Think of your last YouTube search. Mine was about thirty seconds ago for “LoFi HipHop for Studying.” This is what I listen to when I write. I choose the third option that appeared in the search result. Now think again to your last search. Was it “Best Underwater Point and Shoot Cameras,” or maybe the, “How to Draw Anime” Which search result did you choose? Was it on the first page of search results? Second? Have you ever been to the forth page when searching on YouTube?
YouTube is the second most popular social media platform, based on market share. Not only does that mean that there are many people searching for video on their site but also a whole lot of creators posting content. How do you stand out from the 300 or more hours of video that is uploaded to YouTube every minute!
“Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results,” states Wikipedia. Search engine optimization affects only “organic” search results, not paid or “sponsored” results such as Google AdWords.
A study done by Cisco last year predicted that by 2020, video will account for over 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic. A study by Optify showed that 60 percent of clicks go to the top three search results. SEO is increasingly more and more important. Let’s get right into this!
1. Keep Content Fresh
The number one rule I learned about growing a YouTube channel is to post new videos regularly and often. Personally, I try for one new video a week and I know content creators who post two or even three weekly. According to Sherry Bonelli, the Local Search Evangelist at BrightLocal, “…that fresh, newly uploaded content (as well as the latest actions taken by the users) is taken into consideration by YouTube when ranking videos.”
2. Aim for Long Total Watch Time
This one is pretty simple. The longer your video is watched, the higher it gets ranked. This should keep us editors and shooters on our toes. Edit, re-edit then edit one more time. Kill your babies. Keep it tight to keep the eyeballs. Audience Retention, or how long a viewer watches your video, is important but the total number of minutes watched per video can be more important. YouTube wants to promote videos that keep people on YouTube so if you make a 10-minute video and keep the audience, it will rank higher than a two-minute video.
3. Use Keywords in Your Title and Voice Over
Placing your keyword(s) directly in your title should help your SEO. I make travel videos so I make sure the country and/or city I am showing is prominent in the title, but for product reviews, you’ll want to include the brand and model are front and center. According to Brian Dean of Backlinko, YouTube can now even “listen” to your audio and uses your words to tag your video. In other words, if your video is about income tax forms, being sneaky and typing in the keyword “bikini” may not get you more traffic if you don’t talk about bikinis.
4. Make an Excellent Thumbnail
A good thumbnail will get you more clicks, which in turn helps you rank higher in the search results. I usually try to shoot the highest quality RAW still from my DSLR in the field to use as a thumbnail. I pull a lower quality screen grab from the video only when I’ve failed to shoot the perfect still in the field. Excellent, high quality thumbnails are important!
5. Choose the Right Tags and Keywords
I research similar videos to the ones I’m about to post to see which Video Tags they’ve used. I’m surprise so many people don’t bother with tags. When I find a popular video similar to the piece I’m about to post, I decide if I should use some of the tags they have used, which may have helped them gain their popularity. Where does one find the Video Tags? There are two tools that I know about, and I suggest you use them both. TubeBuddy and vidIQ are both browser extensions/browser plug-ins that add a number of tools directly into YouTube’s website. Install them both, sign in and let these plug-ins help you build your fan base. They each have a number of free tools and analytics and some of the most helpful, I find, are the tag tools. There are many videos on YouTube that show you how to use these two plug-ins, so I won’t take up space here explaining them, but I highly recommend their use.
6. Take Advantage of Other Metadata
We’ve gone over some of the metadata YouTube uses to help rank your video such as tags and titles, but there are more. Descriptions, annotations and closed captions are also used by YouTube to help rank your content. Take the time to include this data.
I only have 800 words to tell you about SEO on YouTube, but guess what? There are many who can give you further help for free. Can you guess where you can find these people? You got it: YouTube. Derral Eves, Tim Schmoyer of Video Creators and Brian Dean of Backlinko are three industry experts whom I have learned a bunch from. Or you can just do a YouTube search for SEO.