YouTube is the second largest search engine with over 1 billion unique users per month and more than 6 billion hours of video watched each month as they reveal.
Even though the number of users is huge, YouTube SEO tips articles are not nearly as many and as popular as traditional SEO articles and techniques for Google Search. That is why I am writing this YouTube SEO guide to explain you how to optimise your videos and help you get better ranks for your YouTube videos.
YouTube SEO tips – clarifications
Before I get started, I want to clarify things and provide an answer to some very important questions:
1. Can a popular Youtube video or channel help you increase your website rank? No. Outgoing backlinks on YouTube are nofollow, which means that they don’t count when Google calculates your website rank. However, you can still get indirect benefits in the form of tons of good traffic to your website if you become popular on YouTube and you put the link to your website in the description.
2. Can your video show up higher in YouTube Search Result Page for relevant keywords if you use backlinks? Having your video shared on social networks and embeded in blog posts helps, but what you need to know is that officially there is no rank for YouTube as it is for Google.
Your video’s position in YouTube Search Results Page is calculated using many factors. The ones that we know for sure to have a big impact are:
- watch time
- number of views
- user engagement.
Because buying views has become a popular trend, Google had to find another base factor to rank videos. This is how Watch Time showed up. If you associate irrelevant keywords, tags or title with your video content, your viewers will quickly leave your video and this will send a strong message to Google – your video is either low quality or poorly optimised. Any of these will get your video to the bottom of the search results.
That is why you should do everything you can to have a high video retention percentage or at least convince your users not to leave it immediately after they opened it – edit your sound, avoid flashy things, annoying annotations and content, spam and do your best to capture your viewers attention from the very beginning. If you save the best for last, most people might lose their patience if the rest is not interesting enough.
You can check how well you perform in Watch Time by opening the Analytics tool in YouTube and going to Audience Retention. Here you can choose to see Absolute audience retention showing how often each moment of your video is being watched as a percentage of total views or Relative audience retention, showing your video’s ability to retain viewers during playback vs all YouTube videos of similar length.
As a tip, I would advise you to include your videos in playlists. This will improve the overall time spent by the viewers on your channel and on your video in general. Once they started to watch a video, the next one in the list will start automatically.
NUMBER OF VIEWS
If you want to increase the number of views, you can promote your YouTube videos through Adwords. There also other ways of promoting your videos and YouTube and get new fans. You can find more details here.
I encourage you to promote yourself too. You can get more free views if you put a little time and effort to share your video on your fan’s page that you have on social networks, embed it into your blog post, add it to a playlist, allow video responses, include a link to it in newsletters that you send to your subscribers.
Another thing that you can do to promote yourself is to think about what the questions that your video answers and search the forums where people need those answers. You can put a link or embed the video in your answer with no fear of being flagged or tagged as spammer. If you want to get more attention to your channel, be more active on YouTube through smart commenting on other videos.
The maximum video file size that you can upload to YouTube is 128GB. However, it will only allow you to upload videos that are 15 minutes long before they ask you to verify your account in order to increase your limit. Verifying your account is now easy, using a mobile phone.
If you want to get a decent amount of visits/month, then you should definitely check the traffic for your keywords before picking them. YouTube Keyword Tool has been terminated. Now you can check both the traffic and suggestions for the keywords that you want to rank high for using Google Display Planner(you need to have a Google Adwords account to use it) and other free keyword research tools.
If you want more keyword ideas, I have a few hints for you: look at the bottom of the Google search page after you performed a search(“searches related to”), read some forums or communities posts, see articles and even books talking about your keyword(don’t worry, I’m not telling you that you have to read a whole book for some keywords, scanning the titles of the chapters is good enough for what you need). For further insights regarding the sources of your traffic, you can check YouTube analytics tool.
2. Keywords use
Include your keyword in the filename, video title, description and caption to make your video findable and increase your video rank.
Even though the maximum length of a video title on Youtube is limited to 100 characters, I advise you to put a limit of 70 characters to your titles, as Google will truncate everything that is over 70 characters in the search results pages. Another recommendation to increase the rank of a Youtube video is to put your keyword both in the title and as close to the its beginning as possible. If you want to include your brand name in the title, you can do that at the end of it, as very few people(no one usually) will compete with you to promote your brand.
Having a good description is important not only for SEO purposes, but also because it shows up as rich snippet in Google search results. Mentioning your keyword in the description several times will not only improve your video rank, but it will also maximize the chance for people to click on your link.
The length limit for a Youtube video description is 1000 characters, but as you can notice Google truncates them, so only a few over 100 characters are actually visible as a snippet. That is why I advise you to put the important information -like the name of the website that you are promoting- at the very beginning of the description. An YouTube video can also increase your brand visibility by adding links to your social networks profiles in the description.
