When last did you watch a YouTube video – probably in the last hour or one day at the most. If you are a video creator then you definitely have a YouTube Channel. As a business, if your SEO and Content Strategy for 2022 involves only Google, you’re missing out on a huge section of your audience. YouTube, the world’s second largest search engine, has been growing in significance every year. Today, the platform boasts 230 million active users and accounts for 25% of global mobile traffic. Increasingly, users are turning to YouTube for instructional videos, entertainment and keeping up to date with daily events. But with higher popularity also comes higher competition.
YouTube SEO can help your brand stand out from competitor channels and attract higher views and engagement. At its core, YouTube video SEO follows the same principles as SEO for Google: it requires you to optimize for the algorithm’s ranking factors. Understanding these YouTube ranking factors and strategizing the best way to rank high on YouTube search can help your company’s channel attract a wider audience on this platform.
1. Optimize for the right keywords to come up in YouTube search
Keyword research is the cornerstone of SEO and YouTube SEO is no different. Keywords can signify the amount of interest around a specific topic, which will help you create a targeted content strategy. There are a number of tools that can help you find the best mix of keywords for your videos. An SEO keyword research tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush will allow you to perform keyword research specifically for the YouTube search engine.
If you don’t want to use a YouTube keyword research tool, you can also enter a topic into the YouTube search bar and make a note of the suggested searches as these are frequently searched for terms. As with Google SEO, you need to filter out your keywords based on search volume and difficulty. If you’re a new channel, for example, targeting keywords with a search volume of 40,000 might not yield results. Surprisingly though, this is what most newbies do, instead of looking at long-tail keywords and keywords with low competition. You will be amazed how ranking for these keywords first will get you a good volume of traffic. Strike a balance between high search volume and low-difficulty keywords for the optimal mix of keywords to target for video optimization.
2. Know where to use keywords in your YouTube video page
Once you have your set of target keywords shortlisted, you need to know where to use them for video optimization. YouTube allows you to add keywords to
- Video title
- Video description
Treat the video description as you would a blog. The video title needs to have the primary keyword. While your title should be optimized, it also needs to stand out and grab a viewer’s attention. This will improve your click-through rate and ultimately, your YouTube ranking.
Have a look at the image below and note how the search term matches the titles of the videos in the result.
The video description can have up to 5000 characters, so make sure it is well-written and optimized.The description should have the primary keyword repeated 2-3 times and the secondary keywords added 1-2 times.The first 125 characters of the description will be displayed below your video so add the most important information at the beginning.
Tags are another great way to optimize your video. You can add as many tags as you like, but they should cumulatively add up to 400 characters or less. Apart from using keywords as tags, you can also add tags that your competitors use. YouTube video SEO tools, like vidIQ, offer suggestions on competitor tags that you can add to your own video.
3. Increase watch time for your videos
The longer people spend watching your videos the better it is because YouTube will promote videos with high watch time in search and in recommended videos.
Content is at the heart of SEO and YouTube video SEO is no exception. Unless your script is engaging and informative, users will bounce after the first few seconds and check out a competitor’s video. Fortunately, research has shown that great content doesn’t have to mean high-quality production value. Even if you are shooting videos with a mobile, viewers will look past it if you’re offering them quality content. After all, one study showed that customers can lose interest in a video in as little as 10 seconds. This means that the first 10 – 15 seconds of your video must be really interesting, so spend time to get the start right. One way to achieve this is to include the benefits right in the beginning.
4. Experiment with longer videos
In the same way that Google tends to favor long-form blog posts, YouTube tends to favor long videos (over 12 minutes long). One reason for this is the theory that longer videos are more informative and YouTube wants to recommend the best quality videos to its viewers. Another factor is that long videos can increase your channel’s overall watch time. Watch time is the total minutes your videos have been watched for. When you have longer videos, viewers naturally spend more time watching them. In this way, long videos can help you gain a higher watch time with fewer videos.
However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. The optimal video length depends upon the topic covered and who your target audience is.
The best YouTube content strategy is to experiment with a few different video lengths before finding a duration that seems to get the highest views and engagement.
5. Customize your thumbnails
How do you stand out from all the videos ranking for a focus keyword? The title, of course, plays an important role, but your thumbnail plays an even greater one. Humans are visual creatures and our eyes are first drawn to visual elements on a page. Even before reading a video’s title, most of us look at the thumbnail. Because of this, you can’t simply depend on a pre-set screengrab for your thumbnail, it needs to be specially designed.
The thumbnail needs to have a concise version of your title or a key aspect that’s covered in the video. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should have a text-heavy thumbnail, but users should get an idea of what the video is about from the thumbnail alone. The visual used along with the text should also be custom designed based on your target audience. For example, you might want to use bright colors if your videos are for young viewers and a more serious palette if they’re geared towards professionals.
6. Don’t forget to amplify your videos
Social cues play an important role in YouTube SEO. While number of likes, comments and subscribers on your videos definitely help in YouTube ranking, off-page factors such as backlinks are taken into account as well.
Promote from your blog and social handles: If you have an existing website or blog, you should link all of your videos to relevant pages. This not only helps your videos rank better, but will improve the overall time spent and rankings on your website as well. You should also amplify your videos on your social handles to build greater awareness and get backlinks in the process.
Promote on discussion forums: There are a ton of forums out there that you can promote your videos on. If you don’t know where to find them, try this tip:
Go to Google and use a search string that includes “your video topic” + forums. You will get all relevant forums for your topic or industry. If you are new to creating your YouTube channel this is a good way to bring in your initial audience.
A strong YouTube content and SEO strategy can help you build a solid presence on the platform. It can help your company stand out as thought leaders in the industry and develop an engaged base of loyal viewers. In 2022, YouTube video optimization will become more than just an add-on to your existing SEO strategy – it will play a pivotal role. If you need help to optimize your videos, reach out to iTech’s digital marketing team.