The most visited site on the web, according to Alexa traffic rankings, is Google. Marketers understand and accept that, to maximise visibility, clicks, and – eventually – leads and sales, it’s essential to get as high up on its search engine results pages (SERPs) as possible.
The second most-visited site is YouTube, but YouTube SEO isn’t nearly as well-understood and well-accepted. We find that really strange, because it’s a highly useful discipline, and with the right strategies, you can make sure prospects see your videos before your competitors’.
Do keyword research
As with regular SEO content, keyword research is a crucial part of YouTube SEO. It works a little differently, though. YouTube Suggest – the platform’s built-in autocomplete tool – can provide a few ideas. If you want to take it a little further, though, use the free Ubersuggest tool, which can iterate through the alphabet for the first letter of the next word of your search phrase. Remember to select ‘YouTube’ instead of ‘web’, though!
Another free tool, Google Trends, can help you compare and brainstorm keywords – but many SEO practitioners, the newbies and the seasoned alike, don’t realise that there’s a ‘Youtube search’ option right under the ‘Web search’ button. You get percentages rather than numbers, unfortunately, but it’s still a good place to start – you can even create playlists based on topics people are searching for in your niche, using your videos and other people’s to drive traffic to your channel.
Understand what YouTube wants
As with Google and traditional search tactics, you need to give the platform what it wants to succeed – and what it wants is high-quality, long-form content that will let them run more ads and keep users on the site for longer. So, make sure it’s at least five minutes long: it’ll perform better and it’ll have a higher chance of ranking in the SERPs.
Optimise the title
A video title can’t be boring. It doesn’t have to be funny or smart or any of that (though if you can think of something funny or smart, it will help) but it can’t be boring – which means it can’t be wordy or non-descriptive and it should ideally have the keyword front and centre. Hit them with the good stuff immediately, and again, see what your high-ranking competitors are doing, and see if you can’t do it better.
And the description
As for the description, make sure it’s keyword rich and appears above the ‘fold’ (the bit above the ‘show more’ section). Then get right to the point: sell what the viewer’s going to see, why they should watch, and how it will benefit them, and include subscription links to make it as easy as possible to generate clicks and links. It’s as simple as writing ‘if you found this useful, subscribe here’. Just make sure it’s actually clickable.
Be sure to link out to other videos and websites within the description: YouTube uses this as a ranking factor and will associate your video positively with those you’ve linked. It also obviously doesn’t hurt to add further links to other videos you’ve done, as well as to your website and any social accounts you might have.
Sharing is caring
Once it’s up, get your colleagues, friends and family to share it as widely as possible – both within their individual circles, an on socials networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
Measure, report, and improve
Your job isn’t over when the video’s out in the wild – once you’ve hit publish, have a celebratory drink, do a little dance, and then start measuring.
As for what you need to measure, it will vary based on your objectives. But typical metrics can include rankings, views, organic traffic, and shares, among others. There metrics will tell you different things: shares can be a referendum on the quality of your video – at a very basic level, a share says ‘one person liked this video enough to recommend it to everyone they know on a given platform’ – and views are a measure of the strength of your title (and your SEO more generally). If performance isn’t where it’s supposed to be, you can then think about how to improve it; and if it’s meeting expectations, you can think about how to implement what worked for other videos in the future.