YouTube SEO: How to Get Discovered on YouTube
YouTube is one of the largest social platforms and the second most used search engine after Google. It boasts over two billion active monthly users, which implies that YouTube’s potential for sharing online video content is unmatched. However, with users uploading over 500 hours of video every minute, you must share great content and optimise it for SEO to ensure it reaches the target audience. This is where YouTube SEO comes into play. It helps you improve the ranking and visibility of your videos so that your content gains more exposure.
Just like website SEO, YouTube SEO helps brands and businesses tap into the gigantic audience that this social platform offers. When done correctly, YouTube SEO increases views, enhances brand awareness, and drives website traffic. As such knowing how to build and execute a solid SEO strategy can maximise your success on YouTube. This article puts together the most important tips you should use to optimise your videos for search.
1. Optimise your video title and description for your target keywords
Keyword optimisation helps build a solid foundation when optimising web content and blog posts for SEO. The same concept applies when it comes to YouTube SEO. You must conduct extensive keyword research for your content. This serves as the cornerstone of your YouTube SEO. Without the right keywords, the chances of ranking on YouTube are very slim. So, how do you go about this?
An easy way to identify a keyword is by using YouTube’s autosuggest feature. This involves typing a word or phrase on the search bar and seeing what comes up. For instance, if you’re creating a cake baking video you can type the phrase “how to bake a cake” and check the suggestions. These are usually questions that people are actively seeking on Google.
Additionally, you can also use tools like Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and SEMRush to find keyword variations or get a sense of more popular search phrases. A good keyword combination should at the very least meet these two characteristics:
- an accurate description of your video
- words or phrases that searchers type in to find content on YouTube
Once you have identified the right keywords, be sure to include them in your YouTube video title, meta-description, tags, and file transcript. Remember: incorporate them naturally. Keyword stuffing won’t do any good in terms of search engine rankings
2. Add tags that are relevant to your content
Adding tags to your videos helps viewers as well as the YouTube search engine understand the context and content of your videos. Through tags, YouTube can associate the videos you upload with similar content, thereby increasing the chances of your videos showing up on user searches and recommended videos. The best way to use tags is by adding the target keywords and phrases, including both short and long-tail keywords. As an example, if your post is about surfing in South Beach Miami, you can use “Surfing”, “South Beach Miami” and “Surfing in South Beach Miami” as the tags.
3. Choose a category for your video
When uploading your video, it is important to place it under a category that fits best. You can do this under the “Advanced Settings” tab. As you can see, YouTube provides different categories to choose from. Placing your video in the right category helps the search engine make it visible to viewers who follow related channels. This means you should be careful enough to group your video with content that shares similar characteristics in terms of production value, format, and length. Doing so makes it easier for your content to gain online exposure.
4. Curate a compelling thumbnail
A video’s thumbnail and title are some of the most important elements when it comes to attracting clicks from YouTube searchers. Most viewers usually make a decision on whether to open a video depending on how appealing the thumbnail looks. This means that choosing the right thumbnail can bring a significant difference in your click-through rates.
While YouTube allows you to add an automatically-generated video thumbnail, the best bet would be using a custom frame that perfectly represents your target keyword. A great option would be using a thumbnail that gives searcher’s a sense of the content they’re about to watch and conveys the information of the explainer video in a more appealing way and would attract more views.
5. Add a transcript to your video
Adding video transcripts is a proven way of making your videos more searchable on YouTube. A study on video SEO shows that adding closed captions can increase YouTube views by 7.32%. This is because the search engine can read and index the transcript, making it easier for your content to rank higher. Here is an example transcript of the video “The Mind Behind Linux| Linus Torvalds”.
A prime spot for displaying the transcript on YouTube is the video description field, which allows up to 4,850 characters. This is enough to fit a 10-minute video transcript. If the video is longer, you can truncate the transcript and include a full version on another page. Other than making your content searchable, transcripts increase video watch time – a critical metric when ranking YouTube videos. They keep the viewer engaged and increase the chances of viewing videos to the end.
6. Use subtitles, cards, and end-screens for in-video optimisation
Incorporating subtitles in your YouTube videos is a great way of boosting your YouTube SEO efforts. First, it provides another opportunity to convey your keywords naturally. This helps YouTube’s search and ranking algorithm understand your content. More to this is that search engines can index the translated captions and include your video in organic search results for multiple languages.
Second, multilingual subtitles help non-English speakers and those with hearing impairment enjoy your videos. For these reasons subtitles present a huge growth opportunity since you can tap into a larger audience.
YouTube cards are interactive visual features that encourage your audience to take action when viewing your video. In most cases, cards prompt viewers to watch a related video or playlist, visit an external link, answer a poll, discover a helpful YouTube channel, or even donate to a non-profit. The process of adding cards is pretty straightforward. You only need to choose the appropriate card and select a timecode or point where you want it to trigger. YouTube end screens are closely related to cards. However, as the name suggests, they are used at the end of the video to encourage viewers to keep checking your content. You can use end screens to suggest related videos that might capture the viewer’s interest, or even ask them to subscribe to your YouTube Channel.
7. Share and promote your videos online
Creating content that engages users and satisfies search intent is not sufficient to give your videos the exposure you desire. You need to find ways of connecting with new audiences on YouTube. Here are some effective ways of maximising the exposure of your YouTube content:
- Creating a blog for your YouTube channel
- Sharing videos on different social media platforms
- Incorporating your videos in email newsletters
- Sharing the video in online forums and communities whose members resonate with your content
- Using your video content to answer questions in Q&A platforms such as Quora or StackOverflow.
Finally, remember to engage with viewers by responding to comments on your YouTube videos. As you know, content with a higher rate of engagement has more visibility on YouTube and the web at large.
With video content being the most effective way of communicating online, YouTube is undoubtedly the best way for getting your content to the masses. If used correctly, it can be a powerful tool for driving organic traffic to your business website and growing your brand. However, brands looking to make the most out of this channel must go beyond creating a repository of great videos. They must incorporate YouTube SEO into their marketing strategy. So, use the tips above and watch your YouTube traffic explode like never before.
Adela Belin is a content marketer and blogger at Writers Per Hour. She is passionate about sharing stories with the hope to make a difference in people’s lives and contribute to their personal and professional growth. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.