YouTube SEO can be a difficult beast to tackle, but it is an absolute must for anyone who wants their videos to rank on YouTube. This guide should make things so much easier for all your needs.
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Click to jump ahead:
- What is YouTube SEO?
- How YouTube SEO works
- How SEO helps rank videos on YouTube
- 11 SEO tips to rank your videos higher on YouTube
- FAQs about YouTube SEO
What is YouTube SEO?
If you want your videos to show up higher on the search results pages of YouTube, it helps to make them as SEO (search engine optimization) friendly as possible. But there’s a bit more to that — and we’ll explain why.
SEO is the process of optimizing content, be it web pages or videos or something else, so that they rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).
When someone conducts a search on a search engine, like YouTube, the results displayed are based on a number of factors, including how relevant the content is to the search terms being used and the authority of the websites or videos.
Basically, how popular and trusted a site is affects where its content shows up on the search results page.
YouTube has an algorithm that ranks videos for any given search term: this algorithm is called “PageRank” and looks at things like the number of links coming into your video, as well as how authoritative those sites are that are linking to you.
For example, when you search for the keywords, “visual communication”, depending on your search history, either Killer Visual Strategies’ video or Riekreate’s video will come up first on the list.
Not sure how to make a YouTube video? Check out this post.
How YouTube SEO works
According to WeAreSocial’s Digital 2022 report, YouTube ranks second as the most used social platform with at least 2.56 billion active users. If you rank high on YouTube, your videos will attract a lot of traffic. It’s nearly hard to rank well on Google without YouTube traffic, therefore using SEO methods to boost your videos is a fantastic idea.
To determine the ranking of a video for specific search terms, the algorithm examines various factors within each video post, such as:
- Views, comments and likes
- Watch time
On top of that, the algorithm also takes into account the user’s search history and previous actions to make the search results more personalized. This way, the algorithm ensures that the user gets results that truly connect with them on a personal level.
These principles help when uploading a video to your YouTube channel because you’re competing against 72 hours worth of new videos being uploaded every minute on the platform. Your content needs all the help it can get to be seen and heard amidst all the other noise.
To get a better idea of how SEO for YouTube works, here is an example of an optimized YouTube video: a tutorial submitted by Landon Bailer called “Soundproofing a Room – Getting Started“.
This video was uploaded on June 15, 2016 and ranks #4 for the keyword “how to soundproof a room”. So, when you use YouTube search for the keywords, you’ll most likely find this video.
Notice how the title of the video is a clear and concise explanation of what the user can expect to learn from watching the video content. The description also includes relevant keywords — in this case, “acoustic soundproofing” — and links to the author’s website.
The video has been viewed over 1.1 million times and has a high rating (4.9/5) from users, which no doubt contributes to its high ranking on the search results pages.
With its many positive traits, it should be easy to see why it’s a good example to follow if you want to try YouTube SEO.
How SEO helps rank videos on YouTube
To further help you with YouTube SEO, here is a more general list of properties you need to look out for with your video. For this, let’s take a look at a Venngage video “How to Make an Infographic in 5 Steps” that ranks first for the search term “how to make an infographic”:
1. Video title
The title of your video is one of the most important factors for ranking on YouTube. Make sure it accurately reflects the content of your video and contains the keywords that you’re aiming for.
2. Video thumbnail
Thumbnails quickly help viewers identify the content of the video. This is a crucial element for viewers when making decisions about whether or not to watch a video and how long to watch it for. Alternatively, it can just be to grab the audience’s attention and give them an idea about what to expect.
A thumbnail, however, isn’t a ranking feature that has a direct impact on how Google ranks search results, although it can have an effect. A good thumbnail can increase hits, making videos more popular, and Google can use it as a metric to determine whether your video is more relevant, resulting in a ranking when searched.
Emotion-packed thumbnails are an excellent way to grab your audience’s attention, but make sure it’s compatible with your content, especially if you’re discussing academic or professional topics.
If you need some inspiration to create the best YouTube thumbnail, check out these posts:
- How To Use Free YouTube Channel Art To Promote Your Brand
- 20+ YouTube Banner Templates & YouTube Branding Tips
The description of your video is also important for ranking on YouTube. Make sure to include a brief synopsis of your video as well as relevant keywords. You can also include links to your website or social media pages.
The number of views in the first 24 hours is also a very important ranking signal in YouTube. The more views a new YouTube video receives in its first 24 hours, the better it can perform in search, suggested videos, subscription feeds, and other areas.
Read this blog to learn how you can start an effective video marketing strategy, on YouTube, or any other video platforms out there.
Likes are another important factor for ranking on YouTube. The more likes your video has, the higher it will rank on the search results page.
6. External links
The number of quality, relevant sites linking to your video also contributes to its ranking on YouTube.
The more social media shares your video receives, the better it will rank on YouTube. Take a peek at your YouTube channel’s Analytics and read the Sharing report to see if this is the case. The report reveals how many times your material has been shared on YouTube using the Share button, as well as the sites where viewers are sharing your videos.
A great video does not have to cost a lot of money. Check out our guide on how to create effective video content that will really leave an impression with visitors and customers on your site.
8. Video length
YouTube channels with lengthier content, plus having a well-optimized target keyword for each video, is always at a high rung in most YouTube rankings.
However, making longer videos doesn’t guarantee higher views. If you have a long video with audiences watching every minute, you can rank highly with YouTube’s algorithm.
9. Quality of video
The better the quality of your video, the higher it will rank on YouTube.
11 SEO tips to rank your videos higher on YouTube
There are a few ways in which SEO can help your videos rank on YouTube:
1. Doing keyword research
The core of your search engine optimization and sponsored search marketing efforts is keyword research. You can’t optimize your content, sales pages, social media posts, or other digital marketing activities until you know what terms your customers use.