Because Google can’t understand video content, adding tags and having a relevant title is essential to make your video discoverable. People can find you by your tags – if someone types “tag: keyword” all the words containing “keyword” as a tag will show up. You can have both Video Tags and Channel Tags – choose keywords that are the most representative for your channel, both specific and general such as “Beyonce” but also “music”. Use quotation marks (“) for multi-word tags (ex: “Mircea Eliade”) and don’t forget to include both the singular and the plural form of your tags. Add tags with your name or your brand’s name. It’s important to have your brand discoverable so that people can find your videos by searching for your brand name.
Given the fact that tags will help you show up as related content for similar videos, you should also take advantage of the 500 characters limit and put there your city and the main topics of your video. You should have minimum 10 tags. If you don’t feel very inspired, I am sure that some of your competitors had better days, so spy on their tags!
6. Video Category
Another factor that will make your content more easy to discover is choosing the right category for your video.
You should always pick the category that describes the most accurately the content of your video. When users choose the option Browse channels to discover new videos, YouTube lets them choose between several options:
- Best of YouTube
- Recommended for You
- Film & Entertainment
- Beauty & Fashion
- From TV
- Top YouTube Collections
- How-to & DIY
- Science & Education
- Cooking & Health
- Causes & Nonprofits
- News & Politics
Use them to help disabled people understand what you talk about and promote your content to those around the world who don’t understand the language you used in the video. Captions are also useful for search engines to figure out the topic of your videos and using your keywords inside the transcript will be of great help with your YouTube SEO efforts. YouTube automatically transcribes your video, but its quality is really bad, so I recommend transcribing it yourself and then upload it as a text file. You can read more about YouTube Video Captions here.
The main purposes of annotations is to increase engagement, provide more information, help with navigation by linking to other videos in the series and more. Annotations can be very powerful and informative, especially when they are used to link the content of your video to external sources referenced in the video, but if you don’t use them right or you add irrelevant information, then they can become annoying and distracting.
Your channel should be taken care of the same way as you do with your website because it represents your brand. That is why I recommend writing some good text at About section and adding links to all your social profiles. This way, your viewers will have several options to follow you – subscribe to your youtube channel, click on the links you provided and follow you on social networks or they can go to your website and subscribe to your blog.
In order to find a YouTube channel all you need to do is to put the word channel at the end of your query in YouTube search. For people who visit your channel for the first time or non-subscribers, you can create a Channel Trailer to give them an overview of what your channel is about and your goals when they land on your channel page. You can find more information about Channel Trailers here.
As a tip, I would advise you to share the URL for the whole playlist rather than just the one for a single video when your goal is also to promote your brand on social media platforms, blogs, forums etc. This type of sharing will also boost your watch time. Users on YouTube can create featured playlists and they can subscribe to other people’s playlists. The good thing is that you don’t always have to upload a video made by you, you can also add to the playlist an interesting video from some other channel that is relevant for your playlist topic to preserve your subscribers loyalty and attract some new ones with interesting, high quality playlists.
The number of your subscribers is also an important factor for YouTube SEO, so encourage people to subscribe to your channel to built more channel authority.
10. Video sitemap
If you have a website, you should already have a sitemap created for it and sent to Google. It’s the same with your video channel. All you need to do is to learn how to create a video sitemap and then send it to YouTube.
Having a well optimized video is just the beginning. You have no backlinks to rely on youtube, the users engagement are the foundation for your ranking success. User engagement on YouTube consists of:
- thumb up & thumb down
- comments & video responses
- subscribe option
- adding videos to playlists where they can easily be retrieved at a later date and replayed
- embedding the code on other websites
- sharing on social networks.
Be mindful about what you post because users can also flag your video, triggering a verification by the YouTube team. The good thing is that if a video doesn’t violate the YouTube Community Guidelines, the video will stay on the site no matter how many people flag it. If you get some down-votes, don’t let it affect you too bad. As this study reveals, negative feedback will impact the whole community in an ugly way. It seems that people who get down-votes make more negative comments to the work of others and produce a lower quality content after they receive the negative feedback. Being praised doesn’t influence much the authors – they will produce the same amount of work and the quality is not influenced by the positive feedback they got. Those who get no feedback tend to post less and even leave the community, so if you don’t want to see new videos on the web from a particular channel you’d better ignore it.
YouTube SEO tips – conclusion
If you make a very good video, your viewers will promote it for you – they will share it on social networks, embed it in blogs and forum replies, send the link to their friends in messenger talks, and email it to people who are interested in your video content and the topics you approached. But you can’t count on the “wow” element. Many people might like it, few people might share it. Instead of waiting for a miracle, you should use the YouTube Seo tips in this article to promote yourself and get your video in front of the right audience now.