YouTube is one of the biggest websites online; a mega-platform that has become the go-to source for those seeking to engage in video marketing. While there are other platforms available, these pale in comparisons to YouTube’s sheer size, scope, and usability – essentially, if you want to enjoy the benefits of video marketing, then you need to be on YouTube.
Unfortunately, merely uploading videos to YouTube does not a good video marketing strategy make. You will also need to attract viewers to those videos; to achieve this goal, you will need to consider specific YouTube SEO.
An introduction to YouTube SEO
Standard SEO seeks to increase the rankings of webpages in search engine results. In contrast, YouTube SEO is designed to improve the rankings of videos within both YouTube and search engines as a whole – for example, appearing at the top of search results within the YouTube app, or within the Google ‘Videos’ tab available on all SERPs. While YouTube SEO has some similarities to standard webpage SEO, there are a few niche considerations you will need to consider – as our guide will now outline.
YouTube ranking factors
There are a number of different ranking factors that influence how prominently a YouTube video will feature in search results, all of which will need to be considered in order to get the most from your videos. However, before we further explain the ranking factors and offer tips on how to use them to increase your results, we do need to mention an important point…
Considering the video itself
YouTube is a vast, global platform that can significantly help any business to grow, expand, and develop. However, the simple act of uploading any video is unlikely to produce the intended results for your business. On YouTube, quality counts.
It is therefore imperative that you produce videos that are:
- Well produced and edited
- Informative and helpful to the reader
- Relevant to your business’ niche
- Available in high-definition; HD videos rank higher than non-HD videos
The reason the above is important is due to YouTube’s reliance on user engagement when deciding how well a video should rank. If your video’s user engagement is poor – for example, users do not watch to the end of the video, or don’t subscribe to your channel – then your rankings will reflect this. YouTube, like the Google Search Engine, tends to award higher rankings to content that is genuinely beneficial to the user – so you have to ensure that your video is of the highest possible quality, both in terms of its definition and the information it provides. A video of low-quality can do everything right in terms of the ranking factors we will soon discuss, but it will still flounder if the user engagement is less than ideal.
As a result, it’s important to see your video as an essential foundation for all YouTube SEO work. With a good video, you can enjoy positive user engagement, which YouTube will reward with a higher search ranking position.
However, there is a balance to be found, and a high-quality video is not necessarily all you will need to rank well on YouTube. After all, in order to benefit from good user engagement, you’ll need viewers – which can be challenging, given the sheer volume of choice available on the platform. To stand out, you’ll also need to consider the following ranking factors…
Your video’s title
The title of your video is an incredibly important facet of your YouTube SEO strategy. Your title acts as a preview in and of itself; an at-a-glance understanding of what the video is about, who it will appeal to, and when it is from may be a relevant result for a search query.
There are various schools of thought as to what constitutes a good YouTube video title, but there are two essential elements that are included in most advice:
- Place your main keyword at the start of your title
- Keep your title relatively short to ensure it is not ‘clipped’ for end users viewing search results on a mobile device.
Your video’s description
The title of your video should be descriptive, but it has to be kept relatively short – which can mean you are forced to omit relevant information due to space restrictions. Thankfully, your video’s description provides the opportunity to expand on the explanation of what your video is. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
- Use your main keyword in the first 25 words of your video’s description
- Add other, relevant keywords throughout the text
- Ensure your descriptions are at least 250 words in length
- Include external links in your description; for example, links to your website or social media accounts
Your video’s thumbnail
A thumbnail of a video usually appears in search results, and the quality of the thumbnail can greatly influence how likely a user is to click to view that specific video. While YouTube automatically creates thumbnails from every video uploaded, it is usually best to create your own, customised thumbnails.
- It is usually best to use a still from your video as your thumbnail, with text added to better describe the video
- Ensure your custom thumbnail is high quality, with at least a 1280 x 720-pixel resolution.
Captioning your videos is a fantastic way to make your videos more accessible to a wider audience; viewers with hearing difficulties, for example, are more likely to click to view a video with captions than one without. Furthermore, closed captions are crawled by search engines, so including captions could significantly improve your overall ranking positions.
While YouTube does automatically include captioning, the results are far from reliable, so it is usually best to add your own captions as part and parcel of the standard editing process of your video.
Your channel’s ‘about’ section
Finally, it is essential to correctly use the ‘about’ section of your channel, as this can really help to increase your overall rankings.
- Choose your channel keywords carefully; opt for descriptive, popular keywords that neatly summarise the type of content you will be uploading
- Check you have the correct country selected
- Describe your overall channel accurately, including keywords throughout the text
- Include external links in your channel’s description
Hopefully, the guide above will allow you to enjoy all the benefits YouTube SEO can offer to your online marketing efforts.