User behavior and search patterns are constantly changing. With particular keyword phrases, it might sometimes be difficult to identify user intent.
If you upload a new video on YouTube with good SEO, Google will know to push it further up in SERPs when users type similar terms into the search box.
2. Encourage people to link to your videos
One thing that YouTube looks for in an optimized video is how many websites are linking back to it, so be sure to share URLs of your videos across as many platforms as possible. Keep in mind that Google sees links coming from all sorts of sources – some good, some not so good — so try not to spam or trick people into linking back your content.
3. Use descriptive titles and tags
Depending on the video-sharing site you are using, tagging videos with relevant keywords is another way to increase visibility on search results pages. Search bots crawl every piece of text to find the keyword in your video, similar to Google search bots.
Once you’re done, make sure to double-check that you haven’t violated any copyright restrictions upon creating videos for your channel.
4. Optimize the video description and uploads
Just like with webpage SEO, video SEO is about more than just keywords. You should include your targeted keywords (more than once) in the title, tags, and description of your videos to make it easier for Google bots to find your content when users are searching for those terms.
A video description is a piece of metadata that aids YouTube in understanding a video’s content. Well-optimized descriptions might help you rank better in YouTube searches.
YouTube uses your description, together with your video title and tags, to understand the content (and context) of your video. A well-written description can help your video rank higher in YouTube search results (and Suggested Video).
Indeed, YouTube strongly advises that you tweak your video description for search engine optimization.
5. Use social media to broaden the reach of your videos
In addition to optimizing your videos for better search engine ranking, you should also promote them on as many social media platforms as possible. Doing so will not only increase views and likes, but will also help build links back to your video, which is another important ranking factor for video SEO.
6. Monitor your video analytics
Just like with website SEO, you should monitor your video analytics to see how viewers are engaging with your content. This information will help you make better decisions about the types of videos you should produce in the future, as well as how you will optimize them for better search engine ranking.
With YouTube analytics, you won’t need to become a full-fledged data scientist with its easy-to-understand features.
7. Create a video sitemap and add it to Google Webmaster Tools
Creating a video sitemap is just like creating a regular sitemap, except you will include the full URL of your videos in it. After submitting the file to Google Webmaster Tools, you can expect your videos to rank higher in search engines, especially if they are original content.
8. Create playlists
Organize your videos into thematic playlists to make it easier for viewers to navigate your channel. Use descriptive and keyword-rich titles for your playlists, enhancing their visibility in search results. This organization not only improves user experience but also signals to YouTube that your channel provides valuable content.
9. Collaborate with other creators
Collaborating with other YouTubers in your niche exposes your content to a new audience. Seek out opportunities for collaborations, guest appearances or featuring other creators’ videos on your channel to expand your reach. Look for creators whose content aligns with your niche or complements your own. Seek out creators who share a similar target audience but offer a unique perspective.
10. Engage viewers with end screens and cards
Leverage YouTube’s end screens and cards to promote other videos, playlists or encourage subscriptions. These interactive elements keep viewers engaged, extend watch time, and increase the visibility of your content.
11. Promote video embeds
Embed your YouTube videos on relevant blog posts, websites or forums to increase exposure and backlinks. This cross-promotion can drive traffic to your channel while enhancing your overall online presence.
FAQs about YouTube SEO
1. What is the best SEO tool to use on YouTube?
The best SEO tool to use on YouTube is TubeBuddy. It helps you find new keywords, optimize your videos for those terms, and drive more views all from a simple browser extension.
As for other tools, there is Google Alerts, which will inform you when certain keywords are being used to search for your video, and Socialmention, which will tell you what people are saying about your brand across the web.
However, neither of these is as effective as TubeBuddy when it comes to finding keywords and optimizing videos for those terms.
2. What is a video tutorial?
A tutorial video is a how-to or step-by-step guide that shows or teaches you how to finish an activity or create a result while it’s being filmed.
By providing a visual context for what you’re teaching, you can strengthen your audience’s connection with you. Because visual has a greater impact on people’s memory, it also improves retention.
Visuals are also convenient because they may be seen at any time, anywhere. They also save you the time and effort of repeating messages throughout your tutorial, making them more effective.
3. How do you make a good tutorial video?
If you’re serious about teaching others, growing your business, or creating an online course, tutorial videos are the best way to go. Here are some pointers on how to ensure that tutorials are useful rather than confusing (or wasting their time).
- Make a good plan or strategy. It’s critical to have a thorough pre-production plan in place if you want a video to go as smoothly as possible.
- Be prepared. Before you hit ‘record’, make a shot list. When you’re in front of the camera, the less time you spend thinking about your pictures, the better. You can also use the shot list as a starting point for your script.
- Keep it short. You should strive to keep your videos under two minutes as a general rule of thumb. While a 100-minute tutorial video isn’t a complete turnoff, it’s unlikely that anyone would watch it in their spare time.
- Take a look at the sound. If your audio is good, you can easily get away with bad video quality, but having both is difficult. In a calm area, record high-quality audio without a microphone right away.
- Think of accessibility. Closed captions or subtitles help those with hearing impairments, as well as people who have poor audio quality on their device, to follow along and understand the video better. You can rely on YouTube’s automatic closed captions or add subtitles to the video yourself to ensure their quality.
4. What are tutorial videos called?
Tutorials are also referred to as “how-to” or “instructional” videos.
Some great examples of tutorial content are on YouTube, where it’s one of the most popular types of videos. All of the major players, such as Google and Facebook, have their own channels where they provide tutorials on a variety of topics, from how to use their platforms to digital marketing ideas.
Although YouTube SEO is an important part of modern marketing, not everyone is a pro at it. Hopefully, the information in this post will help you understand how to approach video SEO and how to get your films in front of more people on the internet.
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