YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, just behind its parent company, Google.
YouTube videos account for eight out of ten video search results, and the platform is constantly growing, with over 500 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute.
You may have stumbled upon this article while looking for YouTube SEO tips and tricks to get more traffic or, in this scenario, “views” for your YouTube channel.
You are absolutely in the right place. Now take notes because we will share the best SEO tips and tricks to improve your videos’ visibility on YouTube.
What is YouTube SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is is often the gateway to your content, optimizing it for search is essential if you want to attract traffic and grow your audience.
Unlike Google, which assesses rankings based on backlinks and other factors, YouTube SEO involves optimizing your channel, playlists, metadata, descriptions, and videos. Your videos can be optimized for search inside and outside of YouTube.
You might be familiar with the basics of YouTube video SEO, including keywords in titles, meta descriptions, and tags.
However, you can do more for YouTube SEO by making videos more accessible. Since search engine crawlers can’t (yet) watch the videos, they must rely on the accompanying textual data to index them appropriately.
Harnessing the power of your video’s text in the form of transcripts, captions, and subtitles is essential to YouTube SEO strategy because it can improve user experience, engagement, watch time, audience, and SEO.
YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for YouTube Search
Use a target keyword to rename your video file.
For the first step, you will need SEO tools. You’ll use an SEO tool to identify the Youtube keywords you’d like your video to focus on, just like you would when optimizing written content.
When you’ve identified a keyword, you should put it first in your video file (before you even upload it to YouTube).
You might wonder, “why do I have to rename my file before uploading it to YouTube?”. You have a good question.
It would help if you did this because YouTube cannot “watch” your video to determine its relevance to your target keyword, and, as you’ll see in the tips below, there are only a limited number of places where you can safely insert this keyword on your video’s display page once it is published.
YouTube’s technology or algorithm is not yet able to trick bots into watching your video.
They are, therefore, always highly dependent on the textual information you insert.
So when you upload a video to YouTube, YouTube can read the file name and all the code that comes with it.
With that in mind, go to your video folder and replace the filename “IndependenceDayVlog2021-FINAL.mov” with whatever keyword you want.
If your keyword is “garden tips,” your video filename should be “garden tips,” followed by your preferred video file type and format, such as MOV, MP4, WMV, or other video formats compatible with YouTube.
Optimize your channel page
Your channel has the potential to rank on YouTube. A well-designed channel page attracts more subscribers.
Additionally, increasing the number of subscribers can help you rank better in search results. Above all, you want your channel page to look attractive and professional.
You will need a good photo and complete your channel profile page and “About” section to do this. Please don’t leave it empty.
The best way to optimize your page is to include keywords in your channel name or some of your primary targeted keywords in the “about” section.
You don’t want to use keyword stuffing or any other shady tactic. Just sprinkle in the words and phrases you want your videos to rank for.
Mention your target keyword in your video
If you don’t mention your target keyword in your video, it won’t appear in the captions or transcript, which are two essential parts of a successful YouTube SEO strategy.
Try to incorporate your keyword thoughtfully and naturally into your video to avoid cluttering your transcript.
If it helps, create a script ahead of time and try to include your keyword at the start of your video, so it appears early in your transcript.
In the title of the video, incorporate your keyword organically
When we search for videos, the title is one of the first things that catch our eye.
Since the label is often what determines whether or not a viewer will click through to watch your video, it should be not only compelling but also clear and concise.
While your keyword is essential in your video title, it also helps if the title is closely related to what the viewer is looking for.
Videos with an exact match of the keywords in the title have only a marginal advantage over those without.
Determining the keyword-rich title of a video isn’t always easy. As a precaution, use this keyword in your title if it fits naturally into a label that tells viewers what they’re about to see.
Pro Tip: Keep your title no longer than 60 characters to avoid getting cut off in results pages.
Optimize your video description
According to Google, you should know that YouTube video descriptions are limited to 1,000 characters.
You can use all that space, but remember that your viewer came to watch a video, not read an essay.
However, keep in mind that YouTube only displays the first two or three lines of text, around 100 characters.
He must then click on “show more” to see the full description. So put the essential information forward, such as CTAs (Call To Action) or links. A video transcript is helpful for those who need to watch it without sound.
Pro tip: Incorporate your description using the targeted keywords as naturally as possible in the first 100 words. Optimizing your report will help you appear in the suggested videos sidebar.
Use common “keyword related” to your content to tag your videos.
The official YouTube Creator Academy recommends using tags to tell viewers about your video. By doing this, you inform not only your audience but also YouTube.
The platform uses tags to understand the content and context of your video. As a result, YouTube can figure out how to associate your video with similar videos, potentially expanding the reach of your content.
However, choose your tags wisely. If you use an irrelevant title if you think it will increase your views, Google may penalize you for doing so.
Organize your video into categories
After uploading a video, you can categorize it in “advanced settings.”
Choosing a category is another way to group your video with similar content on YouTube, so it ends up in different playlists and reaches more viewers who identify with your target audience.
It may not be as easy as it seems. Indeed, YouTube’s Creator Academy recommends that marketers go through a careful process to determine which category each video belongs to.
According to the guide, it’s helpful to “think about what works well for each category” you’re considering by answering questions like:
- Who are the most successful creators in this category?
- What are they known for, and what do they excel in?
- Are there similarities between the audiences of similar channels in a given category?
- Do videos in a similar category share characteristics such as production value, length, or format?
To get the result link of your videos, upload a featured thumbnail
When people scroll through a list of video results, they see your video thumbnail as the main image.
This thumbnail, along with the title of the video, sends a signal to the viewer about the content of the video, which can influence the number of clicks and views of your video.
Although you can always use one of YouTube’s pre-generated thumbnails, we strongly recommend that you upload a custom thumbnail.
According to the Creator Academy, 90% of the top-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails. So, if you follow these guidelines, you can make your thumbnail appear with the same quality on multiple viewing platforms.
Pro Tip: Create your custom thumbnail using 1280×720 pixel images representing a 16:9 aspect ratio and saved in a compatible format of 2MB or less, such as .jpg, .gif, .bmp, or .png.
Add subtitles to your important videos with an SRT file.
Like most of the other text we’ve discussed here, captions and closed captions can help with YouTube search optimization by highlighting important keywords.
To add subtitles or closed captions to your video, you need to upload a supported text or completed captions transcript file.
You can also directly enter the text from a video transcript to automatically sync with the video.
Provide subtitles in multiple languages
Translations, like English subtitles, expand your audience and boost your SEO on YouTube. YouTube has a vast global reach.
More than 2 billion connected users watch YouTube every month worldwide. Therefore, if you currently use French, you should consider creating subtitles in English or another language.
International viewers and non-native French speakers can enjoy your videos with foreign language subtitles.
Search engines will also index your translated subtitle files, and your video will appear in search results in those languages.
This can be highly beneficial for a YouTube SEO strategy, as it increases your chances of ranking higher for non-French keywords.
Pro tip: Always check the accuracy of your translations and consider using a vendor or hiring a freelancer to ensure high-quality subtitles.
Use the cards and end screens feature
Have you ever seen a small white circular icon with an “i” or an inverted exclamation mark in the center in the corner of a video or a translucent text bar asking you to subscribe?
Cards are pre-formatted notifications that you can configure on desktop and mobile to promote your brand and other videos in your channel.
A one video can have up to 5 cards, and there are 6 types:
- Channels cards that direct viewers to a different channels.
- Donation cards that encourage fundraising for nonprofit organizations.
- You can use fan funding to ask your viewers to help create your video content.
- Link cards direct viewers to an external site-authorized crowdfunding or approved merchandise platform.
- Poll cards ask viewers a question and allow them to vote for an answer.
- Cards of videos or playlists that link to other similar YouTube content.
There are a variety of step-by-step instructions for adding end screens, depending on the type of platform you want to design them for, as well as the different types of content YouTube allows for those screens.
Google explains how to optimize all of these factors in this article.
It’s important to note that YouTube constantly tests end screens to improve the viewer experience.
Track your analytics
Tracking your analytics is the only way to determine if your YouTube SEO strategy is working.
Metrics can help you understand where your videos are succeeding and where they need to be improved.
YouTube provides a variety of analytics reports to help you track your performance.
Many analytics metrics can be tracked, but every YouTuber should be aware of the following:
- Watch time: The total number of minutes viewers spend watching your videos is called watch time.
- This metric is important because YouTube prioritizes videos and channels with longer watch times in its search results, as watch time is a good indicator of engagement.
- Impression click-through rate: The rate people watch your video after seeing it on their homepage, in the recommendations section, or the impression click-through rate measures the trending area.
- Impression click-through rates often peak after the video plays and then decline, but this is an important metric to monitor as it can help you fine-tune your thumbnails.
- Card CTR: Cards are pre-formatted notifications encouraging viewers to take action while watching your video.
- Analyzing card click-through rates can help you improve your cards’ CTAs, timing, duration, and placement.
- Unique Viewers: The estimated number of people who watch your videos over time is called “unique viewers.”
- This metric helps you determine the size of your audience and can support gauge engagement.
- The Traffic Sources report reveals how viewers discovered your videos and which sources contribute the most to engagement.
- You can use this information to improve your video promotion strategy by determining where to share your content.
- Subscriber Gain: YouTube’s Subscriber Report reveals which videos, locations, and periods gained or lost subscribers.
- This data lets you know which topics resonate with your followers and where to target new followers.
Tracking these metrics over time will let you see which videos are getting the most engagement and what factors contribute to their success.
Take note of what distinguishes these videos from those that are not. You may notice trends in the subject, video type, length, or posting schedule.
Most SEO tips above rely on correctly identifying a keyword and promoting your video. And not all of these suggestions can be implemented through YouTube alone.
Consider using some of YouTube SEO tools, like TubeBuddy or vidIQ , to optimize your video for search and success on YouTube.
TubeBuddy is a browser extension that allows you to increase your number of visits and subscribers with tools that help you optimize your content quickly.
TubeBuddy works by performing advanced keyword research, identifying top performing and most searched video topics, and then creating optimal titles and descriptions.
On top of all that, TubeBuddy also provides templates and tools that save time and dramatically speed up the publishing process and shares YouTube best practices to ensure your videos are optimized for success.
We hope these tips will help you optimize your videos and rank higher on YouTube. If you have other suggestions, share them with us in the comment section below or contact us!