you performance and rankings for your YouTube videos.
Creating a Video that Keeps Viewers Attention
Your video content needs to be high quality and engaging. In short, if your video keeps viewers on YouTube, the chances are increased that YouTube will rank your video higher in the platform’s search results.
Additionally, responding to people’s questions or comments on your videos can create conversations that help your audience learn more about your company and the topic of your video.
Knowing how your viewers think can be used to create in-depth and topically related videos or content for your blog.
Using Google Trends can help you determine when is the best time to share your videos with your audience.
O – YouTube video optimization
Keywords and search queries are just as important to YouTube as they are to Google.
Remember, once the targeted keyword has been selected and a relevant video has been created, including metadata in your videos is important. YouTube cannot fully index the content within your video, it needs to rely on the content you provide. This includes:
- Video title
- Video description
- Video thumbnails
The video title should be at least 5 words long and up to 70 characters in length. Having a catchy, relevant and descriptive video title will enable you to include targeted keywords.
If possible, place the targeted keywords closer to the beginning of the title. Keep in mind that your video title needs to entice viewer to watch your video.
YouTube’s very own, awesome Creator Academy features some effective tips that can help you create a title that should entice a viewer to click through:
- Keep titles concise (between 60 and 70 characters) with the most important information up front.
- Save episode numbers and branding towards the end.
- Check that your titles don’t get cut-off in suggested videos, search results, and mobile
Include additional items that they haven’t flagged:
- Use your targeted keyword in the video title
- Include intent modifier (e.g. best, compare, free, local, top, review etc.)
While video descriptions can be up to 5,000 characters in length, you should ensure that the key message is at the beginning of your description. In his YouTube study, Justin found out that the optimal word count is between 300 – 350 characters long.
A tailored video description can even attract some views coming from Google results. Using search terms in your video description that are searched on Google, not just on YouTube.
The description can also help drive relevant traffic to your website. Including a link to your domain within your video description can bring additional traffic to your site.
A tag is pretty much just a keyword that you add to your video and it can help you grow your YouTube audience. You need to ensure that your tags precisely describe the topic and content of your video. Including relevant and related keywords should help you gather more views. Create tags that are based on your topic and are relevant to your targeted keyword.
In order to find tags for your videos, you can start with the YouTube search bar and type in your targeted search term.
If you don’t have access to any paid keyword volume tools and perhaps find Keyword Planner a little cumbersome for this task, you can use Keywords Everywhere to find out the search volume for each keyword, free n’ easy within the SERPs.
Use the data discovered in keyword and tag research and use it when creating video titles and video descriptions.
When you have a verified YouTube account you are able to upload your own image for your thumbnail video. Which means that you can edit your image to make it stand out from other videos in your niche.
It is recommended to use high resolution image for your video thumbnail – width: 1280p and height: 720p.
However, it is important to know that there’s a limit of of 2MB and the supported thumbnail image formats are .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG.
Once you upload your video you will see an option to choose a Custom thumbnail under the “Video thumbnails” section. You can also upload thumbnail image for any of your previously published videos.
Using YouTube SEO Checklist can help you track your video optimization steps and help you optimize your video to give it a better chance to rank higher. Unfortunately, this extension is only available for Google Chrome.
(P) Promoting your videos
In the opening section we’ve mentioned YouTube’s ranking signals, where we listed video subscribers, video shares, comments and Click Through Rate as important ranking signals.
To increase the number of users that will watch, subscribe and share your videos, you need to promote the video content also. You have to reach the audience.
By incorporating YouTube content into your ongoing marketing strategy for your business, you are increasing the chances to draw more visits and views to your branded YouTube channel. The more views and engagements you have on your videos, the more authoritative and relevant your videos are in Google’s eyes.
Embedding videos in blog posts
Creating some written content on your website gives you the opportunity to embed the YouTube video or recommend that readers watch your video to find more information. This creates another link between your site and the video for Googlebot to consider.
Embedding videos in blog posts or landing pages is the most direct and advantageous way to integrate your content and YouTube videos.
When you include videos in your articles, your posts become more dynamic and engaging. Writing new articles, related to your video topic, can help you reuse the same video content multiple times. Presenting older videos to a new audience will help you gather more views, subscribers and engagements in general.
You can follow Google’s own guidelines on embedding YouTube videos.
Take advantage of Playlist functionality
Perhaps one of the simplest high-value feature inclusions you should embrace on your YouTube page; the utilization of playlists as part of your optimization strategy.
Playlists can be excellent for starting that ‘snowball effect’ and to help keep users clicking and rolling through your semantically related videos with ease. They generally tend to rank higher than standalone videos in the search results, making them a no-brainer for inclusion in your YouTube optimization arsenal.
It’s no secret that video content is a popular way to grab attention and drive home a key message, but for goodness sake – don’t create video content for the sake of it. You MUST stop to consider whether or not the content will be helpful for your audience.
As you’ve learned here, ranking well on YouTube search requires some smart thinking to increase your likelihood of winning some real audience engagement. That means obsessing over important metrics like:
- “Dwell time” (how long people are watching your videos for)
- Share rate (social)
- Links and embeds on other sites
- Channel subscriber count (real ones)
So assuming your videos are high quality, spending some time to optimize them should help your videos attract more views and dominate that vital #2 search engine!
Measuring ongoing performance
Its important for you to analyze your current video performance using Google Data Studio and YouTube analytics.
These tools allow you to discover how your content is performing up to date (average number of views, comments, watch time, thumbs up, etc) and to generate reports after you optimize your videos with custom thumbnails, video tags, tailored video title and description.
Using the information here, you should be able to start creating video content that will be informative and useful to your targeted audience.