YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. With over 2 billion monthly logged-in users, it’s a platform that can drive massive traffic and growth for your business if optimized properly. Implementing search engine optimization (SEO) best practices can help improve your YouTube channel’s discoverability and viewership. This comprehensive guide will teach you how to use SEO to rank your YouTube videos higher and get more views.
Key YouTube SEO Factors to Focus On
Here are the most important YouTube SEO factors to optimize:
The video title is the first thing viewers see and the primary text searched on YouTube. Use clear, exciting titles focused on the topic and value provided. Include main keywords naturally. Keep titles concise, under 60 characters.
Descriptive Video Descriptions
The description summarizes the content for viewers. Optimize with a meta description-style overview using keywords and phrases you want to rank for. Encourage viewers to like, share, subscribe.
tags help YouTube understand your video content. Include keywords and variations. Separate tags with commas. Use natural phrasing like “content marketing tips” rather than single words.
Thumbnails appear next to video titles on the results page. Use eye-catching images representing your content to stand out. Include text such as titles.
At the end of the day, content quality is king. Useful, engaging videos that people want to watch will rank better in YouTube and general search results. Prioritize value for the viewer above all else.
Enabling closed captions makes videos accessible and helps YouTube understand context. Use auto-captioning or create your own. Revise auto-captions for accuracy.
Upload a text transcript to provide text versions of your videos. This gives viewers and search engines more opportunities to find and digest your content.
YouTube Channel Optimization Tips
Optimizing your channel itself in addition to individual videos can further improve discoverability and authority on YouTube.
Complete Channel Description
Fully utilize the 5,000 character channel description space to detail your brand story, value proposition, and other optimizable details. Include prominent keywords and links.
Custom Thumbnails and Branding
Make your channel stand out with custom thumbnails and cohesive channel artwork that expresses your brand identity. This helps build familiarity and trust with viewers.
Organize videos into playlists around topics, series, episodes etc. Playlists indicate expertise on subjects and help YouTube recommend related content. Give playlists strong titles and descriptions.
Encourage viewers to like, share, subscribe, turn on notifications, and comment on your videos. Engaging users signals value to YouTube and can improve rankings. Be sure to respond to comments.
Promote new videos on your website, blog, email newsletters, and social media. Expand reach and signal value through shares, embeds, and backlinks. YouTube accounts for off-platform promotion.
Channel Navigation Links
Enable channel navigation links like Subscribe, Playlists, About etc. to help viewers navigate and engage further with your channel and content.
Optimize YouTube Videos for Better Rankings
Now let’s go over optimizations for individual YouTube videos to rank better in both YouTube and Google search.
Identify keywords and phrases people search related to your video topics. Use YouTube’s suggested searches and tools like Google Keyword Planner. Combine popular and long-tail keywords.
Optimize Title Tags
Incorporate primary keywords naturally in titles near the beginning if possible. Keep titles concise, compelling and focused. Include secondary keywords. Use strategic formatting like dashes, numbers, brackets.
Enhance Video Descriptions
Elaborate on video topics in an engaging overview-style. Use keywords in complete natural sentences 2-3 times ideally. Include links, channel info. Encourage viewership actions.
Use Relevant Tags
Include all relevant keyword variations, long-tail phrases, synonyms, alternate spellings. Find related tags on other top-ranking videos. Use tags YouTube autopopulates.
Make thumbnailsbrand-consistent. Use attention-grabbing text, imagery, contrast, color schemes. Ensure text is readable as thumbnails are compressed.
Closed Captions & Transcripts
Improve watch time metrics. Enhance viewer experience. Provide alternate content formats. Enable text discovery of otherwise non-text video content.
Blog Post Integration
Embed videos in related blog posts and link back to YouTube. Blog networks greatly expand reach. Associations pass authority and relevancy signals.
Organize videos into logical playlists. Playlists indicate video associations, context and help YouTube recommend similar content. Give playlists keyword-optimized titles.
Promote new videos heavily at launch when momentum algorithms are favorable. Encourage engagement. Then optimize aggressively for the long-tail.
Link liberally from video descriptions to other videos on your channel as well as your channel homepage. This signals relevancy and authority to YouTube.
How to Check YouTube Video SEO Performance
To assess how YouTube SEO efforts are performing, utilize these metrics:
YouTube Search Traffic
Analyze Traffic Source filters in YouTube Analytics to see % of views from Suggested, YouTube Search, Direct or External referrals. Growing search is good.
Click-Through-Rate (CTR) indicates thumbnail and title relevancy. Check Analytics Impressions vs Clicks. Higher CTR is better. Optimization can improve CTR.
Check Analytics Audience Retention graphs. Videos that retain audience are ranked higher by YouTube. Optimize content or branding if retention drops.
See where traffic comes from in Analytics. YouTube search and suggested videos are good. Browse features and external sources indicate good SEO.
Search Rank Tracking
Use incognito mode to check video rankings for target keywords. See where you rank in YouTube and Google. Track positions regularly to gauge optimization.
Top Traffic Sources
Check Analytics for referral traffic sources. Relevant YouTube channels, Google search rankings and quality backlinks indicate good SEO.
Keywords in Comments
Viewer comments with target keywords may signal you’re ranking and being found by those terms. Respond to reinforce relevance.
Rank Higher on YouTube: Advanced Tips
Here are some advanced tactics to further improve YouTube video SEO and beating competitors:
Channel Featured Content
Curate a compelling featured content panel on your channel highlighting best videos. This signals relevancy to YouTube for what you want to rank for.
Embed YouTube videos on quality external sites to earn backlinks and exposure. News sites, blogs, reviews and social networks help.
YouTube Trending Topics
When timely, trending topics and news events can offer an SEO boost if you create and optimize videos quickly around them. But focus on evergreen value long-term.
Analyze top-ranking competitor videos for opportunities. Study their titles, descriptions, tags, content etc. for optimization insights.
Earn backlinks from authority domains like educational sites (.edu), popular blogs, news media and industry hubs. Links signal trust and relevancy.
According to YouTube, videos over 8 minutes long have better overall rankings potential. Create videos optimized for quality watch time versus short attention spans.
Higher resolution, modern formats like MP4 and clean audio signal professionalism, helping credibility and rankings. Avoid pixelated or distorted low-quality.
Actively respond to every comment. Give thoughtful answers displaying expertise. Thank viewers for feedback. Engagement and loyalty improves rankings.
Common YouTube SEO Questions
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions around optimizing YouTube videos:
How often should you upload videos?
It’s recommended to consistently upload at least 1 video per week, or 3-5 videos for larger channels. Frequent, quality content signals authority and keeps YouTube rankings momentum strong.
Does video length matter for SEO?
Longer videos over 8 minutes can perform better in rankings as they offer more content depth. But focus on optimizing videos for relevancy and engagement first over length alone.
How long do YouTube SEO results take?
YouTube rankings are continually changing, though expect to wait 1-2 months to begin seeing results from ongoing SEO efforts as metrics and authority build. Consistency is key.
What’s better – more videos or higher-quality videos?
Quality over quantity tends to work better for establishing authority and rankings. Aim for professional, value-driven content vs. churning out mediocre, rushed videos to post more often.
How important are custom thumbnails?
Very – custom thumbnails drive more clicks from search compared to generic ones. The thumbnail is the first visual representation of your content in results. Make it speak to your video clearly and intriguingly.
Should you use hashtags in titles and descriptions?
Hashtags don’t factor into YouTube SEO (unless you enable channel hashtag tracking). Avoid them to keep titles and descriptions clean. Relevant keywords in sentences are best.
Optimizing your YouTube channel and videos for search should be an ongoing effort as competition and algorithm updates continue. But the foundational SEO strategies and best practices covered in this guide will help drive more views, subscribers, and business growth over the long term. Remember to always focus on creating high-quality, valuable content above all else – that’s what earns the best results and viewer loyalty on YouTube